Core wounds result from childhood experiences that emotionally, physically and psychologically disturb or injure the developing self.
During the formative years of human development, the ‘self’ or a sense of who we are as separate from others is forming. This period is vulnerable, impressionable and dependent on others holding a safe and nurturing space for growth to occur. For these reasons, children cannot heal from a wounding experience on their own. Throughout this formative stage of life their internal resources are insufficient regardless of how gifted, intelligent or strong-willed they appear.
Help is required to recover and continue growing just as help remains necessary for adults engaging with their core wounds. Help being necessary in this process might be considered a loaded concept since the implicit message (that can be harmfully received by the child originally left alone in their unbearable pain) is that they should be able to cope alone.
This can be one of the many false ways children come to understand why they’ve been left alone with what is experienced as too much to cope with. Their psychology at this stage of life is setup to survive and to make sense of situations and others in ways that avoid them feeling as powerless as they are, or negatively towards primary caretakers who are essential to their survival. To clarify, it would be less threatening and therefore distressing for a child to hate, blame and hold who they are in negative regard than turn against a much loved, revered and godlike guardian who is needed in order to secure their daily physical requirements.
It’s not uncommon for children to make deductions such as how they feel isn’t important because they haven’t experienced their emotional reality as important. Repeatedly, the hurt aspect of who they are isn’t treated as worthy of compassion, help or being known and loved. This becomes a model for how they in turn learn to treat this aspect of who they are. In instances of abuse, children may go on believe they aren’t good enough to be protected, defended and have appropriate action taken to stop what legally shouldn’t happen from continuing. They believe this because it is consistent with the reality they are experiencing.
This can also cause confusion to whether what was done to them was wrong. It felt wrong but this feeling isn’t validated. Confusion as to what is and isn’t allowed to happen to them is too complex to process and leads to ambivalence, fear and future difficulty in identifying, respecting and maintaining appropriate self-care, borders and boundaries.
Children are susceptible to feeling responsibility and shame for being unable to bare their distress alone. The fact unbeknown to children is that at this stage of life, biologically and neurologically, they have no capacity to process complex emotions or information. Although beliefs surrounding the fault being theirs are false they are nonetheless experienced as real and continue into adulthood.
Adults’ with a wounded inner child continue needing the help they required as children. This unresolved inner child part of who they are is stuck in limbo and can’t grow beyond the wound until the necessary work effectively takes place. The guilt and shame or the wound that keeps bleeding over their life shows up in multiple ways of avoiding and hiding the hurt, damage and vulnerability.
As adults it can be so hard to be open to assistance until it’s no longer needed. Especially when it’s believed that at this stage of life what is an issue shouldn’t be. Furthermore, it’s not necessarily easy to identify who and what is able to help with something buried so deep for so long. It can also be difficult to feel worthy of assistance.
It can take time to fully see and process that just like everyone else, they too equally deserve every bit of compassion, understanding, love and acceptance they freely give to others. Being ready to accept help in engaging with core wounds is in many ways having already completed much of the hard work in this self-transforming process.
Follow this link for Writing Core Wounds II.