Categorized | Mental Health, Trauma

Healing Emotional Injuries

Imagine that tied to your leg is a ball and chain that you drag with you wherever you go. The ball contains past experiences of emotional loss, hurt or trauma. Perhaps, there is the sibling who was jealous of you and treated you poorly, mother or father who rejected the way of being most natural to you, schoolmates who bullied you, death of a loved one, or authority figures in charge of your development and care who physically, emotionally or sexually abused you. 

You cannot freely move around. Everywhere you go, the hurt and psychological issues around the injurious event goes with you influencing your perception and behavior. That’s the nature of emotional injuries; if we do not heal them, they will be tied to our identity and self-worth forever.

An emotional injury can be caused from a range of events that include chronic humiliation and embarrassment, physical or emotional abandonment by caretakers, bullying by family members or schoolmates, or physical or sexual abuse. An emotional injury weakens our sense of self and individuality, lowers self-worth, approval, and lovability and ill-equips us to adequately cope with stressful circumstances and to solve problems.

Damage to our sense of self has negative effects on future health and on our work and relationship success (APA, Emotional Health). Too, the more emotional injuries that we carry around, the greater negative effect on our well being.

That we can adjust and carry on with our lives despite such emotional assaults is a testimony to the basic resilience of the human spirit. Nonetheless, our ability to set aside (the compartmentalization defense) traumatizing past experiences takes a physical, psychological, and spiritual toll on us. We can try to put away a psychological injury, as if it is a messy room that we close the door to and vow to clean out one day. But, the injury is still there in the background of our awareness and robbing us of precious energy that we could be using to create our lives anew.

We can drag that ball of wounds around with us for a lifetime, once we get used to carrying the load. But, it is not without debilitating effects on our vitality, self-esteem and health. There is an absolute link between emotional and physical health (Everyday HealthHarvard Health). Nerve connections between the mind and body control bodily functions, and consequently our overall health. What we think and feel affects the outpouring of endocrine hormones and chemicals that influences body function. Also, memories of our emotional injuries are stored in the brain and determine the types of experience that physically and mentally stress us.

Fatigue, anxiety, depression, digestive and sleep disturbances can result from emotional injuries that we have not worked through. The more energy we have that is tied up in unresolved emotional hurt, the less we have of it to work, play, and to creatively develop ourselves.

The Parasitic Nature of Emotional Wounds

We may try to forget our past emotional injuries through over work, food, alcohol, drugs, or sexual activity. But, present situations that even slightly resemble the issues that first caused us to suffer are bound to bring up the painful feelings we thought we had put away.

Unhealed emotional wounds act like parasites. Present day circumstances become a host for their release and self-expression. Take, for example Miriam. She was 8-years old, at the time. Miriam returned home from school for lunch after the morning session. But, for a reason she could not recall, she did not want to go back for the afternoon class. Her mother had thought she was long gone, until she found Miriam sitting on the front doorstep. Rather than to explore why Miriam did not want to return to school, Miriam’s mother marched her three blocks back to class, slapping her all of the way. She threw open the classroom door and shoved Miriam inside. Tears and mucus from her nose was running down Miriam’s face. The teacher gently took Miriam’s hand and guided her to her chair, where Miriam sat slumped in her seat with head down and sobbing and doing all she could to avoid the gaze of her classmates.

Miriam had thought she put away this emotional injury for good. She intellectualized her hurt by telling herself that her mother had a very stressful life and couldn’t do any better. For the most part, this defensive maneuver worked unless something occurred that awakened the wound into the here and now.

While shopping, Miriam saw a mother aggressively hitting her 5-year-old child. The child was staring at the onlookers while her mother was beating her. Miriam was mortified. The pain and humiliation in the child’s face was more than Miriam could bear. She marched over to the mother and while grabbing her arm told her that she would call the police if she did not stop beating her child. Miriam was so traumatized by the situation that it prompted her to enter into therapy, where she reconnected to the humiliation and embarrassment she felt that day in school. Therapy helped Miriam to become aware of the many ways she curbed her enthusiasm for living. She chose work, relationships, and activities that minimized the chance for bringing embarrassment to her.

We are meant to use the experiences that bring old emotional wounds to the surface toward our emotional and spiritual health. Rather than attribute our strong reactions and sensitivities to an upset stomach or a bad day, as did Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ classic book A Christmas Carol, we have to honor these situations that bring out our emotional pain and trauma. They are seeking to be expressed and psychologically worked through.

