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Everyone experiences ups and downs in life. Sometimes, the negative experiences wound people in ways they can’t heal from with time. Deep wounds may require emotional healing to reclaim your identity and your joy. Use this guide to start on a path to freedom from pain.
What Is Emotional Healing?
Emotional healing is the journey of acknowledging your pain, processing it, accepting it and growing into a new version of yourself. Researchers theorize it began with group-level processes as a way to strengthen the survival odds of early human communities.
It involves relying on others to help you through emotional turbulence because the memories aren’t things you can process on your own. If you could, you wouldn’t be reading about emotional healing because you’d already feel whole again.
What Causes Emotional Wounds?
Emotional damage can have more serious implications besides getting your feelings hurt. It may stem from these complicated situations that happen at any age.
Physical neglect is easier to spot than emotional neglect. If your parents or guardians ever failed to provide food, clothing, shelter or medical care, it was obvious to you that you were missing something. You had physical cues like hunger or sickness.
However, many people suffer from emotional neglect. The most recent research estimates that 36% of the adult population report experiencing it, with many others not reporting it. It happens when parents intentionally or unintentionally do things like:
- Punish their child for expressing negative emotions
- Withhold their affection
- Don’t share joy in their child’s achievements or excitement
- Dismiss their child’s feelings with phrases like “You’re so sensitive” or “Just let it go”
- Fail to intervene on their child’s behalf when they’re in emotional distress
It may take time and sessions with a therapist to identify if you’ve experienced emotional neglect. Healing requires reflecting on what your parents or guardians didn’t do for you rather than what they did do.
When another person is involved in your hurt, the wound may have come from interpersonal trauma. Does your pain come from a breakup, a divorce or the loss of a loved one? Those wounds cut deeply because they injure or destroy a relationship that mattered to you. The trauma may have also destroyed foundational parts of your emotional being, like your sense of trust and love.
Diseases can sabotage your identity. The worse they get, the more you have to depend on others and hope for the best. It removes your independence and any control you relied on for stability. It can also make people feel like their body has turned against them, compounding on interpersonal trauma and low self-worth from other life experiences.
Emotional wounds remain long after an abusive situation ends. Whether you survived physical, sexual or verbal abuse, it leaves lasting damage. You may not have any self-worth left, no sense of your identity or any idea of how to form healthy relationships because fear dominates your ability to connect.
Tips to Start Your Emotional Healing
The wounds behind deeply held damage are complicated. When you’re ready to heal emotionally, use these tips to take your first steps forward.
1. Extend Yourself Some Self-Compassion
Many forms of trauma result in people feeling little to no self-worth. Consider what you think about yourself — do you frequently find yourself overworked? Serving others until your energy runs out? Feeling like no one ever puts you first?
Thoughts like those may stem from a shattered identity. The good news is that you’re not a broken person. You’re hurting. Healing is possible, but first, you must give yourself enough compassion to accept your pain.
2. Don’t Try to Do It Alone
Therapists train to help clients with specific kinds of emotional pain. They help people heal with techniques like:
- Eye movement desensitization & reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
- Comprehensive resource model therapy (CRM)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Trauma-focused CBT (TF-CBT)
- Internal family systems therapy (IFS)
It’s natural to want to help yourself, especially if you spent your life not getting help from anyone else. However, therapeutic healing techniques work with a trained expert guiding the patient through their processing. Find a local therapist to start working on what hurts you. You’ll reclaim your happiness over weeks, months and years.
3. Thank Yourself for Your Hard Work
Emotional healing takes time and the progress doesn’t always feel like work. Sometimes, it means talking with your therapist through a memory that doesn’t haunt you but also isn’t pleasant. Other times, you’ll leave your session having cried enough to exhaust yourself for the night..
You may only feel happier or even notice a change in your quality of life once your tiny steps build into bigger progress. Remember to thank yourself for every moment you spend talking, feeling and healing. Everyone gets across the finish line by starting from the beginning.
4. Celebrate the Small Steps
Acknowledging the efforts that don’t feel like work is good, but you should also celebrate them. It’s a way to affirm that you’re doing the right thing. You’re also worth the effort.
Think about how you’d like to celebrate yourself. It might change day to day, like taking a nap one day and going out for dessert on another. Your therapist can help you determine how to celebrate yourself based on what nurtures the inner wounds you discuss.
5. Expect Non-Linear Healing
You might notice progress after spending time on your emotional healing with help from a therapist or trauma-informed book. You could have less anxiety every day or change your instinctive negative thought processes.
No matter what progress you experience, it’s crucial to remember — healing isn’t linear. You’ll have great days followed by days or weeks of feeling low again. This happens because you’re healing your emotions and your body simultaneously.
Living with continuous high anxiety and fear changes your body’s biological stress responses, leading to conditions like depression, anxiety, personality disorders and more. It takes longer to reverse and end the physiological responses that helped you survive.
Give yourself grace and compassion when the harder moments return. You’ll either gain time to process things by feeling them or work on the feelings with the tools you’ve gained in therapy.
6. Journal During Your Progress
Given the time and setbacks it takes to heal, you might lose sight of how far you’ve come. Journaling mitigates this issue. You can always reflect on your early entries to see how much you’ve changed as far as your daily struggles or thoughts.
Journaling also gives you time to write about your therapy sessions to better grasp the takeaways from whatever healing technique helps you most.
Start Experiencing Inner Peace Today
The art of emotional healing is possible for everyone to learn. Reclaim your happiness by getting help to recover from your trauma. You’ll experience more joy every day as your mind and body heal together.
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