Some of the toughest healing we ever do is to heal our silent wounds. Silent wounds are the wounds where nothing was ever said, but something was definitely communicated. It can be as simple as not getting acknowledgement for a good grade on a test in a subject you love. It can be watching your mother constantly fret over her looks even though she outwardly said that you were beautiful just as you are. It could be the underlying sense that your parents never wanted you even though they said they love you. It could be your father’s constant money worries, and although he never told you that you should worry about money, you learned from his example to be miserly. All of these become silent wounds where there are no scars and not necessarily any big moments to point to as the cause. But they leave indelible marks on you that affect your entire way of living and acting. Now it’s time to heal them.
Healing silent wounds is challenging. It’s hard enough when someone has had a physical abuse to heal that wound and the resulting issues. But when you’re not even sure if you have a wound, the healing process is that much harder. The first step is about finding the tell-tale signs of the silent wounds and then tracking them back to their source, which is usually childhood. Initially, you are probably going to run into a lot of ego resistance because, as I said, there isn’t necessarily an obvious cause of distress. Plus, some silent wounds can be masked by “common sense.” Common sense often makes no sense, and it many times it is nonsense. But we tend to believe that if a lot of people believe something, then it must be true. A common sense silent wound is like the example of the mother worrying about how she looks because “it’s important that a woman looks beautiful.” Right? How many of my amazing women readers believe that line in quotes? And how many of you have realized how wounding it is to constantly judge your physical appearance and do all the things you think you need to do to maintain a level of beauty?
Yes, silent wounds are some of the worst ones because they are so hidden, yet some are hidden in plain sight. So let’s look into this issue so that you can not only identify them, but go deeper in healing and dissolving these invisible pains.
Silent Wounds Are Not Repressed Trauma
I want to pause before we get too far along to acknowledge repressed trauma. It may be easy for some of you to confuse the two if you have repressed trauma. In my experience, if someone has an event that is too overwhelming, they shut down, and the mind may shut down as well to avoid the remembered experience and all the intense sensory and emotional stimuli. In repressing the trauma, the pain takes up residence, and it becomes a silent puppet master that influences tons of decisions and choices just as silent wounds do. As some of you start to notice unhealthy patterns, you may, indeed, uncover repressed trauma and not a silent wound. In this case, many of the tools that I suggest on this blog still apply, but I also want to encourage you to find additional external support. The more support you can have in healing a repressed trauma that you’ve remembered, the better. The importance of community support and love is never of quite so much import as when someone is dealing with healing a repressed trauma.
The main difference is that something definitively did happen in a trauma as opposed to silent wound, and the body can help you remember the specifics. For more on healing trauma, please read this post.
Learning to Identify Unhealthy Patterns
Hopefully, if you’re reading this post today, you already have worked on the various emotional, physical, and mental wounds that you have suffered and know about. To be sure, most human beings have suffered in one way or another. It’s not a very nice planet in many ways. If you haven’t done much healing yet, I encourage you to read posts on this link about healing to get started.
If you have done quite a bit of healing, you probably have found some of the layers of these silent wounds already. They may hide in the darkness, but their effects on us are pretty profound. One of the key identifiers for a silent wound is fear. Whatever you’re afraid of is a clue to other issues, and the more irrational the fear, the more likely it is a silent wound. For instance, you have a fear of cats for some reason. You’ve never had a bad experience with a cat, but the fear is there all the same. As you really investigate it in yourself, you may remember your mother never allowing you to have a cat and all the ways that she avoided them at other peoples’ houses. Once again, she never said anything bad about cats, but over time, the impact of her actions made a mark. And that taught you that cats were to be feared for some reason.
Yes, this may be a silly example, but the principle applies to many other things. So starting with these irrational and unfounded fears is a way to follow the path deeper towards the source. Of course, you may find some not so silent wounds along the way, so this technique is helpful with all kinds of healing.
Keep a Journal and Look for Patterns
I often recommend journaling because it’s a way to be honest with ourselves, and in re-reading it, you can notice patterns in yourself by what you regularly write about. You may find certain fixations in your writing, and that helps you to further identify these hidden wounds. Silent wounds can often be seen by the repetition in which you think about something. For example, another common hidden wound is the desire for a romantic partner. This one has tons of external reinforcement. People blindly believe they need one, and many people think they aren’t okay if they don’t have one. Once again, nobody may ever have told you that you’re bad for living a bachelor/bachelorette lifestyle, but that lesson may have been learned. This can lead people to get into bad relationships or relationships that they don’t care about just to avoid this wound. Oftentimes, needing a romantic relationship is about avoiding the silent wound of being alone.
And sure, some people genuinely want a romantic partnership. For one person, this belief is wounding. For another, it isn’t. I’ll talk more about this in a moment. But I do want to emphasize that the truest way to be you doesn’t require any belief nor any kind of external relationship. When you rest in the presence and love that you are, whatever relationships that arises or don’t arise is fine. This kind of inner peacefulness is what spiritual freedom is all about.
So when you are journaling, you may notice a fixation or obsession as a hallmark for some silent wounds. You can dig into this obsession by figuring out what you are afraid of not having or of having happen to you. In identifying the silent wound about romantic partnership, you can now start to sit with the feelings of loneliness. You can breathe into them and see how deep they run. Is the fear of loneliness just a belief? Or does it run deeper? This is one way to start healing a silent wound.
The Family Tradition of Silent Wounds
There’s an old saying to “do as I say, not as I do.” This, of course, does not work. The lessons children learn from parents and anyone in their initial upbringing are greatly learned from watching what others do. As I’ve said time and time again, human beings are mimics. We do what we see, and if the people we emulate are wounded in some way, we quickly learn to practice being wounded. That practice tends to lead us to similar situations and pains that our role models have endured. So we, too, tend to get wounded in similar ways.
