If you’ve gone through a series of bad relationships — or you just had one big bad one that left you a wreck, then the ‘season of love’ is likely not your favourite time of year.
And while a thoughtless season fling might be tempting in the attempt to ease your unresolved pain, you might want to stop and think about how it will affect your well-being.
We speak to Benjamin Zulu, a psychologist and life coach on the detrimental effect of living with unresolved emotional wounds.
It’s only days after the Valentine’s weekend, that time of the year when many a lonely heart threw caution to the wind in exchange for a bouquet of flowers and candle lit dinners.
She accommodated that date from ‘that guy’, the one whose texts she has been ignoring, because in her heart of hearts, she knows he’s bad news.
While Valentine's Day is meant to be a reminder of “unconditional” love, it can act as a trigger that stirs up wounds; wounds that keep us from becoming the best version of us. So, just how much is that unresolved pain affecting your life? And how will a thoughtless season fling affect your well-being?
Benjamin Zulu, a psychologist and life coach, had this to say:
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How does one recognise and acknowledge the need to find healing?
The biggest hindrance to finding healing emanates from a negative ego; not wanting to admit that you need help. Be true to yourself; observe patterns in your life because they are communicating something.
If your friends and family are repeatedly highlighting something you need to deal with, please listen.
You can consult a psychologist or life coach to help you come to a place of focus and stop things that keep you from being fully productive.
How do emotional wounds affect the productivity of an individual?
An individual suffering from unresolved emotional wounds finds it hard to genuinely connect with people. They can be hard to work with and extremely sensitive to correction.
Their reaction to issues is disproportional to the situation at hand. For example, a simple point of correction from a colleague can result in them having an outburst and speaking in extreme anger.
Emotional wounds result in anger, fear, shame and guilt. Effects of emotional wounds resulting from dysfunctional relationships spill over and affect our work, our interaction with individuals who could act as bridges of opportunity.
Parental wounds for example, chip at an individual’s confidence greatly thus compromising on their ability to pursue big dreams.
That said, wounds don’t just heal because time happened. If we don’t intentionally seek healing, then when we encounter experiences that trigger those chambers of our soul, we relive the pain all over again. This can keep us in cycles that act as a limitation to harnessing our full potential.
Emotional wounds cause people to end up in sick marriages, stomach bad working conditions and so on.
So, no, that heartbreak wasn’t just a feeling that you can lock away and not deal with. Issues with your dad are not just a thing of the past – unless you’ve dealt with the matter intentionally. Your long-term relationship with that abusive boss isn’t over just because you got sacked. Talk to a friend or seek professional help if you can afford to. You could be operating at 10 per cent of what you have to offer the world. Deal with the leaks and you will enjoy watching yourself become.
For orphans, it is important to deal with self-neglect. If I could write a letter to that girl, that boy, I would say; Honey, it is important that you allow God to fill the void in your heart for a sense of belonging and identity.
In my years of experience as a life coach and a counselor, I have come to see that the only thing that can truly fill the void in an orphan’s heart is a walk of faith. They struggle with fears that others can’t relate to, even when they are brought up in a loving environment and are raised by responsible guardians.
It still feels like there’s something missing. And if they aren’t careful, they end up in relationships for the sake of ensuring there is continuity of their lineage.
Another symptom of unresolved emotional wounds is overworking; where people turn their jobs to become their identities.
How does one start the journey to healing?
Take the first step, research. See how your behaviour connects to certain conditions. Then contact a person you trust (friend, relative, mentor) or an expert. An expert can help you come to a place of emotional balance.
What tools can one employ to prevent getting into emotionally unhealthy places?
Be realistic, when someone shows their toxic nature. Believe them. Quite trying to nurture them into healing or into the potential you see.
Learn to be happy alone; enjoy your own company.
How does one develop a vision that helps them stay on track?
Most people simply have low flames; they aim low and are okay with having security but not success. Most don’t want to work at digging out their potential and serving it to the world.
Develop a vision in line with something that sets your soul on fire. Passion can help you forego certain things that you perceive as destructive to achieving what you want.
What does one do when they feel helpless and hence start crossing boundaries they had set for themselves?
First, find accountability; have friends that call you back to sobriety. Someone you can reach out to and you know that they will sincerely have your back.
Second, love where you are going enough to make sacrifices. A vision backed by passion will ensure discipline.
How does one start from scratch when they feel like they have wasted so much time?
Whether in business or relationships, even coming from a broken marriage, you are not starting from scratch. You are starting from experience. Everything you’ve gone through should have left you wiser.
In any case, the villain always deteriorates, nature always avenges the innocent. So, take heart. Enjoy the peace you have now and don’t look at the past with eyes of regret.
How does one close painful chapters?
Don’t overlook your emotional health. We tend to live more from how we feel rather than from our intellectual capacity.
A doctor will smoke his lungs away despite understanding the health implications of that stick. Feelings are a powerful force.