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8 Epic Truths About Emotional Healing from Physical Wounds.

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As a care minister, I have spent most of my adult life working with people who need physical and emotional healing.

I have spent countless hours sitting with hurting people waiting for someone to come out of surgery. I have spent substantial time praying with individuals struggling with emotional wounds caused by someone else or self-inflicted.

I have noticed that physical and emotional healing share many similarities but that there are some significant differences, as well. The insights gained from these experiences have real-world implications for interacting and ministering to the emotionally wounded.

Similarities-Difference in Physical and Emotional Healing.

What are the similarities and differences in physical and emotional healing?

A wound is an injury to living tissue. A deceased body might experience additional damage, but it no longer feels the effects of the wound.

Wounds are for the living—just one more reason to be happy to be alive.

While most physical wounds are generally visible, emotional wounds are sometimes skillfully concealed (1). Most physical injuries are accompanied by bruising, bleeding, and the sound of a person in obvious pain. However, an emotional wound is often hidden from sight until someone accidentally disturbs it or the individual chooses to reveal it.

Most visible physical wounds elicit immediate sympathy and response from others; the unseen and unknown emotional injury will receive neither (2). 

If we see someone who has fallen, our first response is to ask if they are okay and then offer to help them up. (I know some of you laugh first before providing help. To you, it is not funny until someone gets hurt. You know who you are.)

But it is harder to recognize an emotional wound or gauge its destructive impact.

Emotional wounds, if unseen, will not garner sympathy or a response from others.

The passage of time is often beneficial for someone suffering a physical injury, but it can hinder healing for the emotionally wounded (3).

emotional healing time
Time does not heal all wounds.

The physical body may heal itself without any additional intervention needed. Bruises will fade. Bleeding will scab over. Scars will develop. Rest, aspirin, ice, heat, and time may be necessary.

And some emotional wounds will heal with time. For example, someone may apologize for the harm done, and the incident may be forgiven or forgotten.

But for some, emotional injuries will grow worse over time.

Covering a physical wound can promote healing, but concealing an emotional injury will cause additional damage (4).

Research indicates that covering a physical wound may actively promote healing. The body may need bandaids or immobilization devices such as slings and casts for a limited time.

However, uncovering an emotional wound can sometimes cause additional pain. As a result, deep wounds are often fiercely protected to avoid further harm.

Proverbs 14:13 says, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.”

Sometimes our emotional injuries are hidden due to griefshame, or fear.

Few will dispute the need for a professional to handle a complex or severe physical injury, but many will question the need for a specialist to heal an emotional wound (5). 

Sometimes, the body may require surgical intervention due to the complexity and severity of the wound. Examples include removing a bullet from a gunshot wound or inserting a metal plate or screw for a broken bone. 

But emotional wounds can be as complex and just as damaging to the individual’s overall health. 

Emotional wounds, when seen, are often diminished or dismissed. For example, we say that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  

Whether we take the severity of emotional wounds seriously or not, the brain does. 

The Brain Treats Emotional Wounds Like Physical Ones (6).

To the brain, an emotional wound can be as significant as a physical wound (6). 

Research indicates that the brain experiences physical and emotional pain are pretty similar.  

Although the brain does not process emotional pain and physical pain identicallyresearch on neural pathways suggests there is substantial overlap between the experience of physical and social pain.” Nicole F Roberts Forbes Magazine Article  Feb 14, 2020.

If the brain processes them similarly, should we not take them as seriously as a physical wound?

emotional healing dr teddy bear
Emotional injuries may require medical as well as spiritual intervention.

Emotional healing involves similar steps to resolving a physical wound (7). 

A typical medical doctor visit concerning a physical injury will include a consult, a diagnosis, and a treatment plan. The treatment of an emotional injury will follow the same steps. 

Consult: We have to talk about it with someone, even ourselves.

Diagnose: We have to understand what the problem is. Often this can be determined by outward symptoms or actions.

Treatment Plan: We have to receive the instructions for treating the wound. Sometimes we are reluctant to a new plan – because our old program was working so well. 

Action: Even if we read or hear the instructions, we will not see a change in our condition unless we act on the advice we receive. 

Emotional healing typically involves ourselves, others, and God (8). 

Relationships, the source of the initial injury, are often a part of the remedy. Sometimes, we can process the damage by ourselves. But there comes a time when we have to reach out for help. Occasionally, we need close friends, groups, and pastoral or secular counseling to help us. Many of them have been through similar experiences. And sometimes we can find help through prayer, the Bible, or the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

4 Principles Concerning Emotional Healing

What can we learn from comparing physical and emotional healing?

  • We need to recognize that emotional wounds may be concealed.
  • We need to learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional wounds.
  • We must treat emotional wounds with the same care and concern we give physical injuries.
  • We need to understand that some emotional wounds may require assistance from others and that complex wounds may require professional help.

If willing, we can learn about emotional healing by observing how a physical wound is treated. But we must also be aware of the significant differences as we minister to others.

Would you consider sharing this article with someone else? Feedback is always welcome.

Maybe you need to read the following two promises today.

Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

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