What is an “Emotional Wound,” and How Can We Heal From It?
You’ve been wounded. Not physically, of course. No one put a spear in your side (and if they did, we’d very much recommend you close out of this tab and head to your nearest emergency room). But you’re hurt in other ways: mentally and emotionally.
Perhaps it’s the result of a fight between you and your friend. Maybe you’re reeling from another difficult call with your father. Or maybe it’s that annoying coworker who keeps undervaluing your work and, by extension, you.
Whatever the case, you’re experiencing an emotional wound, and it’s just not going away. You can’t forget about it and it’s impossible to move past it. At the same time, it’s a specific issue that doesn’t feel right for therapy — you don’t need to reorient your whole life, you just want to talk about this one, ugly, annoying wound.
What do you do? First, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re suffering from. What do we really mean when we talk about “emotional wounds”?
Understanding emotional wounds
An “emotional wound” is a difficult, traumatizing or negative experience (or set of experiences) that causes you mental and psychological pain. This pain goes on and on, lasting weeks, months or even years, if the wound is deep enough. Usually, these wounds are inflicted upon us by someone we know well, such as spouses, teachers, friends, or immediate family members.
Sometimes these wounds are shocking and immediate. Maybe someone cheated on you, and now there is no trust in your relationship. But other times emotional wounds are more subtle, and act more like infections than a strict stab-wound. For instance, as a child, did you ever work diligently on something — let’s say it was a new toy you built, or a spelling test you aced — only to receive little to no praise from your parents? Maybe your dad told you he’d wished you’d paid more attention on the last test, instead of gloating about this one.
It’s a small experience, sure, and likely not similar to your own. But many of us experience a collection of these poor encounters, eventually leading to a giant, festering “wound” that makes our relationships with others fraught and complicated and leaves us feeling less than optimal.
How do you begin to heal from a wound like this?
We’ll be the first ones to admit that healing from an emotional wound isn’t easy. These wounds run deep, and it will take more than the equivalent of an emotional “band-aid” to fix them.
A good first place to start is journaling. If you’ve ever journaled as a child or young adult, you likely already know the benefits of writing out your thoughts when reflecting on experiences. Writing about our wounds shows us how they impact us to this day, giving us clarity. Additionally, writing about our wounds gives us a kind of power over them — by externalizing negative experiences, we can more easily confront and overcome them. We can leave that wound in our journal, instead of carrying it around with us.
Taking the next step
Some wounds, however, are too complicated to fit into a journal. Small slights that have accumulated for years or lifelong relationship difficulties can be hard to capture in one diary. These instances don’t always need to be emotionally devastating to be complex — sometimes all it takes is continually being passed over for a promotion at work to open the wounds of insecurity and self-doubt.
In these instances, we need to talk to others to process how we’re feeling. At the same time, not every “wound” warrants therapy. If you’ve experienced something truly traumatic, therapy is the answer for you. But if you’re simply dealing with an occasionally fraught relationship with your friend, maybe therapy isn’t needed. In those instances, it’s worth considering journaling with someone who journals back.
That’s right! Have you ever thought of sharing your journals with someone who’s qualified to respond to them? The Journal That Talks Back connects journal writers with certified responders who reply to entries in near-real-time. Exchanges happen as often or as little as they need to in order to help you navigate the wound you’re currently struggling with.
The benefit here is that you do not have to work through an emotional wound all on your own. In truth, if we could solve our emotional wounds ourselves, then they would not exist in the first place! That’s the critical value of a qualified responder — they will dig deep and inspire you to look at the many experiences that have led to the emotional wounds you carry, allowing you to take the steps you need to heal from them properly.
If this feels right to you — if you feel like someone who could benefit from a journaling partner that asks the right questions and puts you on track to move past emotional wounds — then head on over to The Journal That Talks Back to learn more.