How our wounds make us human
No, I’m not about to romanticise pain. Wounds hurt, and nobody likes them, including me. But they do make us human, and I want to explain how in this post.
You know the saying: “Everyone’s got a little bit of madness”? I don’t really like it (and if you know or follow me at all, you can already guess why: because it trivialises mental illness). But even I have to admit it’s got an element of truth to it.
And that truth is this: none of us is entirely okay, and occasionally, our (made-up word alert) not-okayness shows up, which is what that saying refers to as “madness.”
But it’s not something we generally like to talk about. In fact, you might be countering what I’m saying even as I speak. You might even be offended that I’m suggesting that you’re not okay. How dare I say that when you’re living such a great life and everyone loves you?
(Of which, if everyone really does love you, I need to have some of what you’re smoking. Wait, is it legal?)
Why would I say you’re not okay?
Well just so we’re clear: I’m not okay either. Nobody is. And on one hand, that’s not a bad thing in itself. It’s called being human. We’re flawed, we’re imperfect, we experience suffering. But on the other hand, even though it’s often referenced in songs and stories in sort of a romantic way, in reality our un-okayness is at the root of why we hurt, and why we hurt each other. And the fact that we’re all that way doesn’t make it hurt any less.
Nearly everyone, you see, has been wounded in some way. No one wants to be, of course, but it’s life. Just like a child can hardly grow up without physical injuries, it’s practically impossible to be human for any length of time without emotional injuries of some kind.
The problem isn’t really the wounds themselves, though.
So if the wounds aren’t the problem, what is?
Well, the problem is this: lots of people are still walking around with wounds sustained years, even decades, ago.
Allow me to illustrate from one of my favourite shows of all time…
Lost was a hugely popular TV series chronicling the adventures of a bunch of people whose plane crashed on a remote island. (Many people I know didn’t like it, but that’s another story.) I totally loved it though, and what I loved most was the way the writers used flashbacks to reveal character. Again and again, what initially appeared irrational behaviour would suddenly became very relatable, in the light of the character’s history. And many times, that history depicted wounds that they had suffered in their past.
The whole thing perfectly captured the old saying, “To understand everything is to forgive everything.” (Even if it was only us viewers doing the forgiving.)
To put that differently…
Understanding a person’s wounds is the beginning of really understanding them. (click below to tweet that!)
And that’s what I mean when I say, as in the title of this post, that our wounds make us human: you can’t really know a person until you appreciate where they hurt. (You also see the import of the proverb that you can’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, right?)
Whether you know it or not, our experiences mark us in more ways than we often take into account.
Because, that’s what causes wounds: experiences.
But with all this talk about wounds, simple as it sounds, it’s important we’re on the same page, so I really should offer a clear definition: what exactly do I mean by “wound?”
Of course, you know I’m referring to emotional wounds, and not at all to physical wounds, although I’ll be using the physical kind to explain the concept.
So here’s how I define it: just like a physical wound is the breakage in your skin caused by an injury, think of an emotional wound as the breakage in your image of yourself or of life, caused by a negative experience.
I really hope it does, because that definition is key to everything in the coming posts. Be sure to look out for the next one!
For now, share in the comments: what wounds have you experienced?
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