Furthermore, a lot of relationships are bounded together in mutual pain. People commiserate together about their shared bad luck. It becomes a strange badge of honor, so healing your silent wounds will often mean breaking out of this shared pain. You may find that you have a family or ethnic identity built out of pain. This painbody–as Eckhart Tolle would call it–thrives on the shared identity of pain. Thus, healing a silent wound like this means the end of your current relationships as they are. These people would have to change to accept you as you are, and that would mean that family members and others who share that painbody would have to heal. Most people don’t want to do that, so instead, you may find yourself saying good-bye to those people.
Because family holds such a powerful influence over us, that good-bye may be difficult, and it’ll typically bring up more silent wounds. They can be around the fear of not being able to take care of yourself or the sense of betraying others. There are many wounds that get illuminated whenever anyone does anything with family or their initial caretakers. Nonetheless, your woundedness does not help them. Only by healing yourself can you show others how to heal themselves.
The Repetitious Nature of Silent Wounds
Another aspect of silent wounds to be mindful of is that they are often repetitious. This means that you have had this wound inflicted countless times. We can go back to the idea of a romantic partner because of how common place the idea is. You’ll have had this belief that being alone is bad reinforced from your family, friends, caretakers, media, school acquaintances, co-workers, and many more over YEARS. As I said earlier, there is a tendency to believe something if lots of other people believe it to be true too. There is also a tendency to believe something if we hear it meany times. Thus, the belief in having a romantic partner becomes deeply ingrained, and a lot of your ego will develop around attempts to do whatever it is you think you have to do to get a romantic partner. The more you build your personality on top of a lie, the further you typically get from the truth of who you truly are.
There are plenty of other silent wounds. Some of the worst can be the feeling/belief of not being wanted by the people raising you. Some people spend their entire childhood feeling unwanted, and that too builds certain types of ego identities that then must be healed.
When silent wounding happens so much, it simply becomes part of the background of your life. This can lead to all sorts of self-numbing and avoidance if the issue is particularly bad. And you’ll have to stop the numbing and avoidance if you want to get to work healing the silent wounds.
Breaking Out of Generational Pain
The silent wounds of family are often generational too. This means that ways of doing and believing have gone on for generations. They are deeply embedded in the family unconscious as the way to live. Assuming the family isn’t physically or emotionally abusive, those patterns may help you to survive, but they are unlikely to help you to thrive. Thus, a true aspiration for spiritual freedom will lead you further and further into facing these silent wounds. It’ll influence everything from:
how you make love to another to
how you eat to
how you dress yourself to
how you work to
where you live to
what work you do and to so many other things.
You may find useful traits from your family; hopefully, there will be some healthy tools in there too. But much of the rest is just unconsciousness passed on from generation to generation.
Because something so hidden as generational pain can also seem so common sense to you, outside support is often a must. Other people can see through these issues and help to illuminate how they aren’t healthy for you or are totally insane.
It should also be said that while one belief or way of living works for one person in a family that it may not work for the next person. In this way, some silent wounds can strangely not be a problem for one person while they are for another. I suppose an example might be the emphasis on working with your hands. Perhaps your father was a master craftsman, and he loves it. He thrives in it. But you do not have that same skillset. Thus, the belief that you should be a master craftsman becomes a wound because its just not something that you love or for which you have any kind of aptitude. In a family where there are generations of craftsmen and maybe craftswomen too, the pressure to follow this path can be immense. As such, that can make the silent wounding around being different and not good enough in your family a particularly powerful wound.
Finding External Support
As I mentioned, external support can be key. Spiritual teachers, healers, communities, and more can all be useful as well as co-workers, bosses, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and others. There are plenty of types of support and many different perspectives. Sure, not every perspective will be great, but you may be surprised where you can find wisdom when you look.
Additionally, some of these people will be able to help you address the different wounds. Some wounds heal by noticing them. Others require more action because perhaps you’ve been taking a lot of unhealthy actions. If you want to find a new career outside of working in the trades as a craftsman, then you are likely to need new training and help identifying the work you would love.
The more dysfunctional the family, the more intense the healing and the more powerful the change you’re likely to go through. That too means needing more support because you’ll need to find some examples of healthy people to emulate. While ultimately, the truth of who we naturally arises from within, the more unhealthy someone is, the more they kinda need a temporary identity. This kind of fixer identity arises in a lot of people who have suffered trauma. It can be a pivotal part of the process, but like each rung on a ladder, you only use that rung until you move to the next. Thus, any identity that gets developed to serve as a new way of interacting with life after coming out of a dysfunctional upbringing must eventually be discarded.
Take Time to Heal a Silent Wound
Above all, take time. Identifying silent wounds is hard enough, and healing them can be time-consuming. While we can all drop into the space of oneness within, there is a strong tendency to continue to act out the old behaviors and think the old thought patterns. The physical body and physical brain need to catch up to your awareness, and so that tends to take time and discipline practice.
Even if you have had a spiritual awakening, the tendency to go back to old ways of behaving is strong. The beauty of awakening is that it tends to set off a chain reaction of realizations, and making those realizations integrated spiritual truths in your daily life means taking action from time to time as well as sitting and being still. It’s a balance. Sometimes, healing a silent wound means speaking up if your wounding was around not feeling like it was okay to speak up. Sometimes it may mean being silent and learning to listen if you were taught to shout your opinions. The way to healing is different for each wound, but once you start identifying your silent wounds, you have already taken a big step forward. You are bringing an old pain out into the light so that it can be healed and so that you can no longer suffer needlessly from pains you did not realize you even had.