Thoughts on Psychological Wounding
I just came back from 3.5 months in California: It was an amazing journey. I spent 2.5 months in San Francisco and 1 month in a spiritual community practicing Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga. I recharged my batteries, reconnected with the U.S. which is one of my favorite countries in the world, and reconnected with long-time friends.
I learned a lot along the way. One thing that struck me during my reconnection with people in the field of healing and therapy, was how many people identified with victim consciousness, following trauma they experienced in their life. That comes through the use of vocabulary, such as:
“my childhood wounding”, “my deepest wound”, “this person triggered me” (by saying that, you are giving this person the power to trigger you).
That reminded me of Jordan Peterson (who is a therapist, a professor of psychology, and has experience helping people cope with trauma), who advises:
“Don’t say things that make you weak.”
I would add that you can practice vulnerability (as a practice of candor, in Conscious Leadership) and as advocated by Brené Brown, but it doesn’t have to become your core.
For instance, there is a dear friend of mine, who went through deep childhood trauma following the horrible abuse he suffered as a child. One thing that I noticed is that he continued to suffer quite a lot as an adult, despite all the tremendous healing work he has done for the last 10-15 years or so. As a matter of fact, he is a guide and a healer himself, and a highly skilled one. He is a great example of the “wounded healer” (term coined by Carl Jung). And he is not alone: I am one of them too, as are 82% of applied psychology graduate students and faculty members in the United States and Canada who experienced mental health conditions at some point in their lives (Victor et al. 2021).
One thing that I keep wondering is whether people in this situation could benefit from identifying less with the victim that they were, and start forming a newer identity and a new persona by creating themselves differently in the world (see Steve Chandler’s Reinventing Yourself). By that, I don’t mean only continuing all the Deep Inner Work that they are doing (and sometimes overdoing), but also adding up other conscious practices such as the following:
-Stop talking about their wounds and wounding so often
-Speaking more about what they are creating in the world, and what they truly want
-Spend a less time trying to heal, and spend a more time doing “normal” activities to stop the Spiritual Bypassing that they are often taking part (more in this article)
I mention this because I have noticed a very different attitude in other people, who have gone through tremendous trauma too, but don’t use that trauma (which part of their past) or their status as a victim (which is only a thought) to create more obstacles in their life.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that acknowledging that one has been a victim is a necessary step in the healing process. However, keeping this victim identity too long becomes an impediment to further growth, and the process of liberation from suffering which they are often seeking.
From Wounded to Wise
Once this shift happens (Yes, Shift Happens!), they can shift from this victim consciousness to the virtuous triangle of:
Creator, Challenger and Coach. (Check out these great cards created by the Conscious Leadership Group)
That allows to shift to the Sage perspective, as described in Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence.
Indeed, they can then access their deep Inner Wisdom (IW), to appreciate all that there is to appreciate at this moment.
They can Love What Is, (Byron Katie).
They can fully Be Here Now (Ram Dass).
They no longer identify with the thoughts and feelings of “my childhood wounding”, “my deepest wound”, …
They don’t need to heal anymore, they are whole and healed. Instantly.
A few words of caution
I would like to add a word of caution and ontological humility to this article.
First, I am not a therapist, nor a trauma expert, but I have studied psychology and done my fair share of Deep Inner Work and healing. That’s my positionality, and that’s also what allows me to have an (unorthodox?) view on trauma.
However, with my experience as a coach, I do see how to shift quickly from a victim mindset to an empowered creator’s mindset (by “quickly, I mean in a few seconds”). You get to create that if you want to.
Tony Robbins gives that example by living a life filled with positive emotions. He created an agreement with his wife Sage, that when they get upset, angry, or frustrated, they have 60 seconds to process their emotion, and then shift it to something positive and constructive because they made the conscious choice to live a fulfilled life.
I do believe that some people are more committed to living a life of suffering, drama and trauma, than truly doing what it takes to be fully liberated.
However, I do repeat that this shift can only happen once enough release and healing has been done, since trauma can be stuck in the body at a cellular level, and before it is released completely (or at least to a tipping point), the victim consciousness might be the only default operating mode for the psyche.
To someone in that situation, I might say:
“Trauma is part of you, or was a part of you, but you are much more than your trauma.”
And to someone who is identifying with their core wounding but is ready to listen, I would ask:
“Who would you be without that thought?”
I had that conversation with another friend and coach, who also went through a lot of abuse as a child and as an adult too, as I was hearing him talk a lot about “his” PTSD, and we came to the conclusion that PTSD can come up with large and disruptive symptoms that do alter one’s life. Obviously, the Work can’t be done when trauma is emerging in the form of PTSD and first needs to be released (like the pressure from a pressure cooker just after the cooking process). But once enough of it has been released, it is possible to open the lid gently and let the excess steam come out.
I might be completely wrong
I will close this article by saying that I might be totally wrong. If you experienced trauma yourself, you might think that this is a totally ignorant view of someone who knows very little about trauma, and who can’t understand exactly what you went through. I get that that.
What I will say, then is the following:
If in these words, you saw a glimpse of truth that can help you, heal you, or empower you in any way: Take it.
If, after reading these words, you think about one tiny step you can take, one action you can try, that can help you (based on your own Inner Wisdom and guidance, not what I say, or any other so-called “expert” out there says):
Whatever doesn’t work for you, or you are not willing to try, simply leave it.
You are the expert at your own life.
You only have the inner manual and user’s guide to yourself (yes, you do, you already know everything you need to know).