Emotional healing takes self-empathy

By Ted Wiard
Posted 8/8/19

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a …

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Emotional healing takes self-empathy


This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

Dear Dr. Ted:

I am 55 years old and I've been doing a lot of reflecting on my life lately. Not long ago I was verbally attacked for events that happened in my childhood when I was about 7. The person claimed I was mean and evil. All I was trying to do was be helpful and protective as us kids had no adult supervision. I was crushed when this person accused me with these labels, but I also see how: many of my behaviors were not appropriate in hindsight. I feel miserable and have to reevaluate the image I have of myself. What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks, Roberta

Dear Roberta:

I'm always inspired when people are willing to look at their lives and do the hard and introspective work to allow healing and growth. Thank you for bringing this topic to the public and thank you for being willing to do your healing work. When you do introspective and historical work it is important to make sure you have healthy support that allows you to look into yourself and still function within the demanding world around you.

Support may come from professionals in mental health or spiritual health practices and it may be found in other people such as friends, groups or family. The important part is even though the work is from you, being emotionally held while you go through the process is important and allows for a witness, and someone to reflect your thoughts with and possibly have insight rather than advice.

Something to remember is that you may have a tendency of judging yourself with your present-day maturation and wisdom, rather than the age you were when the behaviors occurred that you may wish had not happened. Each person has a right to their emotions and resentments, but it does not make them accurate in your narrative of what happened or why something happened. Two people could be telling the truth with very different stories due to their perception of the incident.

As you reflect on your life, please remember that your wisdom today came from actions from the past and you did not have that wisdom as a child. Often, children are put in adult roles and do not have the skills or maturity to respond in the situation as a healthy adult may respond. This makes complete sense, and yet there may be an enormous expectation that the child responds and acts like an adult.

This may have been the situation you found yourself in back when you were 7 years old. As the adult expectations are placed on the child and the child becomes overwhelmed, the child may act "inappropriately" as a scream for help, or just being appropriately clueless for not knowing how to act like a mature adult. With this in mind, you may be able to have empathy for that young person who was probably doing their best with the skills they had at that time.

Seeing and recognizing that you were in a no-win situation might help you realize that it does not mean you are confined and defined by that event. In this you can give yourself the love and kindness that you may not have received at that time and heal old wounds. To remember that decisions and actions of our past do not define you, and accusations by others do not mean that they are your truth.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat at GWR@newmex.com.


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.