3 Different Ways of Responding to Emotional Trauma

Did you go through an emotional trauma? Or did your family pass down a generational trauma, and you are suffering the consequences? Examples of such; an abusive relationship, or (great) grand parents who have been through war situations. These things leave wounds, and not the physical ones.

They are not physical or visible (sometimes they are on people's way of carrying themselves though), but they work in the same way; They need time to heal. And when you touch an open wound it starts bleeding again. These things need time and care. Any way, lately, I have been observing the people around me and how they react to their wounds (yes, most of us have those, for different reasons and in different forms and intensities—but, yes, everyone is healing from something). And I have found there are three different ways of reacting to wounds.

First, you have the people who forever run away from their wounds. They ignore them and believe that by focusing their attention on other stuff, and focus on building a newer life they can forever ignore their wounds. For example, build a new family and limit the contact with 'older' family members, such as parents (you plead guilty). I would love to believe this approach works, however as I mentioned earlier, these wounds require some of our careful attention, because otherwise they keep resurfacing sooner or later. In some very unpleasant ways. In fact, they haunt you your entire life.

Then, you have the people who get stuck on their wounds. They fixate on them, and don't move on. They become their wounds. For example, someone who believes they are a failure, have low self-esteem, and so on. They focus all their attention on those beliefs and, therefore, don't leave room for other, more constructive, beliefs. They see the world through a very narrow window. I observed those people to be rather negatively programmed, judgemental (on themselves and others), rigid, and bitter.

Lastly, we have the people who face their wounds. But, contrastingly to the previous category, they use this awareness to build from. The only way of surpassing your limits, is by knowing them; as quoted by the fabulous Serge Gainsbourg. This is where the magic happens. Digging into your wounds and acknowledging them is hurtful, but once you have done that shadow work you can decide not to stay stuck on them and go above and beyond them instead. Let's take the same example as before; the insecure person. Now, he is aware of his limiting beliefs ('I am a failure and won't succeed anything I do') but then instead of staying stuck on this belief, acknowledging that these are only his limiting beliefs and not facts, and challenge himself to surpass them.

In short, dealing with emotional wounds is never easy and always hurtful—no matter what path you choose to take. But, what's for sure, is that the most productive and constructive path is the one where you decide to acknowledge your wounds and give them the needed attention and care it requires, but to use this awareness to surpass them, and grow from them.

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