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19 Signs of Emotional Damage and Ways to Get Past Them

emotional damage

Everyone is emotionally damaged to some degree, but if this list describes most of your life, then you may have a bigger problem on your hands.

I think we’ve all been through tough times in our lives that leave us feeling scorned. Whether it was a breakup, just a generally bad experience, or maybe an event you didn’t even realize was traumatic in the moment, our everyday lives can leave us emotionally drained and damaged.

While everyone has something that keeps them from living their life exactly the way they want, some of us might have a harder time than others. The consistent nagging of something in our past lives can put a damper on the good things happening right in front of us.

I know how it feels. Getting lost in a tub of ice cream while mascara stains your face, and not always knowing the reason why you seem to fail at every relationship—or even friendship—that has found its way into your life.

How to tell if you’re emotionally damaged

If you’re wondering why you can never be fully at ease or happy in any of your relationships, it could have something to do with the fact you’ve been hurt, scarring you in a way that has affected those aspects of your life.

You may be clueless as to how you’re emotionally damaged. But these are the best ways you can tell if you’re emotionally damaged and how you can try and move forward from the pain.

#1 Someone lost your trust in a big way. Somewhere along the way, whether it was your boyfriend/girlfriend, a close friend, or even a family member, someone took your trust and crushed it like your finished beer can. This makes it even harder for you to let people in and trust them—resulting in your emotional damage.

#2 You find yourself comparing your new love interest to the person who wronged you. A sign you’re emotionally damaged is comparing someone new you’re seeing with an ex that may have done you wrong. Their actions left a pit in you, translating to new potential lovers.

#3 You keep people at arm’s length. Much like you don’t trust people, you also don’t let people get to know you. This sign of emotional damage stems from someone using personal habits, quirks, or bits of your personality and hurting you with it. AKA: bullying.

#4 You constantly compare yourself to others. Having a low self-esteem and comparing yourself to other people is a surefire way to tell if you’re emotionally damaged. Someone once made you feel inadequate and now you can’t stop the reoccurring thought you’re not good enough, and you just don’t measure up. [Read: Build your self esteem – 35 funny questions to ask yourself]

#5 Anger creeps into you over almost nothing. One of the side effects of being emotionally damaged is you’re always on edge; meaning you get angered very quickly over the littlest things. This is because, subconsciously, you feel so defensive and feel the need to protect yourself from further damage.

#6 Anxiety is often present when meeting new people. If meeting new people—whether they would be just friends, acquaintances, or a potential lover—puts you in full-on panic mode, you can tell. You just don’t know if you can go through with meeting new people and risk being put through any kind of pain again.

#7 You had a traumatic breakup. Chances are if you’ve had a traumatic breakup of any kind ever, you’re going to be emotionally damaged. Breakups hurt and that pain has a way of leaving scars. No matter how the breakup happened, if it was a bad one then you’re definitely emotionally damaged in some form or another. [Read: How your self respect affects you and the relationships you have]

#8 You were hurt horribly for a very long time. Speaking of breakups, if you were hurt after that or any other life event that left you in pieces under your bed’s comforter for weeks on end, there is emotional damage. No matter where the pain came from, the fact it was there for so long will leave an imprint.

#9 Your friends tell you that you have issues. Other people can see the problems more than you can. If your friends are telling you that you have problems when it comes to getting close to people or in social situations, chances are that you really do.

#10 You’re depressed. Depression can sometimes be genetic, but it can also be caused by other issues in your life. If you’ve never been depressed before and are suddenly feeling that way, it’s a sign of emotional damage.

#11 You feel better off alone. Nobody is better off alone. The great thing about being a human is we crave other human interaction. If you’re feeling like you don’t need anybody or that you’re better off not being involved with anyone for your own good, it’s a subtle sign of being emotionally damaged. [Read: Abandonment issues and how it affects your relationships]

#12 You’ve abused substances. Substance abuse of any kind is always an indicator of something wrong psychologically. If you find yourself looking to alcohol or other substances to numb some pain or make things easier for you, you are emotionally damaged.

Getting past emotional damage

Much like it’s nearly impossible to remove scarring after a physically traumatic event, it’s almost the same for emotional damage. You’re left with scars that are more than just skin deep, and it takes time and effort to mend them—notice I didn’t say *heal* because they will never be 100% improved.

Here are a few ways you can work past the emotional damage and have a fresh start.

#1 Spend time working on yourself. Go to the gym, get your hair done, buy yourself some new sneakers, do SOMETHING that will give your mood and self-esteem a boost. Spending time focusing on bettering yourself will help you get over that pain. [Read: 12 powerful steps to change your life and find your happiness overnight]

#2 Talk to someone. One way to heal those emotional scars is to talk to someone about it. Letting out those feelings and some of the pain by talking to someone you trust is a good way to start moving beyond your heartache.

#3 Know you’re not alone. When someone is emotionally damaged, it can seem like they’re the only person going through that pain. The truth is many people have problems with certain aspects of their emotions, and you’re not the only one feeling the pain. That thought can help ease some anxiety.

#4 Try to keep the past where it should be—in the past. I know it’s not exactly your fault when you start getting angry at new people for past people’s wrongdoings. However, try to keep what happened in the past in the past.

#5 Avoid drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and drug use seems to accompany emotional damage with some people. If you’re feeling any of the above signs of emotional damage, stay away from these until you’re feeling well enough to handle it.

#6 Don’t play the blame game. Sometimes you’ll want to stick blame on someone for your pain. And while it may be their fault, blaming them for so long will only prolong the damage and make it harder to heal. Forgive.

#7 Realize it takes time. You won’t feel better overnight. That’s a fact. It will take months, and even years, to feel back to normal, and even then, the pain doesn’t go away completely. But that emotional damage is what makes you who you are and that’s something you should never want to change completely.

[Read: 13 happy things you need for a perfectly happy life]

Being emotionally damaged is NOT a bad thing. It just means you’ve been through a little more than other people in your life and can still come out strong. This is how to know if you fall under that category.

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Bella Pope
Bella Pope
Bella is a lifestyle writer, cheese enthusiast (Wisconsin native over here) and fantasy adventure author-in-progress who enjoys all things love, dog, p...

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3 thoughts on “19 Signs of Emotional Damage and Ways to Get Past Them”

  1. dam says:

    I’m a damaged guy if you go by monumentally shitty upbringing. It depends, plenty of men and women are damaged and you wouldn’t know it. We assume back stories about people due to what’s visible and how it effected them. Some people use it to motivate themselves to never quit, to work hard, to make the rest of their life amazing, others end up abusing substances and let it wreck their whole lives and everything in between. I’ve oddly enough never dated a “damaged” girl and have had to adjust to dating women who’ve had wonderful families. Just thought I’d give my two cents as a damaged person even if it’s a bit off topic.

  2. Break up says:

    My current boyfriend has a rough past – in and out of jail, been shot, stabbed, etc… he has a lot of emotional issues from a very turbulent life – molestation at a young age, unsupportive parents who sent him away to live with other family when he started getting into drugs and crime, a marriage he was pressured into by his religious family to a girl he got pregnant in high school at much too young an age, all preceding a future filled with drugs, dealing, theft, fighting, and general antisocial behavior. I fell for his charm, humour and handsomeness, though I could see from the tattoos on his neck and scars on his knuckles that he was a rough one. Our relationship in the beginning was passionate and wonderful as we discovered all the new things about each other, but the longer we are together the more I realize the difference in our values, ideals and attitudes. I have always seen the potential in him and wanted to help him find it – he is emotionally stunted and immature. I broke up with him once… he took a bunch of percocets and said he wanted to be dead. Called me a cunt, told me to choke on an antidepressant pill, said he was going to tell his daughter I was dead. He said the most horrible things to me that I cant get past it, even though I agreed to give us a second chance because he’s out of town for 3 weeks and I don’t want to worry about him killing himself. I told him when he gets back we will try to work through it. But I don’t want to do it anymore. I can’t love someone after they said such abusive things to me. How do I break up with him? I want to go work in another province so maybe telling him that I am moving away, instead of breaking up with him, will be better. He’ll still be hurt but maybe wont take it as personally. He seems to have nothing to live for other than me and I hate it.

  3. pretty young thing says:

    About a month ago I wrote an e-mail to my ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend entailing everything that has happened since she cheated on him last summer. Long story short, she cheated on him and continued to cheat on me with other guys. She planned on getting back with him and “confessing” everything she did to him but I didn’t think it was fair to anyone. It wasn’t fair to me and it definitely wasn’t fair to her ex-boyfriend. She told me that if she wasn’t going to tell him sooner she was going to confess everything the day before they got married. Good idea? I think not. After she found out I sent the e-mails, her life has been a mess. She claims she no longer has a purpose and her family is worried about her health. I have apparently caused her and her family so much grief that both my ex-girlfriend and her mother will most likely go to therapy. In addition to the e-mails, I have also sued her because she also owes me money. She promised me the money but she provided no method of how and when she was going to pay it back. I tried talking about it with her prior to the lawsuit but her and her family refused to talk to me due to high stress. My friend served her the papers in between her classes so she is also blaming me for serving her at an inconvenient time. Her entire family is basically going to sue me for the emotional damage I have caused to them and their daughter. In my defense, I didn’t make their daughter a cheater. She did this to herself and the worse part about all this is that the mother also feels I’m somewhat accountable for all of this. I understand it’s her mother and she has to be supportive but I just need to know if I’m not insane for not agreeing with them…

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