Why Accepting Old Wounds Can Help Move You Forward in Life
Some people call me brave for taking leaps others only enjoy dreaming of. Leaps like quitting a soul-sucking job. Or traveling as a solo female. Others call me "blessed" for finding love along the way - not to mention a love that will support and journey with me. (By the way, I was blessed before him. But I digress.)
But if I were being completely honest with you and myself, I'd admit that I still have trouble with being brave and don't always realize my blessings. However, I can say that time has granted me hindsight and I am sure that my best forward-moving decisions and transitions blossomed from facing and accepting old wounds - even if I didn't know it at the time.
The more I realize that I have control over my perceptions and emotional responses, the more I allow myself to cry, laugh, and accept circumstance as a part of my journey in life.
The wounds that stop you from living well
When we think of wounds - whether from heartbreak, abuse, or darker times - we think of scars. Ugly, bulging scars (or scabs) that everyone stares at the moment we enter the room.
Scars that, despite their fading and absence of real-time pain (phantom pain is very real for some), we allow to define us.
We forget that most of the time, people don't even notice our scars. But we do. And they shackle our wrists and ankles like chained slaves with fading hopes to be free.
What we don't realize is that as we hold on to those wounds, we miss out on very special opportunities. Opportunities to live a better life. Work opportunities. Relationship opportunities. Even TRAVEL opportunities. How can you grow into the best version of yourself when you are deflecting every opportunity that comes by?
How to Release the Effect of Old Emotional Wounds
How do you face an old wound without being crippled by it? Acceptance. Maybe even appreciation. Appreciation for the person you are now because of it.
This week I briefly visited Washington, DC - a place I haven't visited in eight years, exactly. I vowed never to return after a devastating break up a few years later. It held too many memories about the boyfriend I lived with while interning in DC and the horrible, horrible fights we'd have. While there were probably just as many good memories, my preferred response was to hold on to the bad.
It marked a time when I was continuously putting him, his goals, and success before my own in an effort to "make it work". A time when I despised him for his carefree, selfish living as I gave myself wholeheartedly. A time when lies and deceit were the topics of conversation and I no longer knew trust.
I wanted nothing to do with those wounds but I knew it was time to make new memories.
So I returned. And it wasn't a "let me talk about everything that happened here" / "how does that make you feel" therapy session at all. (Ugh, thank God!)
the goal in accepting old wounds is to create transparency in them. The reasons why old wounds hurt so much is because we keep picking at the scab and don't allow it to heal.
For example: as a child, whenever I fell and scraped my knee, the one piece of advice from my mother would be, "Just leave it alone. It'll get better on its own." Ok... it was actually her second piece of advice - after "Stop running."
So I'd stop giving meaning to it and allowed it to exist for healing, but not in my everyday space. It's not like I suddenly forgot the cut was there. I just didn't look at it, cry about it, nor recall the incident over and over.
But we do this in life all the time. We give more meaning to haunting memories than to our present. Than to those who love us now. Than to our hopes, dreams, and inner peace. We water and feed our bad memories so much that they grow stronger and faster.
In order to move forward in life, we must cultivate positivity. Acceptance. Future opportunities and relationships cannot blossom if we allow weeds to take over.
It is okay to feel emotion from old wounds. But in that emotion, can you realize that you are a survivor? That you are now free? That you are no longer a prisoner to that situation? That is your goal. Because once you can release yourself from identifying with that suffering, you can move forward.
And you deserve to move forward.
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