Healthy Mind, Healthy You is a weekly column written by Mental Wellness Coach Cynthia M. Each week, she will share insight on how you can be live a healthier life.
So now that you have discovered that some of the behaviour traits of beliefs were deep-seated in emotional trauma or pain, what now? You have to face it!
It’s not going to be easy but one of the best things you will ever do for yourself is facing your pain. I already described how emotional hurts can be similar to physical ones. So I will now describe the process of facing our pain using the process that we use for dealing with a flesh wound.
Stage 1: Peel off the scab
When you have a flesh wound, maybe you cut yourself or fell and scraped off some skin or whatever it is, your body is naturally programmed to heal in a specific way. After you get hurt, maybe you don’t immediately deal with it (as we do with most emotional hurts). Just like a physical hurt, the body naturally forms a scab, which is a dry and rough crust that forms over the wound as it is healing. However, with emotional hurts, most scabs are not covering a wound as it heals; they are covering a wound that could potentially get infected and turn septic.
So this process of peeling off the scab is done so we can start to clean the wound we suspect is going septic. As you have now discovered the wounds in disguise in your own emotional life, start uncovering how deep they go.
Some of these hurts may have occurred during your childhood, at school, at a kids’ party, at home or in your teen or adult years. During this process, you can write them down as you think back to where this wound really comes from. Some useful examples of the depth of what you discover may be a situation with a bully in high school, a breakup in college, harassment at work, etc. The list can be long and painful to look at, but it’s necessary to peel off this first layer in order for healing to start.
Stage 2: Cleaning out the wound
I remember when I got a cut on my finger and after a while it seemed to be healing. I then noticed it had become septic and I had to go to the doctor to have it looked at. When I got there, and he confirmed it was indeed infected, he took off the first layer of skin that had started closing up the wound and had to clean it. This was not a deep cut, but in order to really get the medicine in, he had to pour in some of it, poking and prodding at it a bit to make sure the medicine got as deep as the infection had gone. I’m sure as you read this, you can imagine how painful this was. My finger had looked okay and like it was healing, but now I had to open it up and have this medicine put in to clean it daily for another six days. I was also put on a short course of antibiotics, all because my finger had a small cut.
This clearly was an injury I had underestimated, and this is often the case with our emotional hurts. Just like my healing finger, we act like we are done with the things that hurt us, and we think we have moved on until we see the scars in disguise. The solution now will be to clean out the wound. Yes, it’s open and you have unpacked how much you have to deal with based on how deep it goes, but now you need to apply what remedies you have available to start healing.
One remedy at this stage would be finding someone safe you can speak to who can help your healing process. A safe person is either a trained mental health practitioner or a knowledgeable confidant who will not judge you or castigate you in the process. Having this safe person means you will now have someone to talk to and help you along as you go on your healing journey.
Another remedy is getting more positive content into your mind by reading from books or online publications that have more positive and uplifting content for you. The biggest thing you are doing to your wound in this stage is eliminating the toxins that were stopping healing from happening. This means you are addressing things that maybe took your confidence, self-worth, self-esteem and even sense of purpose in life . This is why it is important to have focus on getting more positivity into your system.
Stage 3: Cover it and monitor healing
Once my wound had been cleaned and the infection was gone, some antiseptic ointment and a band-aid were put on that surface, and it was covered up. Now it was up to my body to use its natural healing process to rebuild the skin, form healthy scar tissue and bring the finger back to normal. My finger still stung a bit from the cleaning and the fact that the wound was still open, but I knew I was on my way to healing. I would have to keep it covered so no new bacteria could get in and cause a new infection. It would be uncomfortable, but my finger would get back to normal, with a scar of course.
This is the same thing that happens with emotional wounds. After we have applied the positivity to clean out the toxins, we now have to put some antiseptic and cover it and monitor the healing. This stage is where you keep reinforcing the positive messages and start to discard and avoid new toxins. Some toxins come from keeping the wrong company, going into toxic environments or staying in toxic relationships. This is where we need to determine and set our boundaries. We will discuss boundaries some more in the future, but for now, it’s important to know you need to set healthy boundaries between you and the things or people that threaten your emotional wellbeing.
As you keep reinforcing all the positives that are helping you heal, stay away from the negativity that threatens that process. It’s important not to run, but as you build your strength in a new positive self, learn to fight for yourself and stand your ground. An example of this is if a colleague at work would always talk down at you and it was really starting to cut you down and take away your confidence, bordering on fearing them, you can speak to them in a firm and calm voice about a more appropriate way of addressing you.
Facing our pain can suck at times because it can be a grueling process, but you have to understand it is absolutely worth it. As you uncover the scabs of what this hurt looks like and how deep it goes, as you clean out the toxic people or environments, and as you reinforce your healing over time, it will all be worth it. After my weeks of nursing my finger, making sure I didn’t get another infection or hurt it further, I hated the band-aid and changing the wound dressing. But eventually, I had it all taken off, revealing a closed-up finger, painless, with only a small scar as the remnant of a once-painful wound. That is the beauty of healing. Although it leaves a scar, this is the evidence of a battle you fought and won. Keep facing your pain so you can heal from it. If you ignore it, it only starts to infect other areas of life with its toxicity.
Until next time, remember: When you change your thinking, you can change your life.
Cynthia M is a mental wellness coach trained in psychology. She works with different individuals and groups to help them establish a more balanced state of emotional wellbeing so they can experience a better quality of life.
Connect with her on: