By Corinne Farago
No matter how well we were parented, cared for, and protected, every one of us grows into an adult carrying emotional wounds that formed negative beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
Some of us experienced wounding in our family home. We may have been intentionally wounded by bullies on the playground, or unintentionally wounded by friends. Our trust may have been broken, or our confidence in ourselves undermined.
Life is full of wounding experiences, and some of them leave indelible marks on our heart and psyche that continue to infiltrate our lives and relationships.
A common theme for many of us is insecurity surrounding our competence and abilities. Maybe someone told us we weren’t good enough at something, or made fun of our skillset to accomplish a task like a painting, or a math problem, running a race, or even sharing a joke. We may have questioned if we’re popular enough or whether our personality is likeable.
We may have wounds around what our bodies look like.
Are we attractive and desirable?
Does our body work the same way most people’s work?
Is our sexual preference or identity acceptable?
Are we ‘normal’?
In other words, are we enough, just as we are, to be accepted and loved?
When two people get together to form a relationship, there are two sets of wounds merging and intertwining, our partner’s and our own.
Two sets of well-worn, entrenched wounds that every couple will have to contend with if they’re going to form a lasting, loving, relationship. Our combined wounds will inevitably play a lead role in our arguments. Our wounds will be exposed. They’ll get poked, and bumped by the person we trust the most.
We know when our old wounds are being dragged into a conflict because our pain and defensiveness will suddenly spike. If our partner is speaking the same words as our inner abuser, the armor will go up, and disagreements will escalate into shouting, tearful battles.
It’s in these moments of heightened emotions, we can suspect that, one or both partners are being triggered by old wounds. The negative stories that come with them, can be reduced to two universal beliefs, “I’m not good enough,” and “You don’t love me.”
As two individuals, who have committed to one another in a relationship, we have the power to hurt our partner by poking at their old wounds, or heal our partner by tending to those wounds.
Here are 3 things you can do today to gain insight into your partner’s wounds and begin a healing process:
1. Sit down together when you’re both feeling calm, and talk about what old wounds hold you back in love and life.
Ask them to share the story behind one of their early wounds.
What happened? How did it make them feel?
Here are some underlying feelings that old wounds may bring up:
- Feeling disrespected
- Feeling alone and lonely
- Feeling excluded
- Feeling judged and misunderstood
- Feeling bullied
- Feeling abandoned
- Feeling attacked and afraid
- Feeling guilty and regretful
What is the negative inner dialogue or belief that comes from that incident?
- I can’t trust anyone to be there for me
- I’m not smart enough
- I’m not attractive enough
- The world is not a safe place
- People will hurt me or leave me
- I’m not worthy of love
Remember, most of our deep inner wounds are experienced as younger people.
They don’t necessarily have to make sense today. The negative story may sound silly or be embarrassing to even admit.
By speaking our stories out loud, and confessing the origin of our wounds, we help to objectify them, and see them for what they are; old stories and beliefs, that no longer serve us.
2. Ask your partner to consider how these wounded beliefs get triggered in your conflicts.
Ask questions that help your partner gain insight into their emotional triggers that stem from old wounds. By better understanding the fears and needs of our partner’s younger self, we can avoid poking their wounds and escalating disagreements.
3. Make an agreement to help heal each other’s wounds with words and actions that serve as a healing balm. What can you do as a loving partner to help them rewrite that old story?
We can help our partner rewrite their old, negative stories, by using words and phrases that counter their beliefs.
Using words to heal
The more you understand the nature of your partner’s wounds, the more specific you can be in delivering the right words and phrases to counter their inner dialogue, and help heal those wounds.
Here are some general themes and phrases to give you an idea of what I mean:
What do they need to hear when they feel insecure about their competence?
- “I know you can do it.”
- “I admire so many of your skills.”
- “I love how capable you are.”
What do they need to hear if they’re insecure about their body?
- “You look beautiful tonight.”
- “You’re perfect to me, just the way you are.”
- “I’m so attracted to you.”
What do they need to hear if they’re insecure about their identity or personality?
- “I respect your values.”
- “You don’t have to be like anyone else. You’re perfect right now.”
- “You’re so funny. I love your sense of humor.”
What do they need to hear if they’re insecure about abandonment during conflict?
- “I’ll never threaten to leave the relationship in a heated moment.”
- “I’m taking a time out, but I’ll be back in 30 minutes to connect and talk.”
- “Even if we disagree about something, you come first in my life.”
Supportive phrases that build our partner up can get lost in our busy day-to-day lives together. Don’t assume your partner doesn’t need to hear words that soothe their insecurities.
No matter how strong and capable we present ourselves as adults, every one of us carries the pain of old emotional wounds that can trigger our pain and undermine our happiness.
When we share our wounds with our partner, we’re demonstrating mutual trust, and with that trust, we deepen our intimacy and connection.
As couples committed to each other’s personal growth, we have the unique power to heal our partner of their inner struggles and undermining beliefs, that took form long before they met us.
This is ‘love in action’, and this is the sacred potential and purpose of every intimate relationship.
As an online Relationship and Intimacy Coach I work with couples who want to heal their personal wounds, so they can deepen their intimacy.
If you want to find out more, set up a 15 min. Discovery Call today and get all your questions answered.