Get Into A Healing Identity: Release the Ball and Chain

To overcome emotional injury, we first have to embrace a healing identity. To heal means that we have to face, reconcile and settle the experiences that traumatized us so we can start creatively developing ourselves and solving problems rather than let the fears and concerns tied up in that past injury dictate who we are and what we can achieve in life.

penguin-cut-ball-and-chainA healing versus victim mentality encourages us to face our pain, to go back to what happened that hurt us so deeply. Only by letting ourselves fully feel the past hurt will we be able to reconcile what happened to us. We don’t have lock up our emotional injuries. Instead, we must bring them forward and integrate them with who we are now and where we want to go. We have to become aware of how the emotional injury played out in our lives, so we can begin to make conscious choices. Awareness is how we take the power out of those painful memories. Miriam had to see how much she inhibited herself to avoid being humiliated ever again. Once she did, she began to take risks and make decisions that didn’t reinforce the fears tied up with her emotional injury. As she began to see herself in new ways, and strengthen her sense of self, the power of the past began to weaken. It’s like she took out a big pair of garden shears and cut the ball and chain away from her.

Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready to take out the garden shears and cut that ball of wounds away from you? Let the steps that follow guide you in this process.

  1. Get into a healing rather than a victim-mentality by acknowledging the emotional injury that you have been carrying around.
  2. Examine the emotional injury, through the following questions. a). How has this emotional injury affected my health, success and relationships? b). How has this emotional injury played out in my life? What decisions have I made that reinforce the fears this injury caused me?  c). How has this emotional injury weakened my self-love and strength of my identity?
  3. You have insight into the effects of the emotional injury. Now, you have to start to make decisions that weaken its power over you. For Miriam, she started to take risks on the job and in relationship. She began to speak up more in team-building meetings, despite her initial embarrassment. Also, she started to act more playful with her husband, which he loved.

I know it doesn’t feel good to return to experiences that once hurt us. It’s understandable that we put on defensive armor so we don’t have to re-experience painful feelings. But, if we desire true happiness, the type of happiness that comes from engaging with ourselves and life fully, creatively, and authentically, we have to face our emotional wounds and find a way to integrate their meanings into the entirety of our lives.

I hope you liked today’s post and took away something useful for your life. If you did, please let me know by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. You can also Tweet or Google+1 today’s article to let your friends know about it. Take good care of yourselves. Warm regards, Deborah.

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32 Responses to “Healing Emotional Injuries”

  1. avatar Lailanaeem says:

    Hi I read ur posts regularly.they r a great help and comfort in everyday life. Good job.keep it up.thnx.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Laila. Thank you so much. I’m glad you are here regularly and look forward to talking with you again. Warmly Deborah.

  2. avatar zoobi babar says:

    Excellent post

  3. avatar wader ahmad says:

    by reading this post,i got a lot of knowledge about emotional injuries,i have also some problems like that and from now onwards i would try to face that experiences and problems bravely to solve my emotional injuries,thanks a lot

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Wader, this is what I am hoping for that people learn more about emotional injuries and their affect on our lives. Thank you for reading the post and for taking the time to comment Wader. Warmly Deborah.

  4. avatar Aashi says:

    salam .. a good post one thing missing that these injuries can also recover if we pay attention to GOD and pray to HIM that oh my lord make me strong 🙂 …

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Aashi, thank you. You are right. I believe in God and in faith. So, yes, faith in God can make us stronger, give us courage and the wisdom to know that we are loved and deserve a good life. Thank you Aashi. Warmly Deborah.

  5. avatar Rabail says:

    A very nice article but i don’t think i can help myself. Thanks, hope to see more article from your side.. 🙂

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Rabail, thank you. I hope that you go to a professional to help you then. I know some emotional injuries are very very hard to let go of. They consume our lives. Still, we have to try to free ourselves as best we can. Yes, I will write more articles. Thank you for your support. Warmly DEborah.

  6. avatar Mavra says:

    As these days i am passing from some emotional injuries by reading your article i think its really posted for me directly. its clearly describing my emotions and feeling and your solutions are just for me to act upon. i ll must follow these. hope so these may prove positive to heal myself

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Mavra, I’m so glad that this article came in time for you. yes, the suggestions do work when you practice them daily and give yourself the proper time to heal. I admire your dedication to your life and making it work out well for you. Warmly deborah.

  7. avatar Ali_x says:

    Dear Deborah,
    I had an emotional holocaust that was nailed into my mind physically… And I’ve been dealing with its repercussions since 7 years… I haven’t been happy a single day… and with an I.Q of 212, its killing me.
    How can I narrate the entire incident to you?

