How to Find Emotional Healing

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If you found this article, you’re probably looking for emotional healing of some sort. You may even be wondering if it is possible. The answer is yes—emotional healing is always possible, as long as you are open to releasing expectations about what the experience will be like or what it will lead to.

The reality is that you will never be the same person as you were before whatever happened that you are healing from.  That can feel scary, but that can also feel incredibly freeing as you attempt to find yourself and experience post-traumatic growth.

Read on to find out what emotional healing is and how to find it in your own life.

What Is Emotional Healing?

Emotional healing is the process of acknowledging, allowing, accepting, integrating, and processing painful life experiences and strong emotions. It may involve empathy, self-regulation, self-compassion, self-acceptance, mindfulness, and integration.

Many people have a tendency to want to control the process of emotional healing by minimizing the pain and controlling their emotions, but this can actually inhibit the process of emotional healing.

Emotional healing takes the time that it takes—which may be longer or shorter than you expect or plan on—if you allow it to be fully acknowledged, felt, moved through, and processed.

Emotional healing will look different for everybody, but it may include emotional regulation skills, a feeling of lightness, and stronger relationships as you are able to be more present with yourself and your loved ones.

When Do You Need Emotional Healing?

All people will need emotional healing at some point during their lives—we all experience challenges and difficult emotions that need processing.

Some common life stressors after which people may seek emotional healing include:

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Breakups
  • Job loss
  • Abuse (including emotional, physical, and sexual)
  • Illness

Outside of specific events, it's also possible to experience intensifying, lingering, and seemingly unshakeable anger, sadness, or anxiety that feels like it is taking over your life. These feelings may cause a functional impairment in your day-to-day life. Emotional healing may look different if symptoms are becoming chronic.

No matter what the trigger for your difficult emotions, emotional healing is possible in all of these scenarios.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Healing

We won't sugarcoat it—emotional healing is not an easy process, but it can be incredibly rewarding for many people and help them find clarity and inspiration in life beyond whatever it is they are healing from. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself as you embark on your healing journey.

What are you healing from? Maybe you don’t know, but you know you’d like things to be different:

  • How is not healing affecting your life?
  • What do you want your life to look like after you’ve healed?
  • If you woke tomorrow, how would you know you had healed?
  • Are you ready to heal?
  • Are you willing to sit through some discomfort in service of healing?
  • What will help you on your emotional healing journey?
  • How has not yet healing served you?
  • What can you do to make your healing journey gentle for yourself?

Tips for You As You Heal

Practice self-compassion—you’re not broken. It’s pretty hard to heal if you’re beating yourself up all the time, and one study showed that those who practice self-compassion show greater increases in well-being than those who didn’t.

Thank yourself. Yes, that’s right—thank yourself. Despite the emotional pain you’ve experienced that’s leading you on this emotional healing journey, you have made it this far. Whatever coping mechanisms you used worked for you at the time, even if they don’t work now, or weren’t the “healthiest” in the first place. 

Don't go it alone. Science shows we heal better together. Your instinct might be to go into hiding until you are “done” healing, but the reality is that your friends and family probably want to help you! Reach out to someone who feels safe.

Don’t try to “fix” it all at once. Emotional healing is not simple, and whatever happened to you likely has deeper roots in you than you realized and may be affecting you in many ways. Back to being realistic: don’t expect to fix all the ways your issue or trauma has affected you all at once.

Sit through it. This may be one of the hardest things to do. You are likely experiencing a range of deep feelings such as sadness, grief or rage. Those aren’t fun emotions and it’s tempting to want to ignore them or rush through them. It will be uncomfortable but acknowledging tough feelings is part of healing. The good news is that feelings do pass even if it doesn’t feel like they will.

Know that progress isn’t linear. You may feel like you are making the best breakthroughs, and then you have a terrible day where you feel like all of your emotional healing has been undone—or that you did something wrong. If you broke a leg, you might have a bad day where you’re in pain again despite a sustained period of healing. 

Benefits of Emotional Healing

You may not like the pain that you’re in, but maybe you’re afraid to work on emotional healing because you’re afraid of what you might find in the process. This is a valid concern, but here are some of the health benefits that are associated with the positive emotions associated with healing.

  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Potentially longer life span 
  • Lower cortisol (stress hormone) output
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less likely to develop upper respiratory infection when exposed to a common cold or flu

How to Find Emotional Healing

If you're trying to heal your emotional pain, here are some ways that you can embark on your journey to emotional healing.

Therapy 

Emotional healing can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be painful in the interim. You might want to consider talking to a mental health professional who is trained in working with people on emotional healing journeys every day.

They can help you heal at a pace that is appropriate for you and provide the insight you might not be able to reach on your own. 

Mindfulness

When we are attempting emotional healing from something, it can be very easy to get pulled back into past events or to catastrophize what the future will be like if you don’t heal. Mindfulness practices can help you be in the present moment and see that, at this moment, you are just fine.

Journaling is often suggested—and for good reason. Research shows that journaling is an effective way to reach insights into the unconscious by helping people work through their feelings and make meaning of what has happened to them. 

Allow yourself to feel the fullness of your grief, anger, pain, or loss without attaching further meaning, stories, or thoughts. This can be deeply healing and helpful in processing emotions.

Research indicates the cycle of an emotion may last only 90 seconds. This information can help emotions feel less overwhelming. When you are overcome by an emotion, you can keep an eye on the clock to note how long it takes before the feeling dissipates—employing mindfulness skills in the meantime.

Notice, allow, and describe the physical sensation of the emotion moving through your body without judging it or attempting to change it. Breathe through the sensations.

You can perform exercises to ground yourself such as putting your feet on the floor, drinking a sip of water, or running cold water over your hands.

Move Your Body

As you're experiencing difficult emotions, try to move your body to help process your feelings. Move your body in ways that it wants to move (i.e., slowly or quickly, shaking or running).

Moving the body to process stress or trauma can be seen in the animal kingdom as well. In his book "Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma," therapist Peter A. Levine notes that in the wild, an impala that escapes its predator will instinctively "shake off" the traumatic event, regaining full movement of its body.

Therapeutic techniques like somatic experiencing (SE) and trauma release exercises (TRE) can help process and move trauma and emotions from within the body. SE involves a person becoming aware of their internal bodily sensations and bringing awareness to them. TRE involves a person intentionally moving their bodies to decrease stress levels.

Get Support

Be open to receiving support from your community. Allow yourself to be seen, supported, and cared for by friends and loved ones.

How Do I Know If I Am Healing?

There is no finish line to cross that signifies that you are now a fully healed being! In fact, emotional healing can sometimes be so gradual you may not even realize how much you've healed, and other people may notice it before you.

But if you can look back at a situation without being overcome by emotion, you can better bounce back in the face of adversity, or you simply feel a greater sense of peace, this means you are certainly well on your way to emotional healing.

There may be deeper and deeper levels of emotional healing to be discovered. Do your best to live in a way that honors and supports your continued journey of emotional healing. This will allow you to experience ever-expanding emotional healing that can improve your physical, emotional, and mental health, well-being, satisfaction in life, and connection to yourself and others.

Press Play for Advice On Healing From Trauma

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring Holocaust survivor Dr. Edith Eger & daughter Dr. Marianne Engle shares how to heal from trauma and build resilience. Click below to listen now.

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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