Our two biggest wounds
I dare to say that there is probably not one single person on this planet who, to some extent, doesn’t have to deal with our two biggest wounds as human beings. Some of us experience the pain of these wounds physically and/or emotionally and some of us are busy trying to avoid feeling them at all. But sooner or later, on our journey of personal development, through spiritual awakening or any kind of deeper healing processes, we will be confronted with these wounds. John Welwood, an American psychotherapist, identified them as the essential wound and the relational wound. Let us face them consciously.
Our Essential Wound
The essential wound originates in our loss of beingness, or to put it more correctly, in the loss of feeling connected to our beingness. As almost none of us growing up were surrounded by enlightened parents who were connected to, and aware of, their own beingness, hardly any of us experienced that someone was relating to our own indwelled beingness. And because our beingness is our core, few of us felt truly met or seen. As a result, few of us established our essential center as the reference point from which to act and perceive this reality in which we live.
For some of us this fundamental experience of separation is the start of a painful downward spiral into avoidance, numbness, distraction or addiction, etc. For others it might be the driving force which leads us toward spirituality. It is in the latter that we begin searching for deeper meaning by turning our attention toward ourselves.
Our Relational Wound
The second important category of wound, as John Welwood calls it, is the relational wound or the wound of the heart. This one is a consequence of not having experienced an environment of REAL holding during our upbringing. Real holding can be defined as the perfect amount and quality of contact and personal space. Most of us growing up experienced either an insufficient amount (too much/too little) of contact or of personal space, or the absence of both. A child’s typical reaction to dealing with this dilemma is to blame themselves. Such reaction creates the self impression of ‘I am wrong/not good enough/a problem/unworthy/not lovable/lacking something’, etc. The buildup of these reactions leads to what is called a deficient identity.
Compensation Of Our False Self
Because of this fundamental feeling of being identified with deficiency, or false self you could say, one attempts to compensate for this unbearable lacking by trying to prove that they are a good/lovable/worthy person and so forth. This behavior starts a roller coaster ride where we alternate between hope and fear. We self-reference everything, trying to show up as ‘the good guy’ as we collect positive stories about ourselves to convince others that we are good people. When we meditate and become aware of the movements in our mind we can see that our mental activity is either busy detecting and labeling problems, and trying to find a solution for a problem. Or our mind is busy with identifying where others are wrong or bad and we use comparisons to appear good and right, creating nice stories about ourselves.
The danger on the spiritual path is that we may use spiritual concepts or practices to avoid feeling our pain. This is described by the term spiritual bypassing, and can become a big problem within a spiritual community. This avoidance can happen through all kinds of leisurely distractions such as consuming alcohol or other drugs, becoming a workaholic, compulsive/excessive shopping, sex, overexposure to electronic devices, etc. What all of these activities have in common is that they numb us or keep us busy enough that we don’t actually feel our pains. Similar to sitting on the meditation cushion, chanting mantras or performing rituals; all kinds of activities can be used to help us ignore the difficult feelings and challenges in our daily lives. But sooner or later, if we are truly interested in authentic awakening and entering into sincere adulthood, it becomes obvious that in order to connect with our inherent depth, we need to open unconditionally to our pain, regardless of what this may bring to the surface.
The Dilemma And The Gift Of Opening
Whether we are on a journey of healing our body, personal development or spiritual awakening, the key to their effectiveness is to open more deeply. Unfortunately, when we dare to do so, we experience pain. It is unavoidable, and if anyone tells you anything different than this, proceed with caution.
It can be physical pain, tension, contraction, emotional pain of any kind or the experience of hopelessness, meaninglessness and other facets of despair. The good news is, when we sense those unpleasant experiences, we are heading in the right direction of healing, transformation and becoming our authentic selves. I can’t emphasize enough how relevant it is to be willing to open—to open your body, your feelings, your mind, your energy body and all your realms into the invisible in order to tap into the mystery of who we really are, layer on layer, deeper and deeper. There is no end to this journey.
The Quality Of Support
As our wounds happen in our relationships it is so important that we bring them in the process of healing and awakening into the WE-space of relationship. I do see, to a certain extent that we can walk this path alone but when we reach complex junctions, we may go faster and deeper in the company of another human being supporting us, being present with us, witnessing us. The more grounded this person of support is in their own deep nature, the more this person embodies compassion, humility and vulnerability of humanness, the stronger our own essence can begin to resonate and follow it’s inherent call to surrender into it’s rightful home.
We Can Do It
We need to face our issues such as lack of trust, feeling cheated/rejected/abandoned or attacked by others. We need to acknowledge and experience our vulnerability, our fragile existence as a temporary appearance in a human body, in order to drop deeper into the realm of the eternal, boundless nature of our essential beingness. The seed of evolving into the full spectrum of our multidimensional being is embedded in all of us and so too, is the way to thrive and to embody our unique and authentic potential. May we all support each other on this journey.