3 ways we can heal our mental wounds
Let’s assume that you are involved in a domestic accident where you have a cut on your back. You have someone apply first aid and then cover the wound with a bandage. The next day, you go to work and are too embarrassed to let anyone know that you have an injury and so you pretend like all is well. You sit normally and rest your back in the presence of people while trying your best to hide the pain. At the close of work, you return home and you have someone look at the injury. You realize that it is getting worse.
Let’s assume again that rather than seek proper medical attention, you pretend like the injury isn’t there. You go through the following days not even trying to clean the wound anymore. What happens afterwards is that the wound does not heal but rather becomes even worse. The wound also becomes exposed to bacteria. Once bacteria enter the wound, it begins to multiply and the wound now becomes infected. This causes inflammation and tissue damage and may worsen or lead to death if not treated.
Now, mentally, the mind operates like a physical body and is prone to wounds. The mental wounds originate from various sources and these include abuse, experience, trauma, among others. The tragedy of the mental wound, however, is that when we fail to treat it, rather than the wound becoming infected with bacteria, we become the bacteria infecting those around us and causing them to flee at the slightest chance they get. The reason is that we become often angry, irritable and even sadistic.
Also Read : Church wounds and my trust issues
It is not a bad thing to have mental wounds. What is bad is not dealing with them. We are all born whole with a mix of good and bad which we use in response to our environment and circumstances. When we are hurt, the once happy and kind person may become abusive and call us names that make us doubt if we truly know the person. This negative side of us is the ugly side. It is the side that we try our best to hide from people. Worse of all, we try to hide it from those who should really know; our friends, those we want to date, and those we plan to get married to. We only truly become ourselves and ‘show our true colors’ when we are perhaps married or in that relationship with our dream partner or when we have gotten that job and no longer respond to the greetings of the security guards.
Also Read : The demons we fight when we are in love
The problem with mental wounds is that they expose our dark side and surround us with negative thoughts where we feel reclusion is the best way to deal with it because ‘the world does not understand us’. We begin to feel out of place and wonder why some people are happy over a meal at a restaurant and sharing pictures on social media. We wonder what the worth of our life is and contemplate how peaceful it would be to transit to the other side. We do not care anymore about people and this further pushes people away from us. We become more and more lonely and only put up the right appearances for school or work until the day we decide to quit and move on with our lives.
Perhaps one way out – to begin to heal – is to pity ourselves. There is nothing wrong with self-pity even though some may make the word ‘pity’ appear to have a negative connotation. Self-pity entails being responsible for yourself and caring more about both your physical and mental wellbeing. The one who does not have any form of self-pity should be pitied because this means the person is indifferent about life and wellbeing. Indifference is actually the opposite of love. Self-pity is simply reaching out to that ugly side in us with compassion and love. It is saying to ourselves that it is fine to be ridiculed for our beliefs or our actions misunderstood. It is pampering ourselves and giving an imaginary pat on the back to tell ourselves that we did our best in the face of several rejections.
Also Read : How to know if you are depressed
Another way out is the route of emotional honesty where we go on a self-retreat and put all our emotions to the test. At this point, we will ask genuinely frank questions to which we would answer based on our interactions with others. We could ask questions such as, ‘am I fun to be with?’ ‘Do I get angry easily?’ ‘Do I want things my way all the time?’ ‘Do I get envious when someone appears better than me in my job’ ‘Do I feel like I deserve more than I have now?’ When we answer these questions, we begin to realize our negatives. These are probably in our subconscious as a result of the various mental wounds that we carry. We should then begin to address this one by one. Even though it may be tasking, it is possible.
Also, we need to reflect on our actions every night as we go to bed. We need to recall how the day went, how we responded to people, what we said and did wrong and what not to say or do wrong again. We also need to note those we owe apologies for our bad behavior. The reason for this is that not everyone is free from mental wounds. The other person we encountered may be filled with rage towards us but the way we respond serves either as a healing balm or a knife to cut even deeper.
In all of this, we must remember that we are never to be isolated as long as we are alive. We are not here only to take care of ourselves but also others as well. As pilgrims of life, we are tasked to be advocates of self-empathy and empathy to the other. The puzzle cannot be completed without this integration. We all need the self and the other to foster a healthy mental environment. We can do this either with our words or actions. We all lean on one another for support, inspiration and encouragement. This is why we visit counsellors when we require someone whom we feel is there to listen to us and not judge us. We have friends that we rely on and tell all our secrets. We call them our confidants and trust them with our stories. We all need that connection to make us happy and this is what mental wounds rob us of.
Finally, people often refer to mentally wounded people as ‘broken’. But this is not the case. We are all not broken at all. What we are is simply ‘incomplete’. We are incomplete and so we need a helping hand and healing presence to help us through life. This is the same way that we hold the hands of others as well and guide them through life. This is what humanity needs. We are called to be ambassadors of mental health. After all, we are the mental health of creation.
Written by Anthony Onugba, who is the founder of Writers Space Africa and the African Writers Development Trust, where he is Executive Director. Learn more about his works and connect with him via his website, Twitter and Facebook.
Share this post with your friends:
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)