A month or two ago I heard on a podcast I listen to that the wound is also the gift. It’s a phrase that’s stuck with me because it rang true, but I couldn’t quite grapple how. This week provided me clarity on the subject.
I’ve always been a sensitive person but growing up I didn’t know how to handle my emotions. I tried to shut them down or numb out in a variety of ways. Those two strategies run rampant in our society and it’s why we see such high rates of addiction and insensitivity. Emotions can be scary for people, especially when the messages a person receives are, “Don’t be sad, don’t be scared, don’t be angry.”
Speaking from experience, it’s impossible for me not to feel sad, scared, or angry, and trying other means to NOT feel my feelings only harmed me. These days I’m taking a new tactic which is to feel my feelings and use them as information to guide me in my life. But because I’ve been on both sides it means I can use my wound and make it a gift. It means that now I live and breathe empathy. In fact, I taught an empathy workshop at a retreat recently. I never thought I’d be a person who is helping other people process their emotions when I was so unskilled, but now, people regularly call me when they’re upset or scared or sad. My emotional wound turned me into someone with high emotional intelligence, and my gift is now I understand how to set and maintain healthy boundaries so I’m not overwhelmed by emotions anymore. Not always, not in every circumstance.
I still try to numb out sometimes, or push my emotions away, but the frequency is less and the duration is shorter. My own experience is helping others. Do I want to be a therapist? Absolutely not because I’m too introverted for that, but I’d love to ghostwrite for therapists. And even without parlaying emotional hygiene into a career, I’m helping myself and my community through modeling and acting as a resource. I’ve come to understand the only way out of anything is through, and that means my feelings too.
My spiritual teacher talks about this as well. He says regarding the innate propensities people have, for instance shyness or cruelty, “You shouldn’t check the flow. You may check the flow to check the flood, but you are to divert that water through different canals. Here also you are to check the flow of your baser propensities and divert it unto that singular propensity, toward the Supreme Self … The mind is moving toward so many unrighteous activities. Withdraw those activities and guide it toward the singular righteous Entity.”
You can’t direct the flow of something if you avoid it altogether. And you might find the things that hurt you become assets later on when helping others. We all have wounds and sometimes those wounds become gifts that foster connection, love, and support. You never know, but it’s an interesting question to ponder.
I dream of a world where we recognize sometimes the things that wounded us also become our greatest gifts. A world where we take what we’ve learned and use it to help others. A world where we come to terms with our past hurts and use them to propel us forward.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.