4 Ways to Repair Emotional Damage
(emotional) harm caused in such a way as to impair its value, usefulness, or normal function.
Before we get to repair side of things, first it's important to recognize what emotional damage even is. Normal & healthy functioning of our emotions can be impaired as a result of negative things happening to us like traumatic events, losing someone close to us or being hurt by someone/thing. The way we interact with the world after bad things happen may become skewed, fearful, avoidant or hostile, as a means to protect us from being hurt again. This can lead to social isolation, depression, anxiety, repetition of unhealthy patterns in relationships and other forms of distress. It's important to recognize when negative things that we go through begin to create other and more negative circumstances for us, and what we can do to intervene. Below are some ways to do some damage control when things in our life knock the emotional wind out of us:
1. Feel it out. Feel it THROUGH. In order to repair, recover or resolve emotional distress in, you MUST know what you’re feeling so that you can identify what you need to do about it. Avoidance of the discomfort actually prolongs negative emotion, though we often think we’re protecting ourselves and others from the negativity. You can’t go over, under or around the hard stuff; there’s only one way to truly grow (not get) over someone or something—you gotta go through the fire to the other side.
2. Trust the process. It’s really hard to trust again after we’ve been wronged. We become fearful of it happening again so we don’t get as close, as penetrable, as vulnerable with the next. The tricky thing is, when we’re trying so hard to avoid hurting again, we inevitably block ourselves from deeply loving again, too. (or even being loved) You might find yourself trying to connect without taking the risk getting “too close,” because you’ve now equated “too close” to pain. But here’s the thing that I know many don’t want to hear and run away from: Trust, connection, love, etc. REQUIRES risk—they MUST be committed to & actively practiced in order to reap the benefits of what comes on the other side; deep & meaningful attachment, security, emotional safety.
In relationships, your reward will only be as great as
the risk you take to get in the game.
3. Communicate. Once you have a better understanding of what you’re feeling, where it’s coming from and what you need in your relationship, then you have most of the pieces of the puzzle! But sometimes, just sometimes, we get paralyzed in the next step—we don’t believe that our needs are valid or can be met by others, so we keep our needs to ourselves. Question: How will our people know how to be better to us if we don’t tell them and teach them? How will we know if they’re even really our people if we don’t give them a full chance to listen, understand and act in ways to secure us? People are not mind readers and shouldn’t be expected to be. It is OUR responsibility to know what we want, show others how we prefer to be treated, and then stick around or leave based on their ability to meet us where we are. Repairing what was lost or broken in past unfulfilling relationships starts as an inside job, then we recruit a team.
4. Act accordingly. Inside = Outside. Meaningful resolution comes when the life you’re living outside is aligned with the intentions you’ve set from the inside. If you don’t want to be in relationships that feel imbalanced, here’s your permission to LEAVE THEM. If you don’t want a connection that confuses you, ask questions (yes, the hard ones) and if the answers don’t fit your alignment, LEAVE. Here is your permission to live the life you want to live, based on your likes, dislikes, interests, curiosities, dreams, etc. You mold it, you sculpt it, you decide who gets close or inside it, and you decide who has overstayed their welcome; all based on YOU.