We are a wounded people. In this largely uncaring world, people are hurt from exploitation and victimization. People everywhere are experiencing all kinds of rape and trauma: racial, financial, political, organizational and sexual. Children are abused. Marriages are broken. Tragedies of all kinds – natural and man-made – afflict all of us. And many of these ‘wounds’ cut deep and last beyond a lifetime.
In many cases, emotionally wounded people are victims of the criminal, hurtful, or selfish actions of others. In other cases the emotionally wounded have self-inflicted wounds and are victims of their own hardheaded, addictive or narcissistic actions. The outcome is the same regardless of the source. People are emotionally wounded! And so they struggle with crippling emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear, desperation, shame and guilt, hatred, depression, and low self-esteem.
The pain of such emotions is often present with us even though the incidents and relationships that caused the hurt may be long past. We have difficulty with our relationships – even those within our own households. On the job, we can’t get along with colleagues. We fight with our neighbors – whether they are next door, around the corner, in the next county – or in the next country. Politically – there are fights everywhere: neighbor against neighbor; family against family; country against country.
Our emotional wounds show in the insanity of our public and private actions. What else can explain a father raping his daughter or a mother killing her kids? What else can explain a priest sexually abusing young children? What else can explain a politician raping his country of the financial resources earmarked for those who need it most in his country? What else can explain caregivers who exploit the elderly and the disabled? Those people – the perpetrators of those disgusting and horrible actions – are themselves emotionally wounded.
Caution! Think carefully before you decide that because you are not in this dastardly group and you therefore are not emotionally wounded!
Not everyone who is emotionally wounded abuse or hurt others to the degree that those described above do. Most people who are emotionally wounded do not abuse children and are not involved in any kind of rape – financial, political or sexual. Most appear to live ‘normal’ lives. Their emotional wounds and hurt are hidden deep on the inside… and only shows itself to the trained analyst and the expert eye. But those emotional wounds do wreak havoc with their lives and the lives of those closest to them.
What are some of the symptoms?
- Addiction to approval and people pleasing
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Manipulation of others
- Lust for control and power
- Extreme selfishness, disloyalty and self-centeredness
- Lashing out at and hurting others without any visible signs of regret
- Eating disorders
- Shopping addiction
- High levels of anxiety
- Fear of intimacy
- Emotional numbness
- Overly sensitive
- Intensely secretive
- Very little patience or tolerance for others
- Shame and guilt
- Rage and hatred – including self-hatred – and anger towards themselves
- Sense of hopelessness leading to suicidal thoughts and gestures.
- Obsessive compulsive disorders
- Irrational expectations (stated and unstated) of others
- Abusive behavior including child abuse
- It shows up in their children who exhibit emotional pain by being abusive and violent; children who use drugs and become involved in anti-social and delinquent activities.
As you can see emotional wounds are a fact of life and is exhibited all around us.
There is hope, however, for those who think that they are alone in their suffering. Despite emotional and psychological wounds – there are things that they can do individually and collectively to heal the emotional wounds and improve their overall emotional health. People with emotional wounds need a lot of things.
Here are a few of the many tasks:
- They must acknowledge that they need help. This may be difficult for those who believe that their situation is hopeless. It could also be difficult for those who are intensely secretive.
- They need intensive and clinically sophisticated help through counseling and psychotherapy with expert clinicians.
- They need to feel a sense of hope. This will start them on their journey towards healing.
- They must express themselves, to talk and be listened to. In this endeavor, they need to hear themselves from the inside and at the deepest levels of their psyche. Talk-therapy could be enhanced with expressive therapy whereby the individual is allowed to express themselves in myriads of ways with the guidance of an experienced professional. In this regard, any therapeutic intervention would have to take into account the dynamic, sensitive, tenuous and potentially dangerous nature of the therapeutic process for people suffering from deep emotional trauma.
- They must accept that time does not heal emotional wounds or scars! Then they need to give themselves permission to let go of the past and heal from the inside out.
- If codependency is a factor, they need to begin recovery and healing and develop awareness in the many ways that this is a feature in their lives.
- They must uncover and then deal with the shadow parts of themselves which remain hidden from their conscious minds.
There are many resources that can help people who are suffering from emotional wounds.
Here are a few.