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Wounds of Childhood: Three Understandings to Facilitate Healing of…

 

images-663Experiences from childhood, events in which we created meanings about self and other, in our interactions with primary caregivers in particular, have the power to unconsciously shape our lives. Our core beliefs about who we are, what we are capable of, how we want life to be, and so on, were formed mostly in the formative years of childhood–and these meanings unknowingly guide our steps as we walk along our path in life.

Some do so continuously in positive ways, giving us stamina to overcome challenges, or encouragement to sustain our enthusiasm for expressing our talents and interests.

Other experiences affect us in negative ways, blocking our growth.

Often the impact of negative childhood experiences remains dormant until adulthood, when an intimate relationship seems to bring out some deeply painful aspect of ourselves, hidden deep inside.

Yet our most intimate relationships are often the ones that cause us the most pain, likely because they also offer the most fertile ground and opportunities, potentially, for us to consciously explore any unexamined beliefs or unresolved wounds from childhood and realize our own healing. We may uncover issues coming up of trust or control, fear of abandonment or engulfment, or perhaps we find ourselves instinctively reenacting the actions of a parent that we find distasteful, based on our current values. We may experience painful emotions and feelings that overwhelm or rob us of the energy and hope we need to make better choices. Regardless the challenge, we each have the power within us, as adults, to change, transform and heal ourselves at the deepest level.

What facilitates our healing?

1. It helps to start from a place of knowing, that: if we survived the formative years of childhood—which we would not have, had we not received some level of love and care, physical and emotional, from our primary caregivers—we are now, as adults, whole beings unto ourselves (despite the reality that we are social beings at heart).

Whereas this would have been an insurmountable task in childhood, with the wisdom and cognitive abilities of our adult self, we can learn to be the nurturing parent or guardian who lovingly—and wisely—guides us with just the right balance of encouragement and discipline we needed as a child. We may love to receive love from others, however, we have everything we really, really need inside us—we have all the love, joy, wisdom, fun, purpose, personal power we would ever need to potentially create a life for ourselves and loved our ones that is enriching, harmonious and meaningful.

Others may make us happy, yet, if we are to mutually empower one another’s happiness, we must let go of giving them any responsibility for our happiness, heath and joy. This is our own beautiful responsibility. Similarly, we are never primarily responsible for others’ happiness, though we may love and prefer them to be happy.

Our responsibility to each other is to promote, and avoid standing in the way of, one another’s efforts to enrich life.

2. It also facilitates healing to see life as a journey or learning process in which one of the most important lessons is: to learn how to love and accept self and others unconditionally, especially in key moment by moment decisions we make when we are triggered and prone to go into scary places, do desperate things, etc.

This ability for compassion, an understanding love, allows us to forgive ourselves and others as people, even as we recognize what actions, our own and others, are harmful and destructive to our happiness and health.

In his best-selling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl states that, “Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

3. It also helps to understand that: we are not our emotion, and we are not the thoughts that cause our emotions. We are much more, we are the observers, choice makers and creators of our lives, thoughts, feelings or behaviors.

Our feelings are not right or wrong, negative and positive per se; they are merely communications from our body to us telling us, at any moment, where we are in relation to where we aspire to be. Essentially, emotions and feelings (especially upsetting ones) are vital signals, critical information that inform our choices, help us to better understand ourselves and others. They often call us to note that something we are thinking or believing may not be serving us, for example, they may be telling us to stop focusing on changing others or “waiting” for them to love or accept us, etc. (as this is not within our “control”), and instead  to take optimal action to restore and balance our own emotional state.

In short, life offers opportunities to clear the weeds of childhood wounds in the gardens of our lives. We can bring up painful events in our lives in order to examine them from different angles and perspectives. As we do, we may recreate different scenarios in our mind’s eye, exploring different possibilities or outcomes. In doing so, we imagine different reasons an event may have occurred as it did, and perhaps even accept that, as painful as it was, in other ways, it served the highest benefit of all concerned.

We have more power to create the healthy and happy life and relationships we want than we think. The key is to live life consciously — aware of our beliefs, feelings, thoughts, needs—and the power of our moment to moment choices. When we become aware of beliefs and limiting ideas that do not serve us, we can choose to let go or transform them in present moments.

There are of course obstacles to face and overcome. The most common impediment is our tendency as human beings to avoid what is painful or difficult in the moment, and give in to doing what is easier and more pleasing. When we pass up chances to face old fears and pain with courage, when we choose pleasing or luring distractions to “help” us avoid the inevitable, we unfortunately miss out on avoiding needless suffering  and getting stronger as old wounds drain our energy and power to live more fulfilled, authentic lives.

Of course, we may find that we need support to heal past wounds, and, in this case, turning to a professional who can offer tools for healing may be the best choice to your own path for healing and breakthrough limiting barriers. As long as we remember that the child we were lives on within us, we are always free to go back and right old wrongs, correct mistaken perceptions, heal wounds, in time, forgive, and begin anew.

These understandings help us stop looking for love and power outside of ourselves, from some person, event, food, drink, and so on. They invite us to embrace the responsibility we each have in our moment by moment choices—to consciously nurture our own physical and emotional well being daily, and, from this place of tender love for ourselves and life, then reach out caringly to nurture the relationships with those we most love.



Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, Safe Enough to Love™: Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit www.drstaik.com, or visit on her Facebook fan page DrAthenaStaik

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    Last reviewed: 12 May 2013

 

 
 
 
 

Home » tips »

Wounds of Childhood: Three Understandings to Facilitate Healing of…

 

images-663Experiences from childhood, events in which we created meanings about self and other, in our interactions with primary caregivers in particular, have the power to unconsciously shape our lives. Our core beliefs about who we are, what we are capable of, how we want life to be, and so on, were formed mostly in the formative years of childhood–and these meanings unknowingly guide our steps as we walk along our path in life.

Some do so continuously in positive ways, giving us stamina to overcome challenges, or encouragement to sustain our enthusiasm for expressing our talents and interests.

Other experiences affect us in negative ways, blocking our growth.

Often the impact of negative childhood experiences remains dormant until adulthood, when an intimate relationship seems to bring out some deeply painful aspect of ourselves, hidden deep inside.

Yet our most intimate relationships are often the ones that cause us the most pain, likely because they also offer the most fertile ground and opportunities, potentially, for us to consciously explore any unexamined beliefs or unresolved wounds from childhood and realize our own healing. We may uncover issues coming up of trust or control, fear of abandonment or engulfment, or perhaps we find ourselves instinctively reenacting the actions of a parent that we find distasteful, based on our current values. We may experience painful emotions and feelings that overwhelm or rob us of the energy and hope we need to make better choices. Regardless the challenge, we each have the power within us, as adults, to change, transform and heal ourselves at the deepest level.

What facilitates our healing?

1. It helps to start from a place of knowing, that: if we survived the formative years of childhood—which we would not have, had we not received some level of love and care, physical and emotional, from our primary caregivers—we are now, as adults, whole beings unto ourselves (despite the reality that we are social beings at heart).

Whereas this would have been an insurmountable task in childhood, with the wisdom and cognitive abilities of our adult self, we can learn to be the nurturing parent or guardian who lovingly—and wisely—guides us with just the right balance of encouragement and discipline we needed as a child. We may love to receive love from others, however, we have everything we really, really need inside us—we have all the love, joy, wisdom, fun, purpose, personal power we would ever need to potentially create a life for ourselves and loved our ones that is enriching, harmonious and meaningful.

Others may make us happy, yet, if we are to mutually empower one another’s happiness, we must let go of giving them any responsibility for our happiness, heath and joy. This is our own beautiful responsibility. Similarly, we are never primarily responsible for others’ happiness, though we may love and prefer them to be happy.

Our responsibility to each other is to promote, and avoid standing in the way of, one another’s efforts to enrich life.

2. It also facilitates healing to see life as a journey or learning process in which one of the most important lessons is: to learn how to love and accept self and others unconditionally, especially in key moment by moment decisions we make when we are triggered and prone to go into scary places, do desperate things, etc.

This ability for compassion, an understanding love, allows us to forgive ourselves and others as people, even as we recognize what actions, our own and others, are harmful and destructive to our happiness and health.

In his best-selling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl states that, “Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

3. It also helps to understand that: we are not our emotion, and we are not the thoughts that cause our emotions. We are much more, we are the observers, choice makers and creators of our lives, thoughts, feelings or behaviors.

Our feelings are not right or wrong, negative and positive per se; they are merely communications from our body to us telling us, at any moment, where we are in relation to where we aspire to be. Essentially, emotions and feelings (especially upsetting ones) are vital signals, critical information that inform our choices, help us to better understand ourselves and others. They often call us to note that something we are thinking or believing may not be serving us, for example, they may be telling us to stop focusing on changing others or “waiting” for them to love or accept us, etc. (as this is not within our “control”), and instead  to take optimal action to restore and balance our own emotional state.

In short, life offers opportunities to clear the weeds of childhood wounds in the gardens of our lives. We can bring up painful events in our lives in order to examine them from different angles and perspectives. As we do, we may recreate different scenarios in our mind’s eye, exploring different possibilities or outcomes. In doing so, we imagine different reasons an event may have occurred as it did, and perhaps even accept that, as painful as it was, in other ways, it served the highest benefit of all concerned.

We have more power to create the healthy and happy life and relationships we want than we think. The key is to live life consciously — aware of our beliefs, feelings, thoughts, needs—and the power of our moment to moment choices. When we become aware of beliefs and limiting ideas that do not serve us, we can choose to let go or transform them in present moments.

There are of course obstacles to face and overcome. The most common impediment is our tendency as human beings to avoid what is painful or difficult in the moment, and give in to doing what is easier and more pleasing. When we pass up chances to face old fears and pain with courage, when we choose pleasing or luring distractions to “help” us avoid the inevitable, we unfortunately miss out on avoiding needless suffering  and getting stronger as old wounds drain our energy and power to live more fulfilled, authentic lives.

Of course, we may find that we need support to heal past wounds, and, in this case, turning to a professional who can offer tools for healing may be the best choice to your own path for healing and breakthrough limiting barriers. As long as we remember that the child we were lives on within us, we are always free to go back and right old wrongs, correct mistaken perceptions, heal wounds, in time, forgive, and begin anew.

These understandings help us stop looking for love and power outside of ourselves, from some person, event, food, drink, and so on. They invite us to embrace the responsibility we each have in our moment by moment choices—to consciously nurture our own physical and emotional well being daily, and, from this place of tender love for ourselves and life, then reach out caringly to nurture the relationships with those we most love.



Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, Safe Enough to Love™: Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit www.drstaik.com, or visit on her Facebook fan page DrAthenaStaik

Like this author?
Catch up on other posts by
Athena Staik, Ph.D.
(or subscribe to their
feed).

Comments

View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has

0 comments.

You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: 12 May 2013