How We Soothe Our Inner Wounds
In my note on shielding, I mentioned that once a person has set up a working array of shields to protect themselves, they will move to the next step, which is to find ways of soothing their inner wound, in order to lessen the pain.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to soothe an inner wound, except when it is taken too far, and the compulsion to soothe ends up skewing your life path in ways you otherwise would not have wanted.
In this note I’d like to list the more common methods of soothing, as an aid to reflection and insight.
Soothing comes in many forms:
Drugs and Alcohol
The most common form of soothing is with a drug — alcohol to varying degrees, overuse of prescription medications, and abuse of illegal drugs.
When a person overuses drugs and alcohol, the overuse problem itself is often clear. What is less clear is the exact nature of inner wound which is causing the pain to begin with.
In fact, one’s soothing and numbing is often used as a way to specifically avoid acknowledging the inner wound at all — it is so deep and painful that even looking at it internally is unbearable.
This will often lead to a downward cycle, because the abuse of drugs and alcohol will often come with its own shame and negativity attacks from society — entirely apart from the original wound that drove the need for soothing in the first place.
We then have a new wound on top of the original wound — and the need for even more soothing and numbing.
Sex and Relationships
In a similar way, sex is often used as another form of numbing — both the physical pleasure as a soothing mechanism, but also the emotional validation of being “wanted and accepted” by another person, even if only briefly.
Rapidly jumping from romance to romance — for the soothing thrill of “falling in love” over and over again, is another variation of this kind of numbing.
Overwork is another kind of soothing where the validation of “being very busy” (and therefore important and needed) is used to numb the pain of an inner wound of self-negativity.
This can come in the form of overwork in one’s professional career, but can also come in other areas, like spreading oneself too thinly into volunteering commitments or even physical working out.
The beauty of overwork as a soothing method is that it is virtually unassailable: You are doing good work, helping other people, getting fit, getting ahead and making money — so what’s the problem!?!? :)
The answer is that there is only a problem if you feel unhappy — if you feel happy and fulfilled as you are, then keep going, there is no problem!
If however you feel trapped and unfulfilled in the midst of all your hectic activity, then you can reflect on whether “overwork” is actually a kind of subtle numbing which is covering a deeper wound. And the only point of realizing this is so that you can get in there and heal it, so you can move forward with your life with true freedom and self-determination — and not as a slave to your wound and the need to soothe it.
Overwork, if it is indeed a problem, will often be paired with the shielding methods of perfectionism, prestige and money, and people-pleasing.
Food is a tremendously powerful factor in our lives, and as such it can be used nourish, strengthen and heal — but it can also be used to soothe and numb to an excessive degree.
The pleasure of food can come into play as a powerful soother as much as any other drug, and can lead to overeating, obesity and other health issues. Obesity can also come with its own additional self-negativity, on top of the original wound one was trying to soothe with excessive food.
The power of food can also come into play with perfectionism, where the perfection of body image leads to too little food being used as both a soothe and a shield at the same time.
What you can do
As with shielding, the point here is not that any of these things — alcohol/drugs, sex/relationships, hard work, food — is bad in themselves — obviously they are not.
The problem only comes when they are being used excessively to soothe the pain of an inner wound, to the point where the wound itself — and the need to soothe it — is now running your life.
Like with shielding, there are two ways to approach the issue.
The first is to reflect on how you are already soothing in your life, and then to try and actively manage your array of soothing methods, so that no one method becomes addictive or dangerous. If the point is to soothe your wound, then really, any soother will suffice — it does not have to be a dangerous one, and it does not have to be an addictive one.
No one is saying it is wrong to soothe. It’s a real thing, we all do it, and it’s fine. Soothe as you need, but — do it safely and wisely.
But if your inner self-negativity is to the degree where you are even ok with hurting yourself in your method of soothing, then the only other path is the second approach: to try and heal the underlying inner wound that is driving you to soothe in the first place — to identify it, retrace how you got it, and then find a way to heal it.
Much of my work is devoted to helping this process.
The beauty of learning how to self-heal an inner wound is that it frees you to live your life without the need for excessive soothing — because you have healed your wound, it no longer hurts, and so you no longer need to soothe it.
Food is just food again, work is just work. Drugs, alcohol and meaningless relationships fall away from the path of your life.
Imagine what you would do if you didn’t have to soothe anymore, and spend so much of your single, precious life consumed by these purely numbing pursuits — imagine what you’d do with all that extra time and energy!
I have imagined this a lot.
And one thing’s for sure: You’d finally have the freedom, time and ability to find and follow your bliss — and fulfill your true life’s purpose.
For the benefit of not just yourself, but for the benefit of the life of the entire world all around you.
These are the rewards of healing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this note. You can comment and reply here, or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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