Healing Your Life
Transition to Phase Two
Bringing Light and Love to the Shadowy Realm
In order to move successfully to Phase Two of this healing process, you need to understand that you are the bringer oflove to your own experience. That is your job and your responsibility.
You cannot rely on anyone else to do this for you. You have to learn how to accept and bless yourself. If you try to heal your Core Wound without establishing your connection to love, you will fail. It will be like entering a dark cave without bringing the light with you. You will not be able to navigate the terrain of the shadow unless you bring the light with you as you descend underground.
Despite the warnings, some people try to take the journey before they are ready. They enter the shadowy world and get stuck or lost. They blame themselves and others. They deepen their pain and their shame. They cannot find their way forward, nor can they easily retrace their steps. Simply put, they get stuck in their pain. They do not move through it. That is both tragic and unnecessary.
Please make a solid connection to the Source of love in your heart before you attempt to investigate your wound
and the shame around it. Practice seeing the light behind the shadow. Practice looking at your judgments with compassion. Learn to become a bringer of love to your own experience. Then you can enter the dark tunnel of your pain carrying the light of awareness and the blessing of love.
If you are having difficulty connecting to love, you may not be ready to move into Phase Two of this work. Take some time to learn to open your heart. Join an Affinity Group or attend a Phase One Healing Your Life Intensive so that you can receive the support of others as you move into your healing journey.
Below you will find the text for Step Five of the Healing Your Life Course. You will also find a link to the video of Paul Ferrini teaching this step. Please read through the text and then watch the corresponding video.. Then, when you are ready, answer the homework questions in the journal that follows. When you have finished, save your answers so that you can refer back to them in the future.
Heal Your Core Wound
Goal: Identify your mommy/daddy wound, your core belief, and
your reactive behavior pattern.
Strategy: Connect with the wounded child within.
Mommy and Daddy Wounds
Each of us has a mommy wound and/or a daddy wound. A mommy wound involves too much, too little, or inappropriate attention from Mommy. A daddy wound involves toomuch, too little, or inappropriate attention from Daddy.
People with mommy wounds have a hard time learning to love and accept themselves and others. Relationships are challenging for them and bring most of their lessons. They do not easily experience intimacy with others.
People with daddy wounds have a hard time being successful in the world. They often struggle in their careers
and have difficulty supporting themselves and making a living. They often lack self-confidence and do not believe in themselves. They frequently do not take the time to develop the skills they need to be successful.
A good relationship with Mommy bodes well for success in relationships. A good relationship with Daddy bodes well for success in career.
Types of Core Wounds
Your core wound may be a mommy wound, a daddy wound, or a combination of both. For example, abandonment is a
core wound. You can be abandoned by Mommy or Daddy or by both of them. Abandonment can be physical or mental/emotional. It may include the death or illness of one or both parents or their unavailability because of divorce, active military service, addiction to drugs or alcohol, postpartum depression or another mental condition.
Betrayal is another type of core wound. Betrayal occurs when trust is established and then destroyed. It happens
when there is a sudden ambivalence or instability in the attention of parents or caretakers. It may happen when a
sibling dies and a parent emotionally disconnects from the surviving child. It can happen when the adult withdraws
emotionally due to an unexpected trauma or physical or mental illness. It happens when a parent or caretaker abuses
a child (and this includes physical, sexual, emotional, or ritual abuse). It happens when there is incest or other inappropriate behavior with siblings or other family members. The wound is exacerbated if the parent knew about the
abuse and did nothing to protect the child.
Another wound is imprisonment/confinement. It happens when parents lock up, overly control or limit the freedom
of a child. Lack of limits can also be a wound. In this case parents/caretakers do not pay adequate attention to the child and allow him or her an unsafe amount of freedom or responsibility. Both over-protection and lack of protection can be wounds.
Stolen childhood is yet another wound. This occurs when parents/caretakers are ill or emotionally unavailable and the child is forced to play the role of parent and takes on adult responsibilities before s/he has grown up.
Repeated humiliation, criticism, shaming, and blaming by parents/significant others is another common core wound.
Other core wounds can result from:
• Pampering, Spoiling, Low Expectations, Overprotection
• Danger/Lack of Safety (Physical or Emotional)
• Guilt, False Responsibility (for a parent or sibling’s death or illness)
• Birth Trauma, Birth Defects, Premature Birth, Serious Childhood Illness
• Not being Wanted, Unplanned Pregnancy
• Rejection by a Parent
• Persecution by Siblings
As you read through the list, other wounds may occur to you. It doesn’t have to be on this list to be a core wound. When you tune into your childhood, you know what you experienced as most hurtful. You know what made you feel most afraid or ashamed. You know in what way you received too much, too little, or inappropriate attention from one or both of your parents, caretakers, siblings or significant others in your life.
Try to spend some time journaling about this. See if you can identify your core wound and understand how it has
impacted your life.
