Painful experiences that occur throughout your life take shape as emotional scars. For most people, it’s extremely difficult to deal with issues like breakups, divorce, betrayal, humiliation, neglect, and injustice.
What is certain is that many people haven’t healed from those wounds, so they keep on hurting, trying to mask their pain with superficial bandages.
Unfortunately, they don’t realize that the longer they wait to fully heal themselves, the more their wounds will deepen. This becomes even more complicated when you know that something is wrong with you, but haven’t yet realized that it’s thanks to an old, unhealed wound.
So there’s some degree of ignorance, coupled with the fear of having to relive the pain, that keeps you from being yourself, forcing you into playing a role that you hardly recognize or doesn’t belong to you.
Odds are that if you’re reading this today, you’ve felt the desire to get to know yourself better and improve who you are each day. That’s why in this article we want to offer a little help so you’ll know what steps to follow in the quest to heal your old wounds.
Let’s look at the six steps you need to take in order to heal emotional wounds:
1. Accept your scars as part of who you are
Don’t look away from it – your scar is there. You can choose to recognize it or not, but the only way you can move forward is to face it head on. According to Lisa Bourbeaur, to accept a wound means you look carefully at it, observing it, and knowing that resolving such problems is part of the human existence.
Maybe you think that hiding from your suffering is the best thing you can do, but the truth is that it only makes you deny your pain, which means the wound will only deepen with time.
You have to accept and understand that you’re neither a better or worse person because something hurt you. Having built up your defensive shell is a heroic act of self-preservation, but it’s already fulfilled its function. In order to move on, it’s time to let go of that shell that once protected you.
When you accept your scars, you learn what you truly need, and this is the greatest benefit. If you don’t do this you’ll eventually develop long-term problems like depression, anxiety, and insecurity.
See also: 8 habits that cause depression
2. Accept that succumbing to fear or guilt does more damage than good
If you focus all your attention on your pain or finding a guilty party you’re wasting your energy, energy you should be using to heal your wounds. Try to forgive those who hurt you and learn to forgive yourself – it’s the only way you can open your heart again and move on.
You need to understand that making the decision and finding the willpower to overcome those old wounds is the first step towards understanding yourself and caring for yourself. Not only are you developing these qualities for your own good, but for others as well, which results in a better emotional state overall.You can’t expect that everyone else will conform to your expectations, fishing you out of the bottom of the well every time you fall. It’s unfair to expect someone to do that, when it’s a responsibility that belongs only to you.
In fact, this is the kind of thinking that could lead to the loss of a lot of relationships in your life, something that can in turn create a lot of emotional pain.
3. Allow yourself to feel anger toward people who hurt you
The more damage you suffer and the deeper your wounds become, the more normal it is to assign blame and feel anger toward those who hurt you. Allow yourself to be angry, but learn to forgive them as well.
If you try to fight your feelings of anger you’ll only end up suppressing the pain, and it will turn into hatred and resentment, two extremely harmful feelings for your health.
Living in a negative emotional spiral traps you into a life of pain and dissatisfaction. And it only causes you to further mask your true self, leaving you unable to open your heart.
4. Through acceptance and forgiveness comes transformation
Every single one of your experiences has taught you something. You might find that hard to accept because your ego is a mastermind at building walls to hide your inner problems.
Yes, your ego can complicate your life, but it is through your thoughts and behaviors that you learn to simplify it again. Any change will require great effort, but you must look to the future and understand that refusing to be yourself is something you must change.
5. Look at the world both with and without pain
Take some time to reflect on how you’ve borne your wounds over the years. They were there, controlling your actions even without you realizing it. Cast aside your masks, don’t judge yourself or criticize yourself. Put everything you have in front of you as you’re trying to heal from your wounds.
You can change your outlook in a day, or it could take months or even years. Ideally you’ll be able to say to yourself, “Okay, I’ve been wearing this mask for these reasons, but now it’s time to remove it.” That way you know you’re on the right path, and for the remainder of the journey you’ll feel that wonderful inertia moving you forward that comes from the realization that you no longer have to hide.
We recommend reading: The best advice for raising self-esteem
6. Rely on your circle of friends to heal emotional scars
Maybe you thought you could handle anything now, because you’ve been through so much worse already. But there’s no reason to let go of the comfort of someone who loves you and will patiently support you.
Obviously that support you receive from others can be crucial to overcoming countless obstacles. Don’t shrink away from their embrace. They’re a part of you, too, and together you can build a new space in which you’ll be able to live without pain.