  8. avatar dr.Anwar says:

    i liked u have done a good job keep continuing…

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Dr. Anwar. Thank you. I’m always pleased when the information in a post is valuable to everyone. Glad to say hello to you today. Warmly Deborah.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Thank you Rukhsar for taking the time to comment. I’m happy this article was valuable to you and to others. Be well. Warmly Deborah.

  9. avatar Shimul says:

    My proble is i can not believe it is psychological problem,as my major depression is not cured by medicine since last 5 years.i feel my nerve in neck get congested,paining,feelingless,making me numb,chest seems physical problem to me.such as nerve problem.what can i do now

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Shimul, if you believe that your problem is at a nerve level than you have to see a medical Neurologist. They can test to see if there is something to what you are saying here. Also, you are right, major depression can be caused by many different problems, some of which are not emotional in nature. Diabetes, physical pain syndromes, thyroid problems, and even allergies and diet that negatively affect the immune system can all result in depression. People who have major depression should always consider everything that may be contributing to their problem. You take good care Shimul. Warm regards Deborah.

  10. avatar Myth Rahman says:

    This post seems quite helpful,But I have a few questions..

    1. Does emotional injury occur only at the young age?
    2. What can be the ultimate result of an emotional injury? ( like what can be the worst?)
    3. Can bad relationship( recurring) be a reason for emotional injury?
    4. Is there anything call permanent emotional damage?

    I will be ever grateful if u could answer these questions



    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Thank you Myth. I’ll respond to each of your questions.
      1. Emotional injury can occur at any age. You ask a very good question. If a person or situation in our lives (at any time) wounds us psychologically and spiritually, it constitutes an emotional injury.
      2. The worst result is an emotional injury that breaks one’s spirit so much that they lose faith themselves, in life, and in the ability to create a satisfying life. Some people are physically, emotionally or sexually abused, which alters their sense of who they are. This can rob the of a solid identity, sense of a life purpose, and motivation to thrive in life. When an emotionally injury damages our will to live and to thrive this is the worst result.
      3. Some people experience such deep emotional trauma that it can alter how their physiology works. We don’t exactly call this permanent emotional damage. But, you are right that extreme emotional injury can create such stress at a physiological level that the chemicals and hormones that are vital to emotional stability no longer work well. These persons often take medication to correct their biology from the effects of too much stress.

      Myth, you asked very good questions. I hope this answers them for you. Warmly Deborah.

  11. avatar Sassi says:

    I liked it a lot we r what our past experiences make us in life or more correctly to say that past injuries made us sometimes r harsh words towards others r due to those injuries

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Sassi, yes you are right. Harsh behavior and words toward us can cause emotional injuries, just as much as our harsh behavior and words and emotionally wound other people. We have to be careful to associate with people who do not wound us on such a deep level. Thank you Sassi. Be Well. Warmly Deborah.

  12. avatar rabia waqar says:

    i read ur post….and i also have some of these problms…which im not able to forget but…. itake this bad experiences by protecting my kids…..i wont allow any one to give any emotional experience to them….even wht i have face from my frndz or parents i will never do that to my kids…’s very difficult to cut the chain but im still trying but satisfied that some where my kids are not facing this mental conditions 🙂

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Rabia, you are very right Rabia. It is difficult to cut the chain. Perhaps, through the love and protection of your children you have weakened the hold of your own past on you. By saying no to hurting them, it is like you are saying NO–you cannot hurt me either anymore. Blessings to you Rabia. What a wonderful mother you are. You are not letting your hurt and pain interfere with your ability to mother your children with great protection and love. Warmly Deborah.

  13. This is another great article, showing so clearly how emotional injuries can continue to undermine us, unless we do something to heal.
    Sal Maddi

  14. avatar Pramanik, Sashanka Kumar. says:

    Thank you mam for your another wonderful & thoughtful speech. I just tried to know about this for many day and now from your article I got my answer.. Thank you mam thank you very much.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello. I’m so pleased that the article gave you more information about the ways in which our emotional hurt and wounds affect us mentally, physically and spiritually and what we can do to start to heal them. Thank you for visiting my site today and for taking the time to comment. Be well. Warm regards DEborah.

  15. avatar polly says:

    I carry with me more emotional injuries than I care count. My problem is not compartmentalization, but the fact that every single one of them is very present. I cannot let go of things, and everything affects me very deeply. I want to change, I just don’t know where to start.


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