Most of us like to think that we are guided by our values, a moral code, or maybe even a higher power. But what if I told you that you may actually be guided by your invisible wounds?
Some years ago, I was coaching a leader. We were working on the familiar topic of delegation. This leader was having a hard time allowing her senior team to make decisions and while she listened to input from her team, she had difficulty taking in their counsel even when they had deep expertise where she did not. What started to surface on this team was a high level of distrust between the members and towards the leader. There was a great deal of competition to drive personal points of view and agendas. An unaligned strategy was being delivered into the organization and employees were confused by the mixed messages. Initially, I was invited in to work with the team but after doing some assessments and interviews, all arrows began pointing back to the leader.
The leader and I sat and discussed the input from the assessment and research. The themes of distrust were very deep and there was a tone of ill will that was beginning to surface. Comments like “doesn’t let me do my job”, “doesn’t value my expertise”, “is rigid in her thinking” were in the data.
When the leader and I sat down to discuss the data, she began to share that it was true – she wasn’t delegating to her team. But it wasn’t because she didn’t value and respect their expertise, it came from another part within herself. She went on to share that when she was in college, there had been a family crisis and her parents could no longer pay her college tuition. She was devastated about the thought of not completing her program and became determined to complete. She got a job and worked her way through her undergrad program and then went straight through to her masters.
One part of her was proud of her accomplishment and she realized that she was resourceful and could take care of herself. An important rite of passage for all of us. But the wound of the disappointment became buried and part of her shadow. She didn’t walk around with a grudge towards her parents but rather developed an attitude of “no one will ever control my fate”.
So it was that this wounding became a guiding principle in this person’s leadership.
Our western culture doesn’t teach us how to process our hurts and disappointments. We are kicked in the butt, told to get on with things, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and a whole host of other messages that tell us we are weak if we’re unable to push aside our hurts. As with this leader, and for all of us, these unhealed wounds can become part of our inner guidance system.
Today, like you, I am in deep grief for the innocent lives that have been lost in San Bernardino. And, while it is reasonable to look to gun control and the government to fix this, I am reflecting on the walking wounded. All the walking wounded. Not just extremists. We are all the walking wounded to some degree. It is not possible to get through this life without being hurt or disappointed. But unless you have worked with a coach or a therapist to heal those past emotional and psychological wounds, it is likely those wounds unconsciously continue to influence your actions and behaviors today.
Eight years ago this month, I realized that I carried my own wounds. I was watching a holiday movie and in one scene in this movie a note was revealed that said “T, all is forgiven. Love, Dad.” I began to sob and didn’t really know why. My dad was a violent man. He was abusive to his wife and children. But violence was not just inside my home. Like many people, I experienced violence at multiple levels of system: inside my home, outside my home and in the larger culture.
I had long prided myself in how I made different choices for my life. I married a loving and kind man. I have had several successful careers. I have wonderful sons who know they are loved. To anyone who might observe my life, there were no remnant of my beginnings. I had mastered the skill of “pulling myself up by the bootstraps”.
So how were these old wounds affecting my present life? For me, the wounds expressed themselves in how I protected myself, how I would keep others at a distance and not reveal anything personal. The scars became the rules that guided my life’s decisions. I am extremely intuitive and sensitive to energy and hyper-aware of my surroundings. When I sensed dark energy or someone trying to get too close, I would remove myself from the situation or even the relationship. I didn't wait to get hurt. I never asked for help and was extremely self-reliant. I was over protective of the people I cared about whether my family or friends or co-workers. While most of these rules took on a seemingly positive benefit for my family and others, they kept me privately disconnected from others and especially myself.
I have done much work in the past eight years to uncover and heal the wounded and disowned parts of myself. While I am still on this healing journey, I have learned what a healing process can be and the freedom and lightness that can come into our lives when we face these invisible wounds. I can be more choiceful about what Guides me now rather than unconsciously influenced by past hurts. I can decide how to align myself to my value system and the moral code by which I choose to live and not be derailed by old habits. I can hear my inner most thinking more clearly. I am able to tap more easily into my creative side and have learned to protect myself in ways that don't cut me off from myself and others. And I'm happier and have so much more inner peace.
So how do we as ordinary citizens heal the wounds left by San Bernardino and other violence that is so rampant in our world? How do we heal the planet? We begin by healing our own invisible wounds. When we heal ourselves we realize that while we are not be directly responsible for these atrocities, we are contributing to the healing that is so needed in the world. We impact the collective consciousness of which we’re all a part and for which we all share responsibility.
What is the wound that is keeping you from being guided by your values and highest self? What needs to shift in your life so that you have more clarity, peace of mind, and creative energy? How can you make inner changes that also contribute to the healing of our society and planet?
I am an integral coach and offer this kind of healing support to my clients. There are many others like me who are committed to healing ourselves and our planet: coaches, teachers, therapists, spiritual leaders, yoga teachers, and meditation teachers who can support you on your healing journey. You may not know where to begin or how to begin. Just take one step. Find a teacher, a coach, a mentor – someone who carries a light that you admire – and reach out to them. Begin to share your story and you will see how your life, too, can be healed.