Unraveling Painful Emotions: Lovingly Attending to Core Pain and Wounded Pain
How often do you feel stuck in the same hurtful patterns or overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings? Blaming and judging others or ourselves, allowing ourselves to sink into hopelessness or telling ourselves that there’s no other choice available to us, are signs that the Wounded Self is running the show. Opening a crack within us that’s curious about what the truth of the situation might be and slowing down the automatic responses that feel as natural and necessary as breathing, are the first steps to freedom and peace.
Don’t ask me how I know…Actually, ask me and I’ll share the secret with you.
Those first steps and the way out began with horror movies. I’m not a fan. I don’t like feeling scared. What I discovered is that if I find myself watching a scene that is too intense, I can attend to my feelings and Inner Child by moving the lens of my mind back so that I can imagine cameras, lighting, technicians, the director and other elements of a movie set surrounding the actors and the action. Then, I might move further back in time to when the actors showed up on set that morning for makeup and costuming. The truth that the horrifying scene is the result of talented and creative minds calms me. It’s pretty impressive, then, to witness how efficiently the Wounded Self can scare us, all by itself, without the help of a creative team behind it. And scare us, it does.
In Step 1 of Inner Bonding®, where the task is to “Feel Your Feelings”, we have the opportunity to confront our fear and other painful emotions such as shame, guilt and hopelessness. We are also invited to greet our core, existential pain such as grief, loneliness and helplessness over others with deep compassion. The challenge for me in the beginning of my Inner Bonding® journey was that these two varieties of pain would descend upon me like a ball of twisted, rigid metal that imbedded itself within my heart. I couldn’t pull them apart. When we have a physical ailment, like a toothache or a dislocated finger, we must first determine what the cause is to know the proper remedy; a root canal won’t put an injured finger back in place. Although all our pain responds well to compassion, our wounded pain requires that we take responsibility for it and approach it with curiosity and a willingness to lay aside our attempts to protect or control against it. We are called to bring to light the wounded lies that are creating pain for our Inner Child. On the other hand, we don’t need to take responsibility for the pain that comes to us from our humanness. Distinguishing between the two kinds of pain, instead of feeling them bound up tightly together, was an immensely powerful awareness for me. With that understanding, came the beginning of healing.
The repeating conflicts I used to experience with my darling, beloved husband left me feeling far more fearful and distressed than any horror film ever could. Our marriage began to transform the first time that I could stay present and connected to my husband in a rocky moment, because Inner Bonding® was teaching me how to stay connected to myself first. Following Margaret Paul’s advice, I lovingly disconnected from my husband and attended to my Inner Child. That familiar ball of twisty, rigid pain descended on my heart, as usual. This time, I was curious about my feelings. I wondered if it could be possible that my feelings weren’t as “true” as I believed. I recognized the conditioned judgment, blame and hopelessness that were part of that pattern and and was able to move the camera in my mind’s eye back enough to see the truth behind what was visible in the scary movie we were writing, directing and acting in. We were two wounded people who loved each other who had been programmed, for very good reasons, to respond to each other in unhelpful ways. Once I separated out the Wounded Pain, I could see that there was also a good deal of Core Pain from the helplessness I felt over him and from the loneliness of our disconnection. I invited in my Guidance to flood that part of my pain with deep compassion. And I listened to my Inner Child as she expressed what was going on with her and gave her exactly what she needed in that moment to feel safe and at peace, which was available now. It changed everything and I could no longer be tricked by the special effects we were unwittingly bringing to life.
Part of the magic of an Inner Bonding® session is that each experience is unique and no session is quite like any other session. My personal sessions and those with clients unfold as they are meant to. But the skill of teasing apart Core Pain from Wounded Pain and attending to each with the specific balm that heals it is a useful tool to have in our Inner Bonding® toolkit and can be a step to a happy and enriching re-write of our unhappy scripts.