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.
Emotional hurt, unlike physical hurt, has no obvious scarring that we can all physically see and know that something happened and this person got hurt. This is how many people go on for years unaware of hurt that they still carry and still causes damage in their present lives. If you’re wondering at this point, I will tell you: Yes! It is possible to experience pain or trauma and think you are over it when you are actually not. This is because some types of pain show up later in a different form than the original experience and so we fail to recognise these scars. These are our scars in disguise.
The Big Reveal
So, what can old scars look like when they resurface? Anything. The table below will show some examples of how certain pain can look in disguise.
|Trauma or pain experienced||Scar in disguise|
|A child who felt abandoned by the parent who left when the parents divorced||An adult who detests the idea of a committed relationship because he or she is “free spirited”|
|Being teased about your body type at a different stage of your life||Always fussing over how you look because you are a “perfectionist”|
|A teen girl who got her heart broken by a first love||A woman who focuses on career and other goals and “has no time for relationships”|
|A mom who gave up her career to raise kids due to social pressure||A mother whose “best achievement in life” is her amazing children|
Still not convinced these are scars? Well, let’s take a deeper look:
Scenario 1 – The adult that feels the need to emphasize that they detest commitment as a choice, seeing it as something that violates their sense of freedom, is usually still hurting. Their insistence on being a “free spirit” should not have to denigrate something that, when done well, can be a beautiful thing. In some of these cases, the child that felt abandoned is still hurting and now rebels against the entire institution in an effort to protect themselves.
Scenario 2 – The perfectionist who can never leave the house or take a picture before she has triple-checked her makeup, the lighting, the outfit combo and how the angle makes her arms look is not just a perfectionist. Somewhere in the constant checks for imperfections is the person who always felt ugly and undesirable who now craves acceptance and approval.
Scenario 3 – The career woman who cannot find time to be in relationships can be evidence of the teen girl still hurting from rejection. So rather than try being with someone, why not avoid it altogether? That way, you stay safe from rejection by someone you develop a real connection with.
Scenario 4 – The mother who constantly checks on her kids and guilt trips them for not calling or visiting might just be a woman who was hurt because she didn’t get a chance to do what she really wanted. Her feeling of inadequacy and having lost out on something that could have been great for her took her confidence and so she now craves the reassurance of her children to assure her that her sacrifice was worth it.
These are all different scenarios of how hurt can show up in seemingly good and well-meaning ways in our values or patterns of behaviour. My advice is when you have a value that always seems overly aggressive towards and dismissive of other things in life that have potential to be really good for you, question it.
The pH Test
When it comes to questioning some of our extreme values, I believe in carrying out my own type of pH test. For those who are not familiar with the science of a pH test, it is a test that measures the acidity levels of something. Depending on what type of pH test it is, some levels of acidity will be safer than others. When we look at this pH test on wellness, my test is about checking how three different factors affect our wellness. It is a self-assessment on just how alkaline (healthy) or acidic (toxic) the drive behind your values or behaviour patterns are:
Test 1 – Is this from conviction? (Is this a value I hold dear because it truly enables me to continue growing and becoming the best version of myself and truly living a life of meaning and impact?)
Test 2 – Is this from rebellion? (Do I viciously guard this value because I don’t like admitting I’m wrong or I don’t like the people who are trying to instill this value – they may be right, but I don’t want to submit to the system?)
Test 3 – Is this from pain? (Am I building this value as a wall to protect me from experiencing the same hurt again but without showing that I am afraid of getting hurt?)
So, ladies, emotional hurt is real. Whether it’s hidden beneath layers of makeup or layers of fake smiles, we have to acknowledge it at some point and deal with it. Take a look at some of your absolute values and behaviour traits and do your own pH test. It won’t be easy to let go of what you have grown to know as your normal traits, but it will have to be done. Women can be amazing when we set our minds on something, but let’s make sure that these things are not toxic for us.
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.