Healing Old Wounds: 10 Tips That Can Help You Heal
Healing old wounds is not an event, it’s a journey–one that takes time, patience, and courage. If you’re reading this, you’re likely aware of this truth. Perhaps you are grappling with the past experiences that still impact you daily, leaving you with the effects of trauma and emotional wounds that haven’t seemed to get better over time.
If so, we want you to know–it’s okay. It’s okay to feel the weight of what you’ve been through. And it’s more than okay to seek help in lightening that burden.
Throughout this article, we will discuss ten actionable steps to support your healing process. We understand that every individual is unique, and no single approach works for everyone. These tips are broad, incorporating various strategies to align with diverse healing needs.
The last two tips will discuss EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and IFS (Internal Family Systems) therapies. At Fearlessly Inspired Therapeutic Solutions (FITS), in Maryland and DC, we specialize in EMDR and IFS Therapy because we have seen firsthand how transformative these therapeutic techniques can be. But first, let us embark on a journey to understand and address these heavy burdens we carry.
Understanding Emotional Wounds and Trauma
Emotional wounds and trauma, although often misunderstood, play a pivotal role in our mental health. Emotional wounds originate from distressing experiences that have left a lasting impact, such as childhood neglect, abuse, or the sudden loss of a loved one.
Trauma, on the other hand, is our response to extremely distressing events that leave us feeling helpless and vulnerable. These experiences can manifest in many ways, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even physical health issues.
Understanding these wounds is the first step towards healing old wounds. Importantly, emotional wounds and trauma do not indicate weakness. They are a part of our shared human condition. It’s essential to recognize that no emotional wound or trauma is ‘too small.’ If it matters to you, it matters. As we delve deeper into this topic, we will discuss ways to identify and address these wounds, providing strategies to support your journey to healing old wounds.
Tip 1: Self-Recognition
The initial step in the journey toward healing old wounds is self-recognition. Self-Recognition is an introspective process where we acknowledge the existence and impact of our emotional wounds and trauma. It’s about giving a name to your experiences and the feelings they’ve created.
This process involves recognizing that certain events or situations in our past have left us with pain that continues to manifest in our present. This might feel difficult, but remember, acknowledging these wounds is not an admission of weakness. Rather, it’s a bold act of self-awareness that paves the way for healing and growth.
Tip 2: Building Self-Compassion
Developing self-compassion is a powerful yet often overlooked step in healing from emotional wounds and trauma. It involves treating yourself with the same kindness, understanding, and forgiveness that you would offer a close friend in distress.
By cultivating self-compassion, you are giving yourself permission to not be perfect. You are acknowledging that suffering is a part of the shared human experience. You are nurturing a peaceful inner dialogue. This encourages emotional resilience, enabling you to embrace your healing journey with patience, acceptance, and gentle self-care.
Tip 3: Seeking Supportive Networks
You may want to isolate yourself, but it’s crucial to build a support network. Actively seek out and nurture support networks—these can be friends, family, support groups, or professional help. These networks provide an environment where you can openly share your experiences, gain perspectives, and feel understood and validated. Surrounding yourself with empathetic and understanding people fosters a sense of belonging and helps you to see that you are not alone in your healing journey.
Tip 4: Professional Help
Recognizing when to seek professional help is a pivotal step in your healing journey. If your emotional wounds or trauma persistently impact your daily functioning, cause you significant distress, or feel too overwhelming to handle alone, it may be time to consider professional help. Therapists can provide a safe and supportive environment, offering evidence-based techniques tailored to your unique needs and experiences.
There are numerous benefits from therapy. It not only provides a platform for expressing and processing complex emotions, but also equips you with strategies to manage symptoms and cope with future stressors. Therapies like EMDR and IFS, which we’ll discuss later, are particularly beneficial for addressing trauma and healing old wounds. The guidance of a trained professional can illuminate the path to healing, helping you navigate life with increased clarity and confidence.
Tip 5: Cultivating Mindfulness and Presence
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully engaged and present in the current moment. It’s a powerful tool in the healing process. The mindfulness practice enables you to recognize and accept your feelings and thoughts without judgment or resistance, breaking the cycle of ruminating on past traumas or worrying about the future. Mindfulness lets you allow yourself to experience and process your emotions in a healthy, constructive manner, creating space for healing and growth.
