November 9th, 2017/ Jake White
On one occasion when I was a little boy I walked into my grandparent's house and after strolling into their kitchen, I quickly jumped into my grandma’s lap and sat comfortably. My grandmother and grandfather sat next to each other and I always gravitated to my grandmother. She was a sweet little lady who would hold me tightly as I relaxed into her arms. On this occasion I looked over at my grandfather and slowly left the safety of my grandmothers arms in order to experience love and connection with him. As I ran toward him and jumped on his lap, I began to touch his face and play with his old and wrinkly features. I remember his expression beginning to change and he turned angry and stern and looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t copy your sister.” I had touched my grandfather's face and sang a little song much like my sister did when she connected with him. I thought if I copied my sister then my grandfather would show me unconditional love. Of course this reaction was not what I expected and at this young age I was not able to comprehend why my grandfather did not show me affection. All I experienced was a deep fear, confusion, and hurt in that moment. This is an example of the beginning of an emotional wound which can be defined as a deep hurt, pain, or fear caused by separation from someone else who is a source of security and safety that over time results in internal and external expressions of anger, frustration, resentment, hatred, and guilt. An important question that you can ask yourself, is how do I heal this type of emotional wound? The answer is to identify how it exists in your life, to lessen the natural tendency to project stability onto an external source, and to begin to provide a certain quality of love and attention to the feelings that are associated with our wounds.
The first step to healing an emotional wound is to recognize that it is there. Emotional wounds are based around relationships and they have a very significant purpose in your life. They exist so you can heal and experience a healthier relationship with others and yourself, but like any wound they are unpleasant to experience. This is why the first step to healing a wound is to understand how it exists in your life. Unlike a physical wound, the healing process cannot be seen in a very obvious way. If you look at a small cut on your hand you can feel the moment in which it happens. There may be pain at first followed by some panic as to how serious the cut is. You can also watch it become red and inflamed after a couple of days; overtime you witness it heal and can point to the scar as a reminder of the cut. This is the same with an emotional wound, but unlike a physical wound, emotional wounds can exist for months and years and it takes a consistent attention and focus for healing. Since emotional wounds are based around relationships, the key component to healing is how you respond to yourself. If you neglect your emotions and do not pay attention to them then they keep showing up in your relationships. In order to identify emotional wounds you have to look at the more unpleasant emotions that surface when you are triggered in your relationships; they can be experienced as anger, frustration, hatred, jealousy, embarrassment, or guilt. These emotions are similar to the inflammation that we see in a physical injury: they are often hot, irritating, and inflamed. Present situations and relationships can become a trigger for underlying emotional wounds when they are not dealt with or acknowledged. When I was a teenager I was in a confrontation with another young man and he kicked me off of a chair as I was playing video games. I was furious and we began to tussle in my best friend’s room and the fight ended as my friend separated the two of us. During the fight that ensued I was responding from a wounded place. It felt scary to be so angry and enraged at another person. I had to use anger, frustration, and aggression to protect myself so I was not injured or hurt by the young man that I was fighting with. I was also protecting myself from being overcome by him, which would have made me feel weak or inferior. As I left the situation and drove home I began to cry in the car from the hurtful, painful, and chaotic situation. This was not the only instance in which I had been in confrontation with men. In another instance, as a member of a soccer team, an older man would constantly berate me with critiques and insults. I was nervous to play on his team and felt a strong hatred for this person. I was constantly feeling reactive when I was in his presence and I would feel so sad and disheartened when I made a mistake on the field. This intense discomfort that I felt in my abdomen would be followed by anger, embarrassment, guilt, and frustration as my teammate would scream at me for my mistakes. This of course led to me feeling afraid to express myself on the field and constantly waiting for the moment where my wound would become exposed only for the man who I hated to point it out for everyone to see. In both of these situations there is disorganization to these events and they were chaotic, messy, and include different types of emotional responses. To lie it out in a more organized fashion these triggers create a deep sense of pain, hurt, sadness, and self-consciousness followed by some form of protection such as anger, frustration, guilt, or hatred. The core wound would be the hurt and the response of anger would be how I protected myself in these instances. There came a point when I decided to stop looking at these men as the problem and started to realize that I had an emotional wound that was not being addressed and it revolved around my relationships with men.
