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Love and the Wounded Self

By Nancy Swisher
December 31, 2006

In this article, Nancy clearly demonstrates the tragedy that can occur when the wounded self fails to understand the difference between genuine love and "love" from the wounded self. Learn how the wounded self became so confused and what to do about it.

Shakespeare's great tragedy, King Lear, begins with Lear asking his daughters to tell him how much they love him. Two of his daughters comply; the other says she cannot quantify her love with words - that her love is more than words can say - appropriate to her bond as a daughter, no more, no less. Lear cannot feel love because his heart is closed. It is Lear's wounded self, or course, who thinks that love equals how well his daughters can articulate their love. It is his wounded self that takes the initial action. He bans the daughter who truly loves him, while giving his kingdom to the daughters who say they love him when actually all they want is his property. What makes the play a tragedy, by definition, is that Lear's awareness of what love truly is comes too late to save his life or the life of the daughter who loves him.

Lear still resonates with audiences because as human beings we are still searching for love. Our primary motivation in life is to experience love. And we too, like Lear, have a wounded self that remains confused about what love is. The good news is that Inner Bonding gives us the tools to discover what love is before it's too late! Our lives don't have to be tragic!

The wounded self gets confused about love because of what happens in our childhood. As children, we needed to be loved, to feel the divine love of Spirit. This is an evolutionary, innate need. We needed our parents to be loving adults - connected to a personal spiritual source and able to take responsibility for their feelings. We required this so that their love could reflect back to us our essence. As children, because we needed love - as a plant needs water - we interpreted however our parents were as 'loving'. So, if our parents 'loved' us when we cleaned our room, then our wounded self confuses love with neatness and order. If our parents 'loved' us when we did things perfectly - received A's, for instance - then our wounded self believes that we are only lovable if we achieve perfection. If our parents 'loved' us when we were quiet and nice, then our wounded self may think that if we speak up we won't be loved. If our parents 'loved' us when we took care of them, then our wounded self equates love with caretaking. If our parents 'loved' us when they sexually abused us, then our wounded self may equate love with sex. If our parents 'loved' us with food, then our wounded self equates love with food. And the list goes on.

Part of the exploration and healing of the wounded self is to find out, through dialogue and awareness, just how your particular wounded self defines and experiences 'love', to understand how, when you are in a wounded place, love is distorted. What the wounded self sees as love isn't really love at all. It can't be. The very nature of the wounded self is who we are when we are separate from love, when our heart is closed.

By practicing Inner Bonding daily, we begin to see this distortion for what it is. We being to realize that, for instance, perfection is not love, or caretaking is not love. All of the Inner Bonding steps open up aspects of this exploration, but the practice of consciously connecting to divine Love and bringing it into our body, where the wounded child resides, is profound. When we do this, the wounded self really can't argue anymore about what love is. She/he surrenders to Love, and in that moment healing occurs.

The classic definition of tragedy is when "awareness comes too late." I hope that in this new millennium where we have access to profound healing processes such as Inner Bonding, we no longer need the structure of tragedy in order to learn how to love.


Nancy Swisher is a Certified Inner Bonding Facilitator and writer with a private practice in western New England and by phone. 413-655-0102 or at


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