Core wounds have roots in childhood but tend to appear again in adult relationships. When we allow ourselves to be close to other people, we share the most intimate details of our lives with them.
While this can be rewarding, it also opens us up to having our core wounds triggered. Core wound healing can profoundly impact relationships, allowing you to finally have healthy, balanced intimate connections.
Below, learn what core wounds are and what you can do to heal them.
What are the core wounds?
Core wounds have been described as the first traumatic experiences we have in childhood. These traumatic experiences imprint on us and can continue to affect us in adulthood.
A core wound can develop when someone has been traumatized in some way in childhood. It will continue to affect a person until it is confronted and resolved.
Core wounds involve deep emotional pain that people suppress. While a person may not confront a core wound, its pain grows over time, leading to false beliefs about the self.
For example, a person may believe they are not good enough because of a core wound from childhood trauma.
What are core emotional wounds?
Core emotional wounds refer to a range of emotion-based pain we carry from past experiences. There are numerous examples of emotional wounds:
The shame wound
A shame wound occurs if you were publicly shamed and embarrassed as a child, so now you constantly feel ashamed of yourself.
The judgment wound
You may suffer from this core emotional wound if you were harshly judged as a child, and now you feel bad about yourself.
The betrayal wound
You can carry this emotional wound into adulthood if you cannot rely on your parents because they betrayed your trust. You may be fearful that other people will hurt you because you were hurt as a child.
The rejection wound
If there was a time when you reached out to someone to develop a friendship or other form of connection, and they dismissed you, you may be carrying this core wound.
The abandonment wound
If a parent or someone important in your life walked out on you, you would likely have an abandonment wound. You may cling to people because you’re worried they will leave you, too.
If you were repeatedly abused, mistreated, or otherwise neglected as a child, you might feel that you aren’t deserving of love because of what happened to you. If this is the case, you may end up accepting abusive relationships.
How to heal core wounds to improve relationships
The problem with core wounds is that we tend to be attracted to people who activate these wounds. For instance, if we have a core wound because of emotional neglect from a child, we may choose a partner who is also emotionally distant.
We need to take steps to heal core wounds to have healthy, meaningful relationships in which our needs are truly met.
You can learn how to heal core wounds using some tips below.
1. Acknowledge the issue
The first step in healing core emotional wounds is acknowledging the problem. Often, we repress these wounds and act as if they are not bothering us. We may even pretend to be someone different than we are to place a mask on the wounds.
To heal, we must acknowledge our pain rather than run from it or deny it. This requires being honest with ourselves and recognizing that we have suffered.
2. Allow yourself to feel your emotions
Individuals with unprocessed traumatic wounds may repress their emotions or deny themselves the opportunity to feel any negative emotions. They ultimately become emotionally numb.
If this has been your experience, healing core wounds will require you to acknowledge your emotions. Think about what it is that you’re really feeling. Are you feeling insecure? Are you experiencing sadness or regret?
Instead of denying the negative emotion, recognize that it’s okay to feel negative feelings. Processing that emotion is key to healing.
Attachment wounds can represent a core wound. These wounds occur when we develop unhealthy attachment patterns with our primary caregivers during childhood. For instance, an absent or abusive parent can cause us to develop unhealthy attachments rather than establishing a secure bond with our caregivers.
When people have attachment wounds, they carry these wounds into their adult relationships. For instance, if you had an abusive parent, you may develop an avoidant attachment style. You decide you cannot trust people, so avoid attaching them altogether.
Core wound healing can occur when you acknowledge the attachment issues from childhood and begin to move forward from them. You can recognize that you have attachment wounds from childhood but that it is possible to trust people in adulthood.
You can learn more about core wounds in this video:
4. Work with a therapist
Since emotional wounds tend to occur as a result of issues from childhood, it is sometimes necessary to work with a professional to achieve core wound healing. A therapist can help you explore childhood wounds and think about yourself differently.
A modality called psychodynamic therapy may be especially beneficial if you are suffering from core wounds. This therapy method explores subconscious beliefs or emotions from childhood to help people overcome trauma.
How do you heal emotional wounds in a relationship
In a healthy relationship, you can heal your core emotional wounds. This begins by allowing yourself to learn from your partner. Rather than being in denial or pushing them away, be open to their influence.
What this means is that when your partner approaches you about a pattern of behavior they have noticed in you, it’s helpful if you’re open to the conversation. Rather than shutting down or becoming defensive, think about what they’re trying to tell you.
For instance, if they tell you that you tend to become silent in the face of conflict, they may tell you something valuable about yourself.
Another way to heal core wounds in a relationship is to look at your past patterns. Have all of your past relationships ended in the same way? Do you tend to date the same type of people, and none end up being good for you?
If you notice patterns in past relationships, you can begin to heal your core wounds by breaking free from these patterns. Be intentional about doing something different the next time, and you can reach true healing within your relationship.
How to accept the self with strengths and weaknesses
One final piece of recovering from core wounds is finding a way to accept yourself. This requires you to accept all of yourself, including strengths and weaknesses, because it will ultimately provide peace and clarity. You’ll no longer have to deny or suppress trauma or wounds from your past.
The key to accepting yourself and reaching a level of clarity is in the following three strategies:
1. Practice self-compassion
If you’re carrying core wounds, you probably tend to be hard on yourself. You may feel you need to be perfect, or you won’t be worthy of love.
You’ll move toward self-acceptance if you can learn to be compassionate with yourself. This means accepting that you are human and sometimes make mistakes like everyone else.
Think about how you’d treat a loved one if they made a mistake or needed to take a break for a bit. Instead of being unkind to yourself, treat yourself with the same compassion you’d extend to a close friend or family member.
Mindfulness refers to the ability to let thoughts come and go without judgment.
If you’re struggling with core wound healing, develop a habit of practicing mindfulness. This means that when a negative thought enters your head, you just let it go instead of fixating on it or spending time processing it.
This can look like acknowledging, “I feel pain right now,” and then moving on from the thought. When we have core wounds, we tend to believe that our negative thoughts mean that we are somehow flawed or unworthy.
Practicing mindfulness gives your thoughts less power over you. You can achieve mindfulness through meditation or yoga. Some people may even benefit from working with a mindfulness therapist or attending training on mindfulness to help them achieve greater mental clarity.
3. Develop a support system
Healing your attachment wounds is possible if you develop a healthy support system of people you can trust. Instead of letting self-defeating thoughts eat away at your happiness and self-worth, share these thoughts with your friends.
When you’re feeling inadequate or defective, have a conversation with someone in your life you can trust. Chances are, they will be able to give you a different perspective that shifts your thinking and reminds you of your value.
Reaching out for support helps you develop strong relationships and heal an insecure attachment style. Having people to talk to also allows you to achieve clarity.
Core wound healing is possible, and the first step in overcoming core emotional wounds is acknowledging their existence. Stop denying them or pretending to be someone else to cover up these wounds; you’ll find that they have less power over you.
Once you recognize the existence of your core wounds, they lose their power, and you can begin to make positive changes in your life. Sometimes, just acknowledging and accepting your core wounds can allow you to change your way of thinking.
If your core wounds bring up intense emotions and deep pain, you may benefit from working with a counselor or therapist who can provide professional guidance and insight.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked Read more in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.
(Jenni Jacobsen is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Ashland)
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