15 November 2018Last updated


Does time really heal all wounds?

Rather than letting our pain be numbed by the passing years, we need to address it for our kids’ sake, says Dr Saliha Afridi

Dr Saliha Afridi
4 Nov 2015 | 12:00 am
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WHEN YOU LOOK AT YOUR CHILD DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?  I’m not talking about the same eye or hair colour, I mean do you see your behaviour and emotional habits?

As well as passing on our DNA, we as parents are handing down our personality to our children.
In the main, it’s a wonderful thing to see our child mimic our sense of humour, confidence or caring nature. But the painful truth is that they are also inheriting our fears and insecurities.

I had a moment of clarity a few years ago when my daughter would say every Sunday before school that she had a stomach ache. Every time we met new people she became nervous. In fact, whenever the winds of change blew, she hid behind the nearest tree or under the bed. I also noticed she was becoming fiercely independent and self-reliant, and the kind of person who gives in abundance but refuses to ask for help. The kind of person that was, well, me.

I realised I had passed on my anxiety about change and the unknown to her. I don’t know how or when it happened, but it did.

I am not alone. It’s very common to pass our insecurities on to our children – subliminally and unintentionally – who then experience the feelings as their own.

How many of us find ourselves overreacting to things or running to the nearest source of comfort or validation? Why do we do it? Because we are still affected by deep wounds from our childhood that influence the way we see the world and manage our relationships. Without addressing whatever unhealthy coping skills, insecurities or other issues we have carried around since a young age, we will pass these same traits down to our children. 
It could be that you are still feeling the shame of that first heartbreak, the pain of losing an aunt at 10, the anxiety of a difficult adolescence, or the fear of not being able to find your parents in the mall when you were six. Or perhaps you are dealing with body image insecurities that have been passed down through the generations, from your grandmother to your mother and to you?

Although they say that ‘time heals all wounds’, time is just a bandage to numb the pain. To break the cycle and stop passing on insecurities, we need to heal properly. Simply accepting that you have emotional issues is half the battle won. The other half is confronting them. It’s a painful process to clean out an old wound – you’ll need courage to remove the bandages of time, denial, and compartmentalisation, and strength to offer compassion and forgiveness to those who hurt you.

It feels so much easier to bandage up the wounds once again and numb their pain with the distractions of work and daily tasks for at least another decade or two. But that’s the very time to look at your child and remind yourself of why you are doing this. I would do anything to help my children, and if that means leaping into the past and drowning myself in sorrow, then so be it.

Instead of waiting for ‘time to heal’, you need to ‘make time to heal’. Do this for yourself and for your future generations – and let the pain and emotional suffering stop right here.

Dr Saliha Afridi

Dr Saliha Afridi

is a clinical psychologist and director of The LightHouse Arabia. Tel 04 380 9298.