Our Wounded Parts are Not Wrong: Learning to Love OurselvesBy Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
December 31, 2006
Are you struggling with loving yourself? This article will help you to compassionately embrace the part of yourself that believes there is something wrong with you.
I think a lot of the struggle that we go through in order to learn to love ourselves comes from the misconception that we have to convince a part of ourselves that thinks we are unlovable to change its mind. All this does is produce an inner argument that no one can win. For me, it helps to see all of these unloving parts as wounded kids, trying to figure out the best way to make it okay. None of these kids is bad or even unacceptable; they just don't know things that another part of you now does. They absolutely want the same thing that you do, to be okay. If I see these feelings as coming from a kid, it is not so hard for me to shift to having compassion for that kid and to see that she needs my help. She has some false beliefs that need healing. This is not the same as convincing her she is wrong. Making this wounded part "wrong" just makes her feel even more unlovable. Only if this wounded kid feels your compassion and feels that you are willing to understand the good reasons for the belief and how that belief made things more okay can you begin to help her. In a way, you are making her "right." For example, I was stunned to realize that I believed that I was supposed to suffer. I was totally willing to be in a marriage where I was suffering much of the time. It is obvious now that the wounded part of me that was in charge of life was not treating me in a very loving way! But she had good reasons. When I was little, my parents totally believed that suffering was good for you. If I wanted anything, I had to suffer first. Then (maybe but not necessarily) I would get it. If I had been able to love myself and realize, as I do now, that God does not want people, including me, to suffer, my life would have been unbearable. There is nothing unlovable about a child who had to make the best of that situation. There is nothing unlovable about any of your kids either. They were just trying to make the best of things using only the limited knowledge of a child.
The part of you that brings love to yourself is not a wounded child part. Just as you developed new parts of yourself at different ages, based on things that you decided, when you started to do Inner Bonding, you started to grow another new part based on a decision to learn about loving yourself. And the most basic thing that this loving adult has to decide is that you are not and never were "bad" or "unlovable." So, if you get any messages that you are unlovable, these messages are, by their very nature, from wounded kids who need your help. If you can hold this awareness, you are off to a good start in truly learning to love yourself.
However, one of the things that can often happen, and happened to me, is that instead of developing a real loving adult, we develop a new version of ourselves that is trying to do Inner Bonding from a wounded place. That part, rather than coming to the younger parts with compassion and a desire to know the good reasons for the beliefs, comes with the desire to know what the beliefs are in order to fix the problem, to have control over it. That part says "There is something wrong with you because you have false beliefs," instead of asking spirit "How can I bring her love?" That part makes the wounded kids wrong and defective. Inner Bonding does not happen from that place, because the false beliefs will actually be true as long as we do not change the inner situation. That situation, fundamentally, is that there is no loving, caring inner parent around. As I write this, I try to imagine what would have helped when I was so stuck, and what I keep hearing is "Compassion." Compassion is a litmus test of whether I am coming from woundedness, but also I needed compassion for the wounded part of me that was trying her best to do Inner Bonding right. I needed to make my highest priority shifting to compassion rather than solving the problem. The challenge, then, is to become aware, without judgment, when we are in compassion for ourselves and others and when we are seeing ourselves (and others) as wrong or defective. In order to help develop a loving adult, we need to deeply understand that, no matter how logical the information about our lack of worth seems, it cannot ever come from our loving adult selves and this realization must be followed with compassion for that part that does believe it.
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What nurtures you? Do you feel nurtured by being out in nature? By doing something creative? By sitting quietly and listening to music or reading or watching a movie? By being with caring friends? By being physically active - hiking, playing a sport, or gardening? By meditating, journaling, practicing Inner Bonding? By playing fun games? By playing a musical instrument? Today, be sure to create balance in your life by nurturing yourself.
By Dr. Margaret Paul