If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “time heals all wounds”, I’d be a millionaire. This phrase seems to be a go to favorite in our culture for offering comfort and hope to those around us. But to be honest, I think this phrase is one of the most harmful phrases to throw around, and it’s at the root of so much pain, shame, and guilt.
Today, I’m talking about why the phrase “time heals all wounds” phrase is totally false. Plus, I’m sharing the phrase that is way more helpful for you and your loved ones. Click play, and let’s do this!
“Time heals all wounds.” I don’t know who first said this phrase, but I can’t imagine they’d ever experienced true pain or struggle. Because if they had, they’d know that time alone is not enough. Time doesn’t heal deep pain and sorrow. A ticking clock doesn’t fade grief and loss. Passing weeks aren’t the key to true healing.
While we often use this phrase as a way to offer hope and encouragement to others, it ends up doing the exact opposite. “Time heals all wounds” oversimplifies the healing process. It makes it sound neat, tidy, and simple. But the healing process isn’t simple. Not at all. So when time doesn’t heal your wound, you’re left feeling confused, hurt, and helpless.
So I want to offer you this alternative instead. “Time plus work helps heal wounds.” Read that again. Time plus work helps heal wounds. I know, it’s not as simple or catchy, but it’s more realistic. And it’s way more helpful.
Imagine that you break your arm. One option is to just leave it alone. Let time pass; let your arm heal on it’s own. Now I’m no orthopedic surgeon, but my guess is, that while time might allow for some sort of wonky setting or healing, it probably won’t be great. But a combination of time plus physical therapy? Now that’s going to get you little farther.
To get maximum functioning back in your arm, to have deep healing take place, it’s going to require more than just time. You’re going to have to put in some physical work to aid in the healing process. And when we’re talking about mental, emotional, and relational wounds, work can take so many different forms. It can be communication, therapy, mindfulness training, self-compassion, assertiveness, empathy, self-discovery. There are so many different ways to put in this work.
It’s also important to note that there’s usually a moderate amount of discomfort involved in this work. When we’re talking about wounds, it often gets a little bit worse before it gets better. Because discomfort and growth go hand in hand. So while this work isn’t always comfortable or pleasant, it’s both important and necessary for healing.
It’s not all about time. It’s about the combination of time plus work. Yet even with this combination, healing doesn’t always mean returning to 100 percent. Some wounds are so deep, they can’t be fully healed. They can’t be wrapped up with a bow. Some wounds will leave scars. Some wounds will leave you with limited mobility. And while that’s not fair or pleasant, that’s part of being a human. So while that may not seem comforting to acknowledge, it’s honest and real. And that is one of the most important things when it comes to healing.
Buying into the idea that time heals all wounds sets up totally unrealistic expectations for yourself and your healing. Yes, be patient with yourself. Allow yourself some time. But also challenge yourself to put in the work you need to heal. It’s not always comfortable or pleasant, but it’s important. And you deserve it.
So let’s do better when we talk about healing. Let’s be honest about the process. Let’s be open about our wounds and intentional about how we tend to them.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. But time plus work? That helps heal wounds.
PS: Wondering how to comfort someone who’s struggling? Try this simple formula; it’ll help out big time.