All core wounds lead directly to a core belief about yourself. For example if mommy was ill when you were seven years old and you were asked to be her caretaker, you might grow up with one of these core beliefs:
• I have to take care of others to get their love
• My needs don’t matter.
On the other hand, if your parents pushed you to perform and be successful at school, in sports, or in beauty contents, you might grow up with one of these core beliefs:
• I am stronger, smarter, more beautiful than others.
• If I am not stronger, smarter, or more beautiful than other I won’t be loved.
Your core belief is created out of the shame or unworthiness attached to your core wound. In both of the above examples the shame/unworthiness is the internalized message “I am not good enough as I am. I will only be good enough if I show up the way that mommy or daddy want me to (as the caretaker, the good little girl or boy,
the beauty queen, star student or athlete).”
All core beliefs can be summed up by the overall belief “I am not worthy of love,” or (another version of the same thing) “I have to jump through hoops to be worthy of love.”
Once your core belief is formed, you carry it unconsciously through your life. Even after you leave home you act in a way that is consistent with your core belief. If you learn to be the caretaker and hold the belief “My needs don’t matter,” it is very likely that you will marry a spouse that you have to take care of. It is not until you heal your wound and the belief attached to it that you are able to conclude that “my needs matter” and insist on creating a relationship with someone who can take care of himself.
Once you heal your mommy or daddy wound, you no longer have to marry mommy or daddy. But until you heal that wound, you will operate with the belief that “my needs don’t matter” or “I have to take care of others to be loved” and you will continue to marry mommy or daddy over and over again. This is why after getting divorced, you marry someone just like your former husband or wife. You marry just another version of mommy or daddy because you have not healed your wound and changed the core belief attached to it.
Of course there are as many core beliefs as there are core wounds. Here are a few core beliefs that you might recognize:
• Nothing I do is good enough.
• It’s my fault. I am to blame.
• I’m a bad or evil person (or I would not have been beaten/sexually abused).
• If I ask for what I need, I will be abandoned
• If I am powerful, I won’t be loved. I must play small and hold myself back.
• I am a failure. I will never amount to anything.
• I am stupid. Others are smarter than I am.
• I have to be smarter than others to be loved.
• I have to be thin. If I am fat I won’t be loved.
• I am weak or sickly. If I heal, I won’t be loved.
• The world is not a safe place. If I take a risk, I will be hurt.
• I show up for others, but no one shows up for me.
• I can’t do it by myself. I need someone to do it for me.
• I have to do it by myself. No one else can help.
• My ideas/opinion do not matter.
• When I trust the universe, I get smashed.
•I have to be silent/invisible. If I am seen and heard, I will be rejected.
As you read the above list, you may think of other beliefs that you internalized at an early age. Make some notes in your journal about these beliefs. They may be driving your life at an unconscious level. Becoming conscious of them is very important.
Reactive Behavior Patterns
Your reactive behavior pattern is usually triggered by people who confirm your core belief about yourself. For example, if you believe that “I must be skinny in order to get love and attention” and someone says “You’re a bit chubby,” you are likely to be triggered. Your shame about carrying too much weight and your fear of rejection are brought up. You believe you must be skinny to be loved, so in your eyes they are judging you to be ugly and
unlovable, even if that was not what they were trying to convey to you. On the other hand, maybe they are judging you because they have the same core belief and they are projecting it onto you. This happens a lot.
However, even if they are projecting, they are not responsible for the pain and distress that come up for you. That was already there before they crossed your path. Their judgment/trespass on you just gives you an opportunity to look at your core wound and core belief and begin to heal them.
Here’s another example. Let’s say your mom and dad are both university professors and they value logic and left-brain intelligence. You and your brother are both brought up to believe that you won’t be loved and accepted unless you excel in math or science. Your brother is good at these things. You are not. You are good at music and art, neither of which your parents value. So your brother gets all the praise and kudos. You get very little understanding or support. Your gifts are not encouraged. So you begin to internalize the message “I’m not smart like my brother. I won’t amount to very much.”
What do you do with the core belief? How does it run your life? You might just give up on yourself very early in
life and set very low expectations of yourself. On the other hand, you might try to defy the odds and go to engineering
school in the hopes of pleasing Mom and Dad. You might be absolutely miserable there but force yourself to stay because it’s the only way to get the approval you so desperately want.
Then along comes you friend Marc who is a whiz at calculus and when the two or you are doing your homework together, he says “you know, you really aren’t very good at this…maybe you should consider a different major.” He is just trying to be helpful, and you know he is right, but his comment gets under your skin and you react to it. So you get mad at Marc and avoid seeing him for the rest of the semester.
Let’s look at your wound, your core belief and your reactive behavior pattern so we can see the whole picture.
• Your wound: mental/emotional abandonment, lack of encouragement and support from both parents, especially from daddy.
• Your belief: “I will not be loved unless I am smart (like my brother).” He gets the love. He’s daddy’s favorite. I can’t follow my heart and express my gifts or I won’t be loved.”
