Last month I cut a huge gash of flesh out of my thumb.
A cut medically known as an avulsion. Not really even a cut or a gash. Basically, the removal of a chunk of flesh.
After a visit to the ER, where the doctor told me there wasn’t much he could do—after all, there was nothing to stitch up—I had no choice but to give it time to heal.
For several days I wore a large gauze bandage around my thumb. And, I discovered I pretty much couldn’t do anything that required the use of my right hand. I fumbled through for a few days, and as the doctor instructed, as soon as the injury began to heal, I removed the bandages and let it breathe.
For the next week or so I felt as if I was giving everyone I encountered a thumbs-up sign.
In an effort to protect my injured and exposed thumb, I walked around with my arm bent at the elbow, my fingers curled inward, and my thumb pointing up. And I learned to do quite a few things, like tie my shoes and zipper my pants, without using my thumb.
Surprisingly, as deep as the gash was—I expected my thumb would forever be flat on one side—it healed almost completely within a few weeks. Well, at least the skin healed. While it still hurts when I put pressure on it or bump it, all that remains on the surface is a red scar. The skin grew back completely. And no, my thumb is not flat on one side. It looks normal except for the scar.
This was a great lesson for me.
I realized how quickly our body can heal itself. How good it is at regenerating after we hurt or damage it. And I couldn’t help but contrast the speed of this recovery to the often slow healing of mental injuries.
When we make a mistake, fail at something, or are emotionally hurt, we often hold onto those wounds for years.
If our body is so good, and fast, at recovery, why can’t our mind be, too?
This experience has provided me a great example of how we hold ourselves back and stay stalled in our state of victimhood. We are doing it to ourselves. Left up to the biology of our body, we’d be moving on from the injury quickly. However, because we have the ability to think about this type of healing, and it doesn’t just happen automatically as it did with my thumb, we are actually making a choice not to heal. To hold onto the pain. Perhaps as an excuse for not being all we can be. Maybe as a justification for our inability to succeed. Possibly for the sympathy it generates from others. Or maybe because it’s just easier than confronting the issue or doing the hard work to overcome it.
Regardless of the reason, we are making a choice to hold onto the injury. We are choosing not to heal.
I’m not saying emotional or mental healing isn’t hard.
I’m saying it’s a choice. A choice to confront, or not confront the demons and battle them. A choice to get, or not get help if we can’t do it on our own. A choice to let them rule our life, or to let them go. A choice to take back control so we can experience the happiness and success we desire and deserve, or to continue to be at their mercy.
As for my thumb, I had no choice whether or not it would heal. My body did that all on its own. And while the lingering pain may be there for months—I cut into quite a few nerves and that internal recovery takes longer—it is not holding me back. It’s simply a reminder of what happened, and that I need to be more careful when slicing vegetables in the future.