Dear Wounded Leader: 10 Steps to Overcoming Your Wounds

Dear Wounded Leader,

Have you ever been wounded in your leadership journey?

If so, you’re not alone. I have, too.

I’ve found that if we don’t find a healthy way to heal from our wounds and ultimately overcome them, we’ll stay stuck in the prison of woundedness for the rest of our lives and will never be able to move forward into the future God has for us.

If you’ve been wounded, 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 do not 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.
  • Once you heal, your healed wounds can help others in their woundedness.

So, how do you properly address wounds? Here are a few thoughts:

1.) Acknowledge Your Wounds

Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. -Rick Warren

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 to others. 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.

This is why I encourage everyone to be in a Mastermind group with people who fully know you, fully love you, and can fully challenge you. If you don’t have a group like this, do everything possible to find one!

2.) Go to Therapy

Therapy and counseling are 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 was 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 that I was not enough on one side of the chart.

As I started to write things, I realized that what I wrote wasn’t evidence. They were stories I had been making up in my mind, which I’ll talk about in a moment.

On the other side of the T-chart, he had me write all the evidence I had that I was enough.

It took me a few moments and some prompting to get started, but I filled an entire page once I did.

I realized that I had all the evidence in the world to show me that I was enough.

That revelation was huge for me and helped me heal a significant wound in my life.

Go to therapy. It could change your life.

3.) Ask Yourself What Stories You are Making up in Your Head

I learned this from Brene Brown. She said always to 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 five people in my life whom I cared WAY too much about what they thought of me, and my assumption was that they all thought poorly of me.

I let the stories I was making up about them take up an enormous amount of my energy, thoughts, and beliefs.

Once I had that realization, I scheduled a meeting with each of those five people to seek reconciliation, which I’ll talk about next.

What stories are you making up in your mind?

4.) Seek Reconciliation

Oftentimes, the people who 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 who have wounded you. Ask them for a meeting. Let them know what happened and how they impacted you. See where the conversation goes.

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 specific situations led me to that belief, I shared it with them). I need to let you know so we can discuss this because it has been torturing me.”

Everyone 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 (and 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.

Is there anyone you need to schedule a meeting with this week?

5.) Don’t Judge. Assume the Best about People.

With the stories I was making up, I did not assume the best about people. I judged people. That wasn’t helpful at all.

With very few exceptions, most people are doing their best and have good intentions in everything they do. Good intentions don’t always lead to a good impact, but let’s give people the benefit of the doubt.

If they learn that they caused harm, most people will apologize, repent, and try to get better.

People are human and have blind spots (I have plenty. Don’t you?) Our blind spots often cause harm; 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?

6.) Forgive and Move on

After you have conversations with the people who wounded you, you have to choose 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 necessary to heal our wounds. We’ve been forgiven greatly. Let’s forgive others in the same way.

Once you’ve forgiven, move on. Forgiveness does not mean you’ll forget what happened, but you no longer hold it against someone.

7.) Trust God for Your Future

We often get so wrapped up in how we’ve been impacted by people that we let that override how God has impacted us.

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.

If you let Him heal you, He can bring you into a future you couldn’t have imagined. It will be better than anything you could have hoped for.

Let Him heal you. Trust Him for your next steps.

8.) 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 everywhere you go so you don’t get trapped in your woundedness again.

You may even ask the people in the last season of your life if they have any feedback on how you can grow and develop in the next season of your life. Feedback is often a gift.

9.) Share Your Journey with Others

When we get healed from our woundedness, it’s one of the most freeing experiences we can ever have.

We gain confidence that if we get wounded again, we can heal faster and not have our wounds take so much of our daily energy and capacity away.

Don’t keep your journey to yourself. There are thousands of wounded people around you who could benefit from learning how you overcame your woundedness. Help them!

I certainly hope this post helped you.

10.) Repeat this Process

Anytime you get wounded, go back through this process.

If you’ve been wounded in life or leadership, I am sorry. It is 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.

Thoughts? Comment below!

Don’t quit. Keep leading. The world desperately needs YOUR leadership.

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