We all have a Wounded Self – a part of us that feels as though the world didn’t meet us with love and compassion, an experience that hurt us during one of our most vulnerable points of life – early childhood. It’s a normal part of being human on the earth and it’s important to understand that there’s nothing wrong with you.
For some, this wounding is very clear, and near to the surface of your awareness. Perhaps you’ve already done some work on this awareness, and you know exactly what it is. For others, this wounding is much less clear, and you may have to do more digging to find this source of pain. But whether you know what it is or not, there is a wound inside you somewhere that needs compassion.
Acute Wounding & Trauma
Some of you may be consciously aware of a certain acute wounding you experienced as a child. If you did experience trauma, that’s probably something you want to explore in a professional setting. You don’t want to uncover that wounding on your own. So, be gentle with yourself as you explore this concept, and if anything comes up that feels overwhelming throughout the process, stop the exploration. What we want to talk about here is simply the practice of feeling awareness of a wound, rather than diving into the wound’s source itself. That requires more support, and a strong presence of love and compassion surrounding you while you draw out that wound.
How to Love Your Wounded Self
One of the most important ways we can show up for ourselves when our woundings come to the surface is by practicing self compassion. This is a simple practice you can use to help bring your Healthy Self to your Wounded Self and allow it to tend those wounds.
Step 1 – Acknowledge Your Suffering
Start by telling yourself, “I’m engaging my Healthy Self now.” From that perspective put yourself in the mindset of, “I’m ready to see and address my Wounded Self”. Then, bring to mind the challenge you’re struggling with. Notice the discomfort of that challenge.
This challenge could be an activity in your life that is hard for you to fully participate in, because you’re overwhelmed with other commitments. Maybe you had a difficult conversation with someone recently that you’re struggling to reconcile in your mind. Maybe you’re just feeling stressed about something, or there’s some extra pressure on you that is hard to deal with. Regardless of what your current struggle is, the first step of self compassion is to acknowledge that you’re suffering in some way. You need to acknowledge this in such a way that you can put a hand on your own heart and say, I get it, this is hard. Find some gesture that feels supportive or comforting to you, that fully acknowledges your pain and your discomfort. This is an incredibly important step because, so much of the time, we feel we don’t have the right to acknowledge our own suffering and our own pain, because we feel that others have it worse.
Step 2 – Know You Are Not Alone
The next step is to see that we are not alone in our pain. Think about how many people in the world are likely to be experiencing the same thing as you. There’s a beautiful sense of common humanity in the understanding that you’re not alone in your experience – being human is just difficult sometimes.
Sit with this idea and breathe that in. Then, see if you can find a way to mentor yourself through it. Find a way to hug yourself, or soothe yourself, either through your words or through a physical gesture. Whatever you’d love to hear from others when you’re distressed is what you should give yourself. Be kind to yourself. Bring loving kindness and comfort to yourself. Self-compassion is all about providing for yourself what you provide for others in their time of need.
You can practice self-compassion anytime, but it is particularly useful when you find yourself struggling with something new or something that is just particularly hard, perhaps even for an unknown reason. If you want to learn more about how the Healthy Self, the Wounded Self and the Survivor Self, check out our free downloadable workbook here.