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The saying “time heals all wounds” suggests that with the simple passage of time, all emotional and even physical pain will eventually fade away. It’s a comforting sentiment, a light at the end of a dark tunnel when we’re consumed by hurt. But is it always accurate? Let’s dive into the nuances of this age-old proverb.

When Time Does Facilitate Healing

There’s some truth to the idea that time plays a role in healing. Here’s why:

  • Perspective Shifts: When we’re in the midst of suffering, our focus narrows. As time passes, we gain distance, seeing the larger picture of our lives. What once seemed all-consuming can diminish in intensity.
  • Biological Adaptation: Our bodies and brains have remarkable resilience. The initial shock and flood of stress hormones following a traumatic event lessen over time. This biological calming allows space for healing to begin.
  • New Experiences: Life continues to unfold. New experiences, both positive and challenging, reshape our priorities and offer opportunities for growth. Time allows us to build a life beyond a singular painful event.

When Time Alone Isn’t Enough

It’s important to remember that time isn’t a magic eraser. Some wounds run very deep, leaving scars that never fully disappear. Here’s when the proverb falls short:

  • Unprocessed Trauma: If deep emotional wounds are ignored or buried, they can fester and resurface in harmful ways. Unresolved grief, suppressed anger, or untreated PTSD require active intervention.
  • Lack of Support: Healing is often a communal process. If we isolate ourselves during pain, the lack of support can hinder recovery. Time alone won’t fix the loneliness or lack of resources that can compound suffering.
  • Complicated Circumstances: If the source of pain is ongoing, such as an abusive relationship or a chronic illness, time in itself isn’t a solution. Safety and active steps towards change are paramount.

When Using This Proverb Can Be Harmful

While often well-intentioned, the phrase “time heals all wounds” can be dismissive when shared at the wrong moment. For someone in the raw phases of grief or trauma, it can feel like their pain is being minimized. Instead, offering support and presence without trying to “fix” their experience might be more helpful.

A More Accurate View of Healing

Rather than viewing healing as a passive process solely dependent on time, it’s more helpful to see it as active. Healing frequently requires:

  • Acknowledging Pain: Trying to push emotions away prolongs the hurt. Allowing space to feel grief, anger, or disappointment is a vital first step.
  • Seeking Support: This could mean therapy, support groups, or leaning on trusted loved ones. Processing pain in community aids recovery.
  • Self-Care: Prioritizing sleep, movement, healthy eating, and mindfulness practices supports our bodies and minds during difficult times.

The Bottom Line

Time plays a role in the healing process, but it’s rarely the sole solution. Remember, scars are part of our stories. They don’t define us, but they shape us. True healing is about learning to live with those scars, integrating our past experiences into who we are, without letting them dictate our future.


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<a href="https://englishpluspodcast.com/author/dannyballanowner/" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan


Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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