Don’t Be a Wounded Healer

wounded healer

There is a lot of confusion about the Healer Archetype. Some think that it’s a life path. They think of themselves as wounded healers and use that as fuel to understand and tend to the suffering of others. The Healer is not that. Archetypal energy belongs to all people, not a select few.

Some feel that the wounded healer is a mark of spirituality. They were selected to bear a wound that never heals. This suffering makes them