Healing from Old Wounds

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We have a tendency to discount our feelings, to put others before ourselves even when we are extremely hurt, and to bury problems we may have rather than deal with them fully. As such, it can be hard to move on from issues that are still lingering below the surface. 

Your cancer journey is not just centered on physical improvement, although there is a general emphasis on treatments that physically attack the cancer in your body. Your cancer journey also includes emotional growth and mental wellbeing. As such, part of your emotional treatments involves healing from old wounds. This means that you should take time to self-reflect: what is really bothering me? What have I pushed aside for far too long, when the situation still hurts? This is the time to bring all of that back to the surface, with the intention of shifting through it all to reach conclusions, learn your lessons, and then move on from it, leaving it all in the past to ensure a brighter future and a more content sense of the present. Although it may hurt and take time, this action is a natural part of human development, it is tremendously worthwhile.

The Scientific Behind Old Wounds

The trauma of old wounds, which are sometimes referred to as ‘grudges,’ has been scientifically found to literally weigh you down. For example, Xue Zheng of Erasmus University conducted an experiment where he asked “160 undergrads to write about a time they’d experienced a conflict. Some were instructed to reflect on a time when they didn’t forgive the offender, others were told to think about the time they did forgive the person, and a third group wrote about a comparatively dull social interaction… hey were then given a small physical challenge: jumping five times, as high as they could, without bending their knees. The results suggest that the “weight” of carrying a grudge may be more than just a metaphor: Students who’d been primed to think about a time they forgave someone jumped the highest.”[1] If the weight of old wounds is physically measurable, can you imagine how much of a toll they could be taken on your emotional and mental outlook? The answer is too much

How to Heal

In order to heal from emotional wounds, we must first recognize the situation for what it is; we must look at it with an unbiased eye and absorb all that we can from the situation. Further, we should“accept and love all parts of our experiences and recognize the value they offer. All of this is so we may move toward embracing the whole of self. That means moving away from judgment about good or bad experiences. It means we have to move away from the mindset that says feeling good, and being happy are the only experiences worth having.”[2]Taking the time and effort to revisit old wounds in order to heal from them is not fun; some may see it as a negative experience for bringing up hurt feelings. However, that is the superficial view; in order to be our best self, we have to be our complete self, and this means fully healing and moving on from our past.

It is also important to express self-love; don’t be too hard on yourself, for either letting the pain linger on for too long or for mistakes you have made in your past. The decision to heal from old wounds is a big one, and “this is a process, not a race. Many of us have layers to uncover to heal the wounds in our space. We can only do as much as we can do. That is enough.”

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how to heal from lingering emotional wounds, it is important to take as much time as necessary to fully realize the situation, come to your best conclusions, make the decision to heal and move on, and then let your actions follow suit. As part of your healing process, you may have to forgive others, which is not always an easy feat. To learn more about forgiveness, the science behind it, and tips for forgiving, click here.

Final Thoughts

Recognize that your emotional and mental healing is just as important as your physical treatments during your cancer journey. One way in which to enlighten yourself, and then feel literally lighter, is to emotionally heal from old wounds. This is no easy task, and often requires us to reflect on harder times that are unpleasant; however, learning to become completely vulnerable and transparent with ourselves in order to heal is so empowering. It’s a tool that puts you in charge of reconciling with your past in order to be presently aware and open for your future. 

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[1]Dahl, Melissa. “Holding a Grudge May Literally Weigh You Down.” New York Magazine. 2015.

[2]King, Phyllis. “7 steps to heal your emotional wounds.” Soul’s Code.

CMN Hospital