Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych
We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.
The Messy Truth About Healing from Emotional Trauma and What to Expect from Your Healing Journey
Picture an old wound from a deep cut that became an infected scar. The infection is so painful, the wound needs to be cut open and cleaned out, so it can properly heal. Not only is this process painful, you have to nurture the wound because it itches and aches. After what seems like too long, the wound is healed into a scar and the infection is gone. The scar gets lighter and lighter with time as it fades and becomes a part of your skin. It’s there, but doesn’t cause any more pain.
Emotional wounds are like physical wounds, in that the pain will continuously linger unless properly healed. Healing from trauma is, unfortunately, more common than not. Seventy percent of the nearly 70,000 respondents from a study conducted by the National Institute of Health revealed to have experienced at least one traumatic event and 30.5% experienced at least four or more events.
What does it mean to be properly healed?
The wound or broken bone is healed when you can function without life-dominating pain. The deep cut or repaired bone will always be a part of your medical history, but no longer dominates your daily functioning. The trauma will always be a part of you, but you are not as easily triggered and when you are, you know how to work through it, rather than be dominated by pain. However, it might mean a walk through hell in order to get to heaven.
What to Expect from the Healing Journey
The biggest myth about healing is that it is all about the image on the left: calmness and serenity, with soothing moments staring at the sea. While there may be moments like that, healing is more like the image on the right: feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and chaotic.
Expect the emotional healing journey to bring up unresolved trauma
The painful emotions from the past might come for a visit. Stop avoiding them. You can’t move forward with new energy and experiences until you have cleared out and made peace with the past. Healing does not change the past, but makes it so you can live with and learn from it.
Expect the healing journey to feel confusing
Learning about yourself and possibly uncomfortable realizations about other people can challenge everything you have ever known. Be open to new ways of thinking, behaving, and receiving information that will help you evolve into that healed and beautiful version of yourself.
Expect the healing journey to require forgiveness
You can’t heal if you hold a grudge against the people with whom you associate pain. Forgiveness is a bumpy journey intended to free you from negativity and improve your mental health, as opposed to “letting him/her/them get away with it”. Read more about forgiveness in Why You Need to Forgive Other People and How to Do It (for yourself and not for them).
Expect the healing journey to guide you towards acceptance
Healing is about accepting your reality. It’s easy to avoid, numb, and distract your pain with work, partying, and other activities, but acceptance requires grit and work. Acceptance of the truth and human flaws (your’s and other people’s), as well as embracing a new normal.
Expect the healing journey to need perseverance
Healing is hard. Sort of like driving through a storm, it’s easy to want to turn around and go back to where you started, but imagine if your life depended on getting there, so you may drive slowly, take breaks, and seek shelter when needed, but just keep going. You deserve inner peace, even among adversity.
Expect the healing journey to require nurturing
You can’t do this alone. You need to nurture yourself and let other people support you. Nurturing yourself includes self-care and being nice to yourself when you have a bad day or a setback. It will get better. You are learning how to nurture people who are also healing.
What About Your Own Healing Journey?
Do not go through this alone. There are programs, resources, therapists, counselors, and other professionals who are there to support you through your healing journey. There are your people who are cheering you on; probably more than you think. Ideally, you will be a stronger and more resilient version of yourself on the other side of your healing journey. You deserve this. You can do it. Where do you need to heal? Who will support you through your healing journey?