There are many good books on mindfulness. Some of our favorites:
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thích Nhất Hạnh
- Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
Tip 6: Regular Exercise and Healthy Diet
Our physical health significantly influences our emotional well-being. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can boost your mood, reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase self-esteem–all essential components in healing old wounds and trauma. Start with manageable changes like incorporating short walks into your daily routine, practicing yoga, or adopting a nutrient-rich diet. These positive habits work to create a healthier body, which in turn fosters a healthier mind.
Tip 7: Establishing Healthy Boundaries
Establishing healthy boundaries is a key component of emotional well-being and trauma recovery. Boundaries help us define our personal space, allowing us to protect ourselves from further harm both emotionally and physically. They act as guidelines for how we expect to be treated by others and how we treat ourselves.
Strategies for setting these boundaries include clear communication of your needs and limits, learning to say ‘no’ without guilt, and regularly reassessing these boundaries to ensure they meet your evolving needs. These steps can empower you to take control of your healing, creating a safe space for positive change.
Tip 8: Embracing Change and Growth
Embracing change and growth is an integral part of healing old wounds and trauma. As you change, your perspectives, behaviors, and understanding of yourself will change too. While this tip sounds easy, change can be hard and scary–even if positive change. Embracing these shifts allows for transformative healing, where you not only recover but also learn, adapt, and emerge stronger.
Tip 9: Try EMDR Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a structured, evidence-based therapeutic approach for the treatment of trauma, depression, anxiety, and emotional wounds. EMDR therapy helps individuals to process distressing memories and reach a resolution.
The hallmark of EMDR therapy is its unique approach, using ‘bilateral stimulation’ (often in the form of eye movements) to facilitate the brain’s natural healing process. EMDR involves recalling traumatic memories while engaging in side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps. This reduces their emotional intensity and reframes negative beliefs associated with the trauma.
EMDR therapy has been praised for its effectiveness, with many people experiencing substantial improvement or even complete resolution of their distress. In a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), a group of people diagnosed with PTSD experienced an 84% remission in their PTSD diagnosis after just 3 sessions. Compelling success stories like this, along with significant scientific backing, make EMDR therapy a promising therapy for those looking to heal emotional wounds and trauma.
Tip 10: Try IFS Therapy
Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy is another highly effective approach to healing old wounds and trauma. IFS therapy proposes that each individual possesses a variety of sub-personalities, or ‘parts,’ along with a core ‘Self’ that is the essence of who you truly are — compassionate, confident, and calm. Trauma and emotional wounds can disrupt this internal system, causing these parts to adopt extreme roles.
IFS therapy works by helping individuals access their Self, which can compassionately and patiently listen to, understand, and heal these wounded parts. The therapy promotes internal harmony and self-compassion, resulting in decreased distress, improved functional behavior, and enhanced well-being.
A study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy in 2014 found that clients with a history of trauma and diagnosed with PTSD experienced significant improvement after engaging with IFS therapy. The holistic, compassionate nature of IFS therapy makes it a valuable tool in the healing process.
Fearlessly Inspired Therapeutic Solutions (FITS) Can Help With Healing Old Wounds
At FITS, in Maryland and DC, we specialize in EMDR and IFS therapies–two powerful, evidence-based approaches designed to create deep healing from trauma and emotional wounds. Our team is experienced in using these methods to help people like you navigate their unique journeys towards recovery.
With EMDR, we aim to desensitize the impact of distressing memories–helping you to reprocess them in a safe and manageable way. In tandem with IFS therapy, we can guide you to discover, understand, and heal your internal system, fostering self-compassion and internal harmony.
Choosing FITS, in Maryland and DC, means choosing personalized care. We understand that every individual’s experience with trauma is unique, and we tailor our therapeutic approach to suit your specific needs and circumstances.
Don’t let your past continue to cast a shadow on your present and future. Take the first step in your journey towards healing and wholeness.
Together, we can chart a course to a brighter, healthier tomorrow.