• Reactive Behavior: Run away/ withdraw from Marc when he shows up as the Whiz Kid (your brother) and triggers your Core belief.
Reactive Behavior Patterns
There are three types of reactive behavior patterns:
• Fight: you attack others back.
• Flight: You run away from others.
• Hide: You stay but withdraw/shut down emotionally.
These are the ways you react when you are triggered by other people. You may have one, two or all three of these patterns. Often, you copy the ones your parents had. If is important to get clear on which patterns you have and where you learned them. Take some time to reflect on this is your journal. It is important.
Why Affirmations Don’t Reverse our Core Beliefs
There are many new age pundits who suggest that you can change your core belief at will. You can go from being a loser to a winner just by saying “I am a winner” over and over in your mind.
Now, I don’t mean to suggest that there is no power in positive thinking. There is, and I encourage you to be as positive as you can be. But many new age ideas are one-dimensional and have no grasp of the power of the shadow to shape our lives. They ignore the unconscious, more primitive aspect of the psyche and, as such, have no transformative power. They are ineffective in helping us heal at depth and get our lives on track.
Suppose, for example, that you are a woman who consciously holds the belief “I am a child of God” and repeats
that constantly as an affirmation in your life. As a child, your father sexually abused you and you went on to become a
sexual object for a series of men believing you would be loved only if you had sex with them. Of course, that strategy did not work, and every time a man left you behind, your shame and humiliation deepened.
If you are honest about how that little girl inside you feels — the girl who never grew up emotionally or gained any
confidence in or respect for herself as a woman — you would realize that she would not say, “I feel like a child of God.” She would say something like, “I suck. I hate myself and nobody will ever really love me.” And you know what? She would be telling the truth. That’s how she really feels.
So you can walk around wearing your spiritual mask saying “I am a child of God,” but it isn’t going to help the little girl heal. It isn’t going to help her grow up and gain confidence and respect so that she can attract a good relationship with a man. All it is going to do is set her up, over and over again, for pain and disappointment.
When the affirmation “I am a child of God” does not work, you are going to feel like a failure. You are going to reinforce your shame and unworthiness and continue to believe that you can never do anything right.
That’s when you will be ready to put the affirmation aside for a while and come and do your real healing. Unless
you identify your wound, your core belief and your reactive behavior pattern, you cannot begin to heal at depth and come into your true power and purpose as a human being.
You are a child of God. That is the truth. But you have to do your emotional healing to begin to believe it. And until
you believe it, from the inside out, it won’t really be true for you.
Ancestral Wounds: Understanding the Chain of Abuse
It is a fact of life that our parents pass their wounds/beliefs/ reactive behavior patterns onto us, and we pass our wounds/beliefs/reactive behavior patterns onto our children. This pattern continues until someone in the family becomes conscious of the wound and heals it.
As adults we frequently marry someone just like the parent who wounded us the most. If it was Mommy, we marry
Mommy. If it was Daddy, we marry Daddy. That way we get another chance to heal our mommy and daddy wound.
However, there is another way that the wound can be passed down. If we have a mommy wound, but Mommy is
too scary, we may marry Daddy instead, because he is less scary to us. So in this case we become Mommy and marry
Daddy. On the other hand, if we have a daddy wound and Daddy is too scary, we may marry Mommy instead. In this
case, we become Daddy and marry Mommy.
Needless to say, all of this happens regardless of the whether the Mommy or Daddy we marry is male or female. Sometimes a woman marries a man who is Mommy and a man marries a woman who is Daddy. This makes it a little difficult to sort out. But a little introspection usually brings clarity.
If you are old enough to have children or grandchildren, you can see how these patterns continue in your family. You can trace the wound/belief/reactive behavior down through the generations.
On the other hand, please take care not to go into your head around this process. Our goal here is our own emotional healing and empowerment, not a precise intellectual understanding of the patterns. Sometimes intellectualizing this material prevents us from feeling it and healing it. So a word here to the wise: “Heal it first; study it later.”
Teaching Video Step Five
Homework for Step Five
Important Questions to Ask Yourself
- Who triggers you the most? Does this person in any way remind you of mommy or daddy?
- What is your mommy wound? What is the fear or shame (unworthiness) arising from this wound?
- What is your daddy wound? What is the fear or shame (unworthiness) arising from this wound?
- Did your wound come from siblings or other family members or from someone outside your family?
- Was your wound an event or circumstance like an accident or serious illness?
- What is your core belief? What judgments about you did you internalize growing up?
- Did your core belief come from Mommy, Daddy, or from both?
- Your Core belief is false, yet it drives your behavior and your experience of life. Can you see this?
- How has your core belief influenced the major decisions you have made in your life?
- What is your reactive behavior pattern?
- Did you learn it from Mommy, from Daddy, or from both?
- Did you marry Mommy or Daddy?
- Did you become Mommy and marry Daddy?
- Did you become Daddy and marry Mommy?
- Did this pattern change in your subsequent marriages/ relationships?