The Key for Overcoming Core Wounds is to Know and Accept the Stories Informing a Core Wound. Once Felt and Acknowledge you and not the Pain of the Wound can Write the Rest of the Story you are Living
Adults with parts trapped in the earlier stages of human development due to events experienced as traumatic in childhood remain children in these areas. They lack the internal resources and modelling necessary to progress in helping themselves and others in reciprocally healthy ways as adults. This is through no fault of their own, yet it is their responsibility as adults to address it. Adults need to experience receiving what’s required to undo the damage resulting from never having their core needs met as children. For the harm done during the initial stages of human development does not and cannot simply disappear on its own. It's unable to resolve itself.
In childhood, unhealed core wounds can negatively impact the developing self’s attachment style; confidence and capacity to tolerate and process the full spectrum of emotions healthily and constructively. Core wounds also inform an individual's false self-perception in underestimating their intelligence, potential and worth. Conversely, they can overestimate their importance, greatness and specialness to compensate for the shame of the wound rendering their self-worth and confidence obsolete. They also commonly struggle with boundaries, self-esteem and trust.
Many carry the burden of responsibility that is not theirs. It is never a child's fault. While this essay series is not interested in pointing the blame at the primary caregivers who for whatever reasons didn’t or couldn’t be attentive to the child’s needs, it must be acknowledged that the child is in no way at fault, inadequate, bad or deserving of being mistreated or emotionally neglected. The reality is that it happens all too often and as a result, many adults are living a compromised life. Guided writing alongside therapy are ways in which the suffering can be alleviated.
A Way Forward
Getting help has nothing to do with the situation, person or people who wounded you through what was or was not said or done or through what did or did not happen. Conversely, it is about you and your experience and how it made you feel. By giving expression to this through the assistance and guidance of a professional, you can begin to move forward without the adverse effects of core wounds shadowing adult life to the degree it has while alone, or even at all.
The process of owning experiences of significant impact from the child self’s point of view requires assistance to navigate the overwhelming emotional terrain. The aim is to arrive at a point in which it's possible to acknowledge, accept and let go. Through the writing I do with my clients the letting can be through transforming the experience into something else. This may be to create a different ending, or attributing the experience with meaning and significance that is used in positive ways going forward.
The experience of another present while putting the wounding experiences to words increases awareness and heals the pain of neglect, abandonment and loneliness felt as a child. To understand and both creatively and critically engage with what took place shrinks the emotional power and terror of the original event. The presence of another helps disrupt the tendency to re-experience events through the child self’s perspective for it to be held, felt and known from the adult perspective. Enabling the adult self to hold a compassionate understanding of the child-self’s experience. For this reason, the help and guiding feedback of another through therapy, storytelling or intimate relationship is essential. The help represents a safe holding space to unpack the wound’s contents until this capacity is established within. Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk maintain that the wound or trauma must also be physically released from the body, whether it be through crying, yoga, massage, creative activities such as painting and collage, sauna, running etc.
Wounds that keep bleeding
A wounded adult is no different from the former wounded child. Both remain in need of acknowledging what is meaningful and significant to them and why. They require:
- A safe and dependable holding space to contain emotionally chaotic and loaded experience.
- The opportunity to learn how to question the limiting beliefs and negative self-perceptions following the inciting incident;
- To put pain into words and order and so become conscious of how what’s unresolved and still raw continues to show up in and constrain present life.
- To express in words what they experience through the physical release attained through exercise, massage, crying, creative activities, sauna etc
Whatever help is chosen functions to hold a safe and nurturing space for the bleeding wound or the injured child-self to come out of hiding and be known without judgement. The helping other allows for a dialogue of sorts to help overwhelming process experience. Once a positive model of this has been repeatedly had to the point in which it can be integrated, the individual may proceed for the most part to stage this constructive dialogue independently. The individual may want and choose the help and presence of another without being dependant on it.
For this positive model of thinking through triggers nurtures the awareness required to readily identify and choose a better way when future conflicts arise. It reinforces that through practice the present is not the past. Instead, the emotional realities of the past are superimposed upon the present. Being aware of this empowers individuals to stop losing time to their past life by seeing the difference between things as they are and the feelings of how things were. To think and perceive from an expanded perspective is the beginning of feeling and experiencing differently.
The awareness and freedom to changeTo need help in addressing our childhood hurts is not a failure, shortcoming or ‘woe is me’ to be hastily dismissed or ridiculed. No, help is essential to allow ourselves to accept what was and need not be any longer. It enables us to avoid repeating the cycle of continuing to mindlessly hurt ourselves and others.