It is when we are under intense competition that we open ourselves to understanding the true nature of life. We then accept how complicated, enriching and precious life really is. Perhaps life can be described as the sum of many evolving emotions. These emotions become our memories, and this makes life very enriching, even priceless. They define who we are. We are obviously a product of our experiences and emotions, which then play a major role in shaping our identity and personality.

We might theorise that our personalities are formed and shaped by our childhood bonds, or in some cases, the lack of them. All children desire a loving and affectionate relationship with their parents. When the parent is, however, unwilling or incapable of establishing a loving bond with the child, this leaves a huge vacuum in the child’s psyche. The absence of this love not only brings confusion and insecurity, but it leaves an “emotional wound”, a scar in the psyche. The unfortunate victims of this emotional wound carry this burden with them for the rest of their life. Some go on to spend their entire adult lives attempting to fill the vacuum created by unrequited parental love. It really is a vacuum. The emotional wound then becomes their obsession as well as their nemesis.

The tragedy is that we get sucked into the vortex of an “unhealed emotional wound.” Our obsession to fill the vacuum only intensifies our obsession. In our confusion and desperation, we try in vain to fill the vacuum in every relationship that we encounter.  Marriages are destroyed when people unfairly wish their spouses to fill the vacuum. The problem is aggravated when we are so preoccupied with the vacuum that we neglect the emotional needs of our own children. A new vicious circle is thus started. The phenomenon continues to wreck havoc for generations.

The dangers of unhealed emotional wounds are described by Gael Lindenfield, the author of The Emotional Healing Strategy (MICHAEL JOSEPH, 2008). Lindenfield correctly points out that these wounds consume quite a lot of our energy. We unconsciously and uncontrollably spend large amounts of our time and energy repetitively thinking about our predicament and the vacuum. This is because we have an innate desire to complete our incomplete self; and this desire is always strongly present inside us. We wish to grow to achieve our full potential, but we often lack the necessary skills and knowledge. Confusion and indecision dominate. We do not know how to begin healing ourselves.

It is possible that what we truly desire is to create some kind of equilibrium between our negative and positive emotions. Gael Lindenfield argues that “positive emotions can contribute to the growth of a new skill and competencies. Negative emotions often undermine growth.” It is our failure to create such an equilibrium that launches our descent deeper into the emotional vacuum.

I believe that unhealed emotional wounds put our health at risk and can become a source of self-destructive actions and behaviour. In extreme cases, they can lead to suicide. They therefore must be healed. Gael Lindenfield presents a seven-step strategy for emotional healing, which is intended to bring the sufferer out of the emotional vacuum. The first five steps – “exploration, expression, comfort, compensation and perspective” – are absolutely essential to launch the recovery process. The last two steps – “channelling and forgiveness” – are very helpful, but not essential.  Contrary to the conventional wisdom of many therapists, Gael does not view “forgiveness” as essential for emotional healing, but rather as a bonus. I do agree with her that genuine forgiveness is not always possible.

Lindenfield’s book is inspiring, instructive and compassionate. It is also provocative. It even compelled me to acknowledge some of my own hidden truths. The book is a reminder that it is only when we are honest with ourselves that we can move forward and heal ourselves. “If we suppress our emotions and make a habit of suppressing them, we not only suppress sorrows and pains we also lose our ability to feel deep joy, love and passion,” Lindenfield argues. I agree, and so we have no choice but to learn how to break free from the cycle of blame and heal the emotional wound. I have published below a few paragraphs from the book. A vacuum in nature will be filled, regardless of the circumstances. A vacuum is therefore dangerous, and emotional vacuums present many dangers to our lives. Unrequited parental love is the most dangerous.

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By Khalid

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