To Heal A Wound, You Gotta Stop Touching It ~ Elephant Journal

August 31, 2016


“But we cannot simply sit and stare at our wounds forever.” ~ Haruki Murakami

How many times have you done this….

Somebody really, deeply hurts you and you replay the event over and over and over again in your mind, reliving the pain each time which makes you feel 1000 times worse.

Or you break up with somebody only to continue to go back to them over and over again even though nothing has changed between the two of you and each time it ends for the same reasons you ended it in the past.

Or maybe you know somebody is toxic for you whether it be a friend, a family member or an ex and you keep allowing them back into your life whether it’s continuing to accept their phone calls, responding to their texts or not setting boundaries to keep them from contacting you.

I refer to this as, “Creating our own suffering”. It’s when we continue to stay in the same painful cycle by giving energy to a person, situation or past trauma that caused a whole lot of pain and suffering in our lives. We’re still rehashing it with friends, reliving it in our minds, engaging with the person who caused the pain, revisiting the spot where some traumatic event occurred or refusing to just let it go.

When I was in this very situation, despondent, depressed and still crying over a situation that had happened in my life and the way someone continued to treat me, I asked my best friend when the pain would end. “When will this stop? When will I not feel this way anymore?” I cried.

“When the pain gets great enough, you’ll stop allowing the behavior,” she responded gently.

I sat with that. A long time. And I realized what she meant. If I wanted to heal this particular deep, painful wound I would have to stop poking at it by doing all of the things I mention above.

We can’t heal from something if we keep going back into the “story”. There’s what happened, and then there’s the story that we’ve created around what happened.

We assign meaning to everything in our lives. Our story around a particular event that has happened in our lives (or in some cases, what has not happened) is created by us based on our own perceptions… what we made it mean about the other person, what we made it mean about ourselves, what we made it mean about relationships, what we made it mean about the world.

And then there’s just what actually happened. Which is just a set of facts.

We all have the power and choice to end a situation or a dynamic with another person that is causing us pain and create something different in our lives. We can choose to wallow in whatever injustice we feel has been done to us. We can choose to stay in unhealthy relationships with people who continue to trigger or hurt us. We can keep revisiting some horrible event in our lives that devastated us and reliving the pain over and over again in our minds.

Or we can choose to heal by letting it go. And I mean really, truly letting it go so that we can energetically create space for something better to come in.

Anytime we cling tightly to something and hold onto old stuff whether it be grudges, past relationships that didn’t work out, petty arguments we had with somebody years ago or even something we did that we’re having a difficult time forgiving ourselves for, we remain stagnant.

I have some experience with “wound picking” myself and after further infecting quite a few of my own wounds and allowing them to fester much longer than they needed to, I’ve learned what works in helping them to heal much faster.

These are some tips you might want to try if you’re one of those wound pickers:

  • Stop replaying the event in your mind. I know it’s hard and often we can’t control our own thoughts, but when I find myself reliving an event that was very painful for me in my head, I ask myself what I’m getting by reliving it again in that moment. When I realize the answer is just “more pain”, I switch my thoughts to something happening in the present that I’m excited about or something new that I want to create in my life.
  • Set boundaries with people, most importantly with yourself. If you’re trying to heal from a break up for example, continuing to be in contact with that person, rehashing old shit from the past and holding on to something you know needs to be let go is not the answer.    Request that the person not contact you. Resist the urge to call them, email them, text them, stalk their social media pages or convince yourself that you can “just be friends”. NOPE. You can’t just be friends right now. A clean break and some distance is the only way to heal a wound that is still raw and blistering.
  • Get yourself out of victim mode.  When something or someone hurts us, we feel like a victim. It’s normal, natural and oftentimes true. Sometimes, you know what? We are the victim of somebody else’s shitty actions or of life itself. Because life often isn’t fair.  The bottom line is… it’s over.  You can’t go back and change it so you have to find a way to move through it. This doesn’t mean you can’t still have feelings of hurt, loss, sadness, anger, or confusion over whatever happened. But you can empower yourself by making the choice to shift the focus from “being the victim” to “having the power to decide what’s next.” We create everything in our lives so start focusing on creating something you want instead of what you lost or what you were forced to let go of.
  • Give yourself closure. And I mean you have to GIVE IT TO YOURSELF. We often don’t get the answers we want regarding why a particular thing happened in our lives or why somebody did something to us. And most of us have a desperate need to understand  “why”.

Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this? How could they treat me this way? Why did they not want to be with me?

Sometimes people do things that we don’t understand. They lie, steal, verbally or physically abuse us, run away,  betray or attack us. Whatever it is, people do things that they themselves don’t fully understand.

Sometimes we can’t get closure because that person has died or we are no longer in contact with them so we can’t get the answers we need. Other times things happen that have no explanation whatsoever.

So the closure has to come from within us. It’s a decision we make to accept that it happened at all.  We may never know why but we accept that this was part of our journey and we now have to close the book and move forward beyond the pain and the trauma.

I was talking to a friend tonight who I’ve watched over the past several months pick at the same wound over and over, not wanting to accept that sometimes there aren’t answers as to why things went down the way they did or whether any closure will ever come.

I’ll pass along the same advice my best friend gave me:

 “When the pain gets great enough, you’ll stop allowing the behavior.”  Not just from other people, but from yourself as well.




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  1. I have a question for you , being new to this…so if you ask someone not to contact u so you can heal the wound of past abuse & dyfunction…when would you re-contact the person to try & repair the relationship & set boundaries …if they are someone you may not be willing to go no contact with forever. I could use some advise on what to do once I feel you are strong enough & have worked on my own healing. i am afraid to approach it too soon & be pulled back into the same toxic family cycle, which has happened before. Thank you , this post really spoke to me.

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