The second step to healing an emotional wound is to stop making other people the problem and start to look at why so much of your emotional stability is based on how other people react to you. Underneath your inflamed emotions is a deeper wound that needs your attention. If you feel the emotions of anger, frustration, hatred, jealousy, or guilt with other people, it can be helpful to identify what you need from them. Asking what you need helps to identify what you are not getting that causes these types of emotions. In my above examples with the two men that I had confrontation with, I was not getting love, compassion, understanding, encouragement, or acceptance and they were treating me with harshness and aggression. The second question to ask yourself is what happens when you do not get what you want from another person? My answer was that I feel hurt, sad, confused, angry, and resentful and based on these emotions there is a necessity for me to demand that they treat me nicely in order for me to feel ok. This is why most of us are a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. We hold onto so much pain in our bodies and require everyone in our lives to treat us in a certain way so we do not explode. For me, after having enough of my confrontations with men, I started to look at the causes of my emotional pain and began to practice becoming present for it in my life. Like all wounds, they take time to heal, but if you look at what you need from others it can bring you to a place of providing for yourself.
The third step is the act of providing a certain quality of presence to the feelings that are associated with your wounds. Again, if you want to heal an emotional wound, you have to examine what you feel when you do not get what you want from another person. I saw that I needed men to treat me with respect. This went all of the way back to my childhood to my interactions with my grandfather. Of course I did not get this from him and I desperately wanted and needed it, so much so that I searched and demanded a certain type of reaction or presence from most of the men in my life. In order to find healing for an emotional wound, I have to address what I feel in relationship to not getting acceptance from my grandfather and other men. Like all wounds, physical or emotional, you have to close the gap in order for there to be healing. A physical wound needs stiches and an emotional wound needs connection, consistent focus, attention, and vigilant presence. In the gap or separation in relation to emotional wounds exist our frustrations, angers, and resentments that are based on expectations and needs. When you stay vigilant with your emotions and no longer search for other people to provide for what you were missing in your past, you start to feel more solid and secure in your being. It means that you are less prone to getting others to meet the needs of your emotional wounds. You are less concerned with others changing in order to feel ok and you are more focused on yourself as the primary relationship that will provide for you. This also means that anger and frustration no longer become necessary in order to demand that your needs be met by others. This is the shift that occurs when you decide to feel the emotional wounds and where they come from in your life. It opens you up to a quality of your presence that provides love and attention. This love and attention that you give to yourself based on your emotions is the foundation of every single need that you look to others to fulfill. Your relationship with yourself strengthens and deepens through the pain or hurt that you have been through in your life. It draws in your love and attention and changes and softens the quality of your own presence. You are the answer to your emotional wounds and healing. The changes that can occur in your life based on creating connection in relation to negative emotions is absolutely remarkable. You have the ability to become the support system that you have always been searching for.
Healing emotional wounds is an incredible, challenging, and remarkable process. It first takes an acknowledgement that we have an emotional wound that needs our attention. Secondly, we have to shift away from blaming others as the source of our emotional turbulence. We also have to look a little deeper at our relationships in order to understand what we are searching for from other people and what it feels like when they do not give us what we want and need. This leads us to the third step in healing, which is beginning to provide focused attention to our emotions, shifting the quality of our presence in order to become the loving and attentive person that we have searched for in others. Emotional healing is a process of strengthening our relationship with ourselves and becoming more loving and supportive in all areas of life.
Our upcoming Truth Program will teach you so much in relation to your emotional health and will take you through a process of personal emotional healing. Through the month of November you will receive classes, information, techniques, practices, and community in order to learn the connection between your emotions and self-love and support.
Below is an article called The Holy Pause which can support you in creating a consistent practice around connecting with emotions in the physical body.