Have you ever witnessed a hurting friend classify themselves as 'Damaged Goods' or a 'Wounded Soul'? At first glance, these descriptors may seem accurate based on hardships they have experienced in the past. In fact, these idioms are so common, it is easy to overlook the glaring error masked in the descriptions themselves. What often goes unrecognized is the person just used their pain to describe their whole personhood. It's as if they said something like, "I am a wound".
Wounded People and Faulty Beliefs
As a Counselor, my heart hurts for someone that has been damaged, and I want to validate their feelings and experiences. It is important for them to feel heard, understood, and cared for with unconditional regard. However, deeply wounded people also need help recognizing faulty belief systems that may have developed from traumatic events and relationships. 'Wounded Souls' often put up inner walls because they believe they are unworthy to be known, and others can't be trusted. 'Damaged Goods' may believe they aren't good enough to be around 'normal' or happy people, so they seek attention and affection in unhealthy relationships. Ultimately, being vulnerable or my true self isn't worth it because that will just result in more pain.
Wounded Or Whole?
As I meet with someone with emotional trauma, my hope is that they will stop seeing themselves as a 'wounded person', and start seeing themselves as a person that has been wounded. The former view says their identity is wrapped up in a wound, the latter says I am a whole person that happens to have deep wounds. Furthermore, their personhood is uniquely designed by God, and He has given them immeasurable worth that no person or pain can permanently diminish. With the right help and by making healthier choices, the damage will heal, and 'the goods' can be restored by God's grace.
Alex White is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Christian Counseling Associates. He is taking new clients online.