Healing for Damaged Emotions

By Val Silver

Healing for damaged emotions has come to the forefront of holistic healing as the relationship between mental well-being and physical health is established. Gone are the days of being told to suck up your painful feelings. Now we know better and we want better. In response, a plethora of techniques have been developed to help you deal with emotional pain, rid yourself of limiting beliefs, and shift negative thinking.  

Before diving into the hows of healing for damaged emotions, you might find it helpful to read the following pages to familiarize yourself with what emotions are and how you experience them.


Can Emotions Get Damaged? 

Even though we use language such as damaged emotions and emotional wounds, emotions themselves are simply energy in motion and really cannot be harmed. What can be skewed are your beliefs and thoughts, which direct your emotional responses to life circumstances. In other words, thought patterns produce neutral, pleasant, or uncomfortable feelings in the body. They direct how your energy moves in response to them. For a simplified example, consider this: If toddler you dropped your ice cream cone or spilled milk and Mom yelled or spanked you every time it happened, you would develop a negative association and worry about being clumsy and how people would respond. On the other hand, if Mom wiped your tears, told you it was okay, helped you clean it up, and replaced it for you, you would have neutral or positive associations around making mistakes and fixing them. 

When sights, sounds, smells and thoughts trigger memories, you relive them in your imagination, complete with associated emotions and feelings. We all experience this. You find a photo of a lost loved one and the next thing you know you are reminiscing with pangs of loss and sadness. Perhaps a song of betrayal on the radio stirs up feelings of anger and a desire for revenge. If you were the wrong-doer, that same song may stir up guilt and remorse.

That emotions are energy is good news. Gary Craig, creator of the very popular Emotional Freedom Technique teaches that "all negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body's energy system."  When your perspectives shift and the energy is freed up, it flows smoothly. The mental and physical tension related to that disruption is relieved and you feel better. You may not forget, but the charge is gone.

You have some control over this feedback loop. You can choose how to react and each time you choose a different response to your default way of dealing with an emotion or situation, you reinforce the new pattern and weaken the old one. When you shift your thoughts and actions, your emotional energy shifts in response. Healing for damaged emotions can happen quickly and spontaneously. Often it takes time, so be persistent. Sometimes you think you are over an incident, only to discover new aspects making themselves known. Sometimes emotional healing is like peeling an onion. As one layer comes off, another exposes itself so you can alleviate that one, too.

Five Steps of Healing for Damaged Emotions 

healing for damaged emotions, sad to happy faces

Before beginning to dump your emotional garbage, you may find it beneficial to pave the way by giving it voice, hearing it from your heart, and learning from it. Your thoughts, however painful and unpleasant, are there for a reason. Be kind and patient with yourself.

Reminder:  Please consult your medical provider before dealing with emotional pain techniques if you have a diagnosed mental condition or have suffered severe emotional trauma. Take full responsibility for your well-being. If you find yourself reacting strongly or negatively, please stop immediately and seek professional assistance.

These first two steps will begin to shift your emotional energy to a more positive vibration.

Step One - Become fully aware of what you are feeling.

You can only heal what you acknowledge. Awareness is key to healing thoughts and damaged emotions. On a scale of 1-10, how badly are your feelings hurt? How intense are the emotions? How would you label what you are feeling - is it anger, hurt, betrayal, loss? All of the above? 

You goal here is to just notice or witness without resistance or judgment.

Do not worry that acknowledging how you feel will attract negativity to you. Ignoring and suppressing your thoughts fuels them. Examining your feelings honestly, shifting your beliefs, and disarming the triggers does allow you to shift to more positive thoughts for real.

Step Two - Feel the emotion and the accompanying physical sensations.

In order to heal damaged emotions, you have to fee the energy, or sensations in your body. Don' worry, they cannot harm you. Locate the most intensity and witness the sensation with loving awareness for thirty seconds to a minute.

Stay with it without trying to do anything to it or analyzing it. Note any  beliefs, emotions and thinking patterns that show up, whether true or not, then return your attention to the sensation. 

Step Three - Explore and give voice to what triggered the emotion.

What memories, beliefs or feelings came up in step two? If you started the process with an event in mind that's fine, too. If you don't know, take a guess. You will probably be right, and if not, that memory may allow you to open the door to the core event later on. If there are several related events, choose the earliest one. An event with an intensity of five to seven is a good one to start with. 

Be a detective. Some memories are just a thought away. Others are buried so deeply that you forgot they ever happened. Still they are there triggering painful feelings you do not understand.

Once you have identified a trigger, give it a voice. Cuss and yell if you want to. Do not censor your words. Let it out completely. Even exaggerate it. Take all the time you need.  If you prefer to write, do so, but do not keep this paper. Burn it as a symbol of cleansing and freeing yourself.

Step Four - Explore what you learned.

What did you learn about your triggers and the memories they bring up. How did/do they affect your life?

This step is optional, but can help you gain great insights about yourself.  Learning why and how your emotional baggage has helped you, can be restorative.

For example, At ten years old, I became afraid of speaking in front of people thanks to months of cruel teasing in my new school. Being tormented was a new, painful, scary experience for me. This fear, although much improved, is still with me.

One way it helped me is that I learned to protect myself emotionally by being able to shut down at will. Although this defense may inhibit me when I want to speak up, it has saved me untold grief when speaking up would have made a situation worse. Because I still have difficulty expressing myself verbally with ease, I have evolved as a writer, and have chosen to explore and mend other abusive experiences. I am learning to forgive, see other perspectives, feel compassion even when it is not 'deserved',  to heal strained relationships, and when to walk away and stay away. For better or worse, that event played a role in shaping who I am today.

Step Five - Release negative emotions and shift to a better feeling thought.

Even though you can see how charged emotional memories shaped you and helped you adapt as a child, chances are they are limiting you as an adult today. Most likely, you will be healthier, happier and more empowered if you neutralize their negative charge. There are many effective tips and techniques that offer healing for damaged emotions and unhealthy thought patterns. 

Sometimes, just acknowledging your thoughts and relaxing into the emotion, or fully expressing it, as shown in the above steps, is all you need to do.  Other times, healing for damaged emotions requires persistence, help from a professional and/or the aid of releasing techniques. Techniques for dealing with emotional pain and negativity can help you make short work of even long-standing emotional baggage and the limiting beliefs that are often behind them.

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Healing for Damaged Emotions page updated 04/2020

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