Dear Wounded Leader,
Last week I wrote a post on how to get through tough seasons of transition. As I was reflecting on the conversations I’ve had with leaders about transition, I’ve also noticed that on the other side of transition, there are often deep wounds that develop inside of us. If we don’t learn how to properly address these wounds, we will never be able to move forward into the future that God has for us.If we don’t learn how to properly address these wounds, we will never be able to move forward into the future that God has for us. Click To Tweet
Have you been wounded? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. I see you and here is what I want you to know:
- Your future is not over.
- You are not who other people have said that you are.
- You don’t have to carry the pain that comes with your wounds with you everywhere you go for the rest of your life.
- Your wounds can be healed.
- Your wounds can become a part of your testimony.
- Your wounds can help others in their woundedness.
How do you properly address wounds? Here are a few thoughts:
Acknowledge Your Wounds
This seems basic, but you’d be surprised how many people try to mask their wounds. That is a huge mistake.
The first step to healing your wounds is acknowledging them. I would encourage you to start by journaling. Write down your experience. Write down your thoughts. Get to the root of the wound. What caused it? Who caused it? How is it impacting your life?
Once you’re done journaling, share what you wrote in your journal with somebody you trust.
Go to Therapy
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, counseling is for the strong, not for the weak. My therapist has been extremely helpful in addressing my wounds. Through therapy, I discovered that the root of all of my wounds was the core belief that I am not enough.
Once we discovered that, my therapist had me do an exercise. He had me draw a T chart on a sheet of paper. He said to write down all the specific evidence I had in my life that I am enough on one side of the chart. It took me a few moments and some prompting to get started, but once I did, I filled an entire page.
He then told me to write on the other side of the chart all of the specific evidence I had that I wasn’t enough. As I started to write things, I realized that what I was writing wasn’t actual evidence. They were stories that I had been making up in my mind which I’ll talk about in a moment. That revelation was huge for me and healed a significant wound in my life.
Go to therapy. It could change your life.Go to therapy. It could change your life. Click To Tweet
Ask Yourself What Stories You are Making up in Your Head
I learned this from Brene Brown. She said to always ask yourself, “What stories am I making up in my mind?” We often make up the worst stories imaginable and the majority of the time they are very far from reality.
For me, I would live in other people’s heads constantly. All I would think about was, “What does that person think of me? I bet they think this (something horrible about me that would ultimately prove that I am not enough) because of this or that.”
What I came to realize as I asked myself about the stories I made up was that there were 5 people in my life who I cared WAY too much about what they thought of me and my assumption was that they all thought poorly of me. I realized that I let these stories take up an enormous amount of my energy, thoughts, and beliefs.
Once I had that realization, I scheduled a meeting with each of those 5 people to seek reconciliation, which I’ll talk about next.
What stories are you making up in your mind?What stories are you making up in your mind?Click To Tweet
Oftentimes the people that wounded us are not even aware they wounded us, and yet we allow them to take up an enormous amount of our daily capacity. I would encourage you to seek reconciliation with the people that have wounded you. Ask them for a meeting. Let them know what happened and how they impacted you. See where the conversation goes.
For me, I sat down with each of the five people and said, “Listen, I’ve put you on a pedestal in my life and I care way too much about what you think of me. I’m constantly making up stories in my head that you think of the worst of me. (If there were specific situations that led me to that belief, I shared it with them). I need to let you know this so we can have a conversation about this because it has been torturing me.”
Every single person I met laughed at the fact that I thought they thought negatively of me. They thought the complete opposite. There were a few things that they did apologize for, they certainly didn’t mean to impact me the way they did and if they had known (if I would have addressed it in the first place), they would have apologized then and made it right.
I can’t promise that every conversation you have will end the way mine did, but I can tell you that by not confronting your wounds with those who have wounded you, you’ll be paralyzed by making stories up in your mind for the rest of your life. Those conversations could lead to healing.
Don’t Judge. Assume the Best about People.
With the stories I was making up in my mind, I did not assume the best about people. In fact, I judged people. That wasn’t helpful at all. The Bible is very clear that we should not judge unless we want to be judged.
With very few exceptions, most people are doing the best that they can and have good intentions in everything that they do. Good intentions don’t always lead to a good impact, but let’s give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people, if they learned that they caused harm, will apologize, repent, and try to get better.
People are human and have blind spots (I have plenty. Do you?) Our blind spots often cause harm and unless someone makes us aware of them, they’ll continue to harm people.
Learn to have the courage to address other people’s blind spots. It could be the best thing that ever happened to them in their leadership journey.
Lastly, you have no idea what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes. They could have been going through the toughest battle of their lives when they wounded you.
Let’s stop judging. Let’s assume the best. Don’t you want people to do the same for you?Let’s stop judging. Let’s assume the best. Don’t you want people to do the same for you?Click To Tweet
Forgive and Move on
After you have conversations with the people who wounded you, you have to make the choice to forgive them (even if they don’t apologize.) It’s the only way you can move forward.
Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s a necessary step in healing our wounds. We’ve been forgiven greatly. Let’s forgive others in the same way.We’ve been forgiven greatly. Let’s forgive others in the same way. Click To Tweet
Once you’ve forgiven, move on. Forgiveness does not mean you’ll forget what happened, it does mean you no longer hold something against someone and you don’t let it impact it the way it did. If it comes up in your mind, you let it go and trust God with it.
Trust God for Your Future
At the end of the day, all that matters in life is what God thinks about you.
We get so wrapped up in how we’ve been impacted by people that we let that override how we’ve been impacted by God. God is God. He’s WAY bigger than the people who wounded you. Trust Him for healing. Trust Him for your future. Cast your burdens on Him because He truly does care for you.
Learn the Lessons You Need to Learn
There are always lessons to be learned when we’re healing from our wounds. Whatever you learn, take those lessons with you everywhere you go so you don’t get trapped in your woundedness again.
Share Your Journey with Others
When our wounds heal, it’s one of the most freeing experiences we can ever have. We learn to gain confidence that if we get wounded again, we can heal faster and not have our wounds take so much of our daily capacity away.
Don’t keep your journey to yourself. There are thousands of wounded people around you that could benefit from learning how you overcame your woundedness. Help them!
I certainly hope this post helped you.
Repeat this Process
Anytime you experience getting wounded, go back through this process.
If you’ve been wounded in life or leadership, I am sorry. It’s not fun, but it does not have to cripple you. You can heal and move on into a future you never dreamed of. Be courageous. Face your wounds. Deal with them. You won’t regret it.
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