We know what physical wounds are. If you fall down and scrape your knee, that’s a physical wound. Accidentally straining a muscle while lifting something heavy, that’s a different type of physical wound. It’s also easy to think about what a mental/emotional wound would be. That’s if someone hurts us emotionally.

But what is a spiritual wound?

According to the national PTSD center, moral injury is the distressing psychological, behavioral, social, and sometimes spiritual aftermath of exposure to such events. These could be events that someone participated in, such as a member of the military, or events that were witnessed, such as witnessing a robbery. And I feel that to some extent spiritual wounds overlap with this. However, to me, a spiritual wound can have many causes. Working at a job where you are not doing tasks in the best interests or aligned with your own moral or ethical values, or working at a job that doesn’t value you as a person and takes advantage of you can cause a spiritual injury. Experiencing microagressions as a member of a margionalized group can cause a spiritual injury. Living in poverty, or under systemic socioeconomic abuse, can also cause spiritual injuries.

A spiritual injury is anything that causes you to question your value, worth, or place in the world. Some refer to this as the dark night of the soul, though in some cases it won’t manifest as utter despair and depression. Instead, there’s an acceptance, an understanding that this is all there is and things won’t get any better. When you’ve lost hope, you’ve most likely experienced a spiritual injury.

Many business media outlets have started talking about moral injury (or spiritual injury, though they phrase it as moral injury) as a driver for the “Great Resignation”. (See this FastCompany article here.) And for those with the privledge to change jobs, being able to do so is a great way to start healing. However, we mustn’t judge someone who cannot change jobs. There are many factors, including health and disability status, childcare, benefits (in the US) and other reasons why someone may not be able to quit a job that’s causing spiritual injury.

In these cases, especially, it’s important to look at healing the spiritual injury, of regaining that sense of self and identity, of finding some bit of hope again.

I’m curious if you’ve ever felt as if you’ve experienced a spiritual injury. If you feel comfortable sharing, leave a comment.