As some of you know, I’ve been working on narrowing my niche for sometime. I’m feeling wonderful about the work I do as an Inner Child Advocate. Ever since I read about the Wounded Child archtype in Carolyn Myss’s book Sacred Contracts I felt completely drawn to it. I AM a wounded child so that’s why I relate to it so strongly. This is the work I’ve been doing but I had no idea on how to marketed it properly. (most likely because my wounded inner child has been running my business for the past 6 years. So afraid of making a mistake and getting in trouble. So hard to deal with my shame of not feeling good enough…………
The more I’ve used tapping to nurture and take care of my wounded inner child the more enlightened and helpful I feel I can be. Don’t’ get me wrong, I’m human and still a work in progress but it’s made a world of difference!
I’m so excited that I recently came across a beautiful description of the Wounded Child archtype written by Susanna Barlow. I’ve edited her essay below a bit for clearer understanding for you but you can read it in it’s entirety by clicking HERE.
The Wounded Child archetype has experienced some kind of initiatory wound in their early life. This experience creates a lens through which the Wounded Child views their circumstances and the motives or actions of others. This usually happens at a fairly young age when the child is highly impressionable. his experience or string of experiences acts as an initiation inextricably linking the Wounded Child to the path they were meant to live. I call this the lens of pain.
This lens (created by the initial wound) through which all things are now experienced colors, defines and shapes the way the Wounded Child perceives their life.
The Wounded Child is easily caught up with the victim, getting stuck in the story of suffering, feeling hopeless, worthlessness and heaviness. Themes of rejection, failure, unworthiness and longing are all prevalent in this archetypal pattern. The wounded child can feel abandoned, misunderstood, unloved, uncared for, even by themselves. They are sensitive to the pain and emotions of others often to the point of confusing others emotions with their own.
The pain from this childhood wound will replay itself over and over in the adult life until the trauma or wound is tended to and healed. Only then can the inner child mature and develop the gifts that are inherent to the Wounded Child archetype. For example, if you were bullied at school or picked on by siblings, cousins or other peers you will continue to feel bullied as an adult by co-workers, friends and other peer groups. If you were abused by a parent or an adult you may feel abused by your boss at work, the IRS, the government or any other perceived authority figure. Your reactions to this perception will match the way you coped with the abuse or bullying as a child. If you were sexually abused as a child you may perceive your spouse or partner through the highly distorted lens of your own sexual abuse. You will recreate the dynamics experienced in childhood with you as the victim. If you suffered a handicap as a child and needed constant care you will recreate the dynamics of invalid and caretaker in one of your personal relationships.
The Shadow Wounded Child
- always looking backward, remembering both good and bad memories and somehow transforming them all into a painful melancholy.
- running from his or her past and feels haunted by the heaviness of memory.
- blames the wound or wounding on much of their adult life problems.
- looking backwards & creates if only phrases like: If only I wasn’t sickly I would be able to do more & contribute, If only I had been loved and cared about I might have turned out better, If only I had been treated with respect I wouldn’t be so angry all the time, If only that hadn’t never happened to me my life would be better
- Fear of change: if they heal their wounds their life will change. Change equals loss. Loss is unbearable. They already feel like they have lost something deep and intrinsic and therefore they are clinging to everything else.
- Fear of letting go: Another of way of looking at this could be “fear of letting go.” Letting go of an old identity, letting go of your children or spouse, letting go of your anger and resentment, letting go of sadness or the victim role and letting go of how others perceive you are a few examples.
- Feeling misunderstood: They are easily offended and hurt and others often feel they have to “walk on egg shells” around them. The intense need for others to understand them while simultaneously believing that others can never understand leaves them feeling emotionally raw or needy.
- drawn to other people’s suffering and tragedies. A fascination or over-investment in someone else’ pain or heartache is an attempt to understand their own pain and heartache which is usually too overwhelming to confront.
- feeling of brokenness sets up a pattern of shame; shame for being depressed, shame for being not good enough, weird, angry, resentful etc. This shame, unworthiness or hopelessness traps the Shadow Wounded Child
Sometimes the Shadow Wounded Child does not associate their painful story with the past but upon examination it will be obvious that their current thoughts are old stories created out of past beliefs and experiences thus making the stories (from today) feel irrefutably true.
The Wounded Child is desperately seeking to understand the pain that seems to be lurking in the background or foreground of their life.
It may seem to others that the Wounded Child does not want to be healed, but the Wounded Child senses that the wounding of their life has some value, some unnameable worth that causes them to keep the wound open and raw.
I want to be loved. . .
I want to be loved. . . is the story of the wounded child. I want to be valued and important. I want to matter to someone and be seen by others as worthy. All of these are shadow aspects of the Wounded Child because the Wounded Child cannot make others love them or see their true worth. This leaves them feeling continuously needy of others love and acceptance and they seem to never get enough of it. They want to give to others but feel that the wound prevents them from being able to give so they get stuck in a cycle of want and emotional impoverishment.
The Enlightened Wounded Child
Forgiveness: Forgiveness or the need to forgive is a theme for the Wounded Child.
- Forgiveness is what happens when you stop rejecting what you believe to be the cause of your suffering.
- Forgiveness is opening up to the bad thing and allowing it in. You may be surprised to find relief in this and that it in no way diminishes the pain but actually validates it in a way that nothing else does.
- The Enlightened Wounded Child has a tender and open heart. This makes them open to wounding but it also makes them open to forgiveness.
- For the Enlightened Wounded Child forgiveness is a way of life. Forgiving the past, forgiving the hurt and forgiving the losses or in other words making room for the past, making room for the hurt and making room the losses means you don’t exactly let it go as much as you widen your capacity to hold it and end the resistance to it.
Standing in the Fire
The Enlightened Wounded Child discovers that by entering the darkness of their pain and working through it, that they can stand in the fire of pain and not be burned. Their capacity to get close to others’ pain without getting caught up in it, makes them ideal healers, doctors, nurses, therapists and others in the healing arts. They are like mountain men who know a particular terrain and can be a guide for others who are passing through. But this mountain is where the Wounded Child lives and has made their peace. They have mastered the art of letting go, embracing intense emotions and being a channel for others to release their pain. Suffering, pain, sorrow, and depression are all places the Enlightened Wounded Child has been and is not afraid to revisit. Rather than avoiding it, the Enlightened Wounded Child embraces these “negative” aspects of the human experience. They learn that some wounds aren’t meant to be healed but to be understood. The darkness becomes depth and the pain is only a sharpener to maintain keenness and sensitivity. Compassion can then be developed and the Enlightened Wounded Child is deeply compassionate and caring.
The Gift of the Wound
Capacity to Love Others
In its shadow the Wounded Child is looking for others to love them but the Enlightened Wounded Child knows that what they really long for is giving love to others. I want to love is truer for the Wounded Child than I want to BE loved. Unconditional love is part of the Enlightened Wounded Child and therefore they are brimming with affection and compassion for others. They are usually the friend that others turn to for understanding and support. They have a strong desire to understand others deeply and are usually non-judgmental and openhearted. They have overcome their fears of rejection and know that they can handle whatever comes their way. The Enlightened Wounded Child has learned that to Give is to Get. Understanding others is the key to understanding themselves. Giving love allows the Wounded Child to feel and receive the love of others freely and unconditionally because they have learned to love who they are enough to share that love with others. The Wounded Child gains the sense of connection and belonging that they felt was denied them, when they can be who they truly are and to be authentic and real. Many a Wounded Child has felt ashamed of their wound, that it makes them less of a person when in reality it makes them more. They have more to give, more understanding and more tenderness, rather than less. The wound when properly recognized and confronted becomes a light of hope to themselves and the rest of the world.
When transformed from the shadow to the light the Wounded Child archetype is a powerful example of the resiliency of the human spirit. They are open, tender, vulnerable and wise. Their life experience has taught them that the pain that once dominated their life is the source of their compassion, their insight, depth and wisdom.