Time Heals All Wounds – Or Does It?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Being emotionally wounded can mark a difficult time in a person's life. The uncertainty that comes along with a painful event often leaves one wondering if the ache will ever end. Have you been there?

No doubt, we have all heard the saying, "Time heals all wounds." While this statement may be motivated by good intentions, it's not always an easy concept to grasp. Often, the heartache of the moment weighs so heavily upon us that we cannot see past the pain.

Time may not be enough to heal all wounds

A person who has been wounded can experience many emotions. Depending on the circumstances, one may feel anger, frustration, or sadness. The amount of time it takes to heal depends on the complexity of an individual's experience as well as their use of effective coping mechanisms.

It's okay to feel hurt. It is even okay to feel angry. However, learning to live through the pain of a harmful experience may be beneficial. Specifically, it can help you to reestablish balance in your life. Understanding how to identify your feelings and address the situation may help you begin to heal.

Identifying the source of the wound

Being wounded seems to throw things off kilter. It can leave you feeling like the world is moving in a fast-paced blur while you are frozen in disbelief. It's not uncommon for someone who has been wounded to say, "I just want to feel normal again." Even though being hurt can make you feel lonely, you are not alone.

Emotional responses to being wounded are often complex, and like peeling an onion, they may have to be addressed one layer at a time. Even when a wound is fresh and seems unbearable, you may be able  to begin finding balance.

For some, the source of feeling wounded is obvious. Others, however, may have experienced one or more things over the course of time that left them feeling hurt and wounded. Whether it's a cheating spouse, the loss of a loved one, or another traumatic event, the pain can be significant. You may want to take the time to think about the events in your life that have led you to feel wounded. Identifying the source of the pain may help you as you begin the journey of healing.


The effects of time on healing

When you are in the middle of a painful event, being told to "just give it time" or "time will make it better" may add stress to your already painful feelings. For some, healing comes in stages. Some of those stages take longer than others.

One of the most frustrating things for someone who has been wounded is when others imply that we all fit into a cookie-cutter mold of healing. Everyone responds differently to pain and heartache. The important thing is that you respond. Unresolved pain can lead to difficulties later and may worsen over time.

When you experience an event that wounds you, the idea that you can one day move past the pain or sadness is a hopeful thought. Wanting to feel normal again is natural. While time may not necessarily heal all wounds, it does give you an opportunity to process your feelings. With time, the perception of pain can be altered. This shift is an important part of healing.

Just how much time does it take to begin feeling better? There is no exact answer to this question and no formula to determine how long you may feel this way. We all process thoughts and feelings differently.

Why does it hurt so much?

If you have ever been wounded by a person or event, you may have wondered why it was so painful. Human beings are emotional creatures. Almost everything we do is connected to our emotions. In some cases, the pain could be caused by the memory of a time with a lost loved one. For instance, the aroma of a pie baking in the oven may cause us to remember a time enjoyed together. Anything related to a meaningful experience is something that can spark emotion within us.

When we are hurt, our emotions seem to be on "high alert." To begin healing, it's necessary to think about the situation and why it may be causing so much pain.

Consider these questions:

  • Was the cause of your wound something foreseeable? If you have experienced something that has left you wounded and you think you could have prevented it, the pain you are experiencing could be coupled with guilt. It's important to remind yourself that whatever happened, you cannot change the past. Don't live in it and blame yourself. Healing begins by acknowledging what happened and letting go. 
  • Is the person (or situation) who caused your wound still present in your life? Relationships that have caused you pain, particularly if they are not mended or ended, can have an emotional effect much like that of a festering sore. In these cases, it can be helpful to identify and address the source of the wound.If your spouse or significant other has said or done something to hurt you, ignoring it does not usually make the pain go away. Talking out the situation and discussing your feelings may help you determine if this is something you can recover from, or if you need to end the relationship. Either way, it’s important that you heal and move on to a healthier life.
  • Have youlost a person close to you? One of the most painful wounds is the wound that death leaves behind. Whether the death was sudden or the result of a long-term illness, it doesn't change the feeling of loss. Healing this particular wound is often difficult because the lost loved one cannot be replaced.

Can online therapy help me heal?

While healing of any kind does take time, sometimes the process may require more than just patiently waiting. If you have experienced a wound or traumatic event, it’s okay to reach out for help. You may find that reaching out to others opens the floodgates of emotion and allows healing to flow in.

Getty/Luis Alvarez
Time may not be enough to heal all wounds

Many people find it difficult to let go of the source of their trauma or pain. For some, it is a reminder of things lost. They might feel that letting go of the pain will make what they lost fade or seem to have never existed. If you feel overwhelmed by painful emotions, seeking the help of a mental health professional could be beneficial. Your family doctor can offer recommendations and/or referrals if needed.

If you feel too overwhelmed to leave the house to address your emotional wounds, online counseling is an option. With internet-based therapy platforms like BetterHelp, you can talk with a mental health professional from the comfort of your home. 

Research with a veteran population has shown that individual and group therapy via videoconferencing reduced symptoms to an extent comparable to traditional therapy. Online therapy can also help with other related conditions such as insomnia and anxiety. BetterHelp offers an opportunity to connect with licensed mental health professionals who can help you navigate through the pain of your wound, so you can move forward in your life.

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Does time heal all wounds? Sometimes, but not always. One thing that is certain is that with the proper help and encouragement, healing can begin. Whether you are experiencing the loss of a relationship, the death of a loved one, or another traumatic event, taking the time to heal is important. Also, seeking the right help for you can make a difference in your journey to well-being. Take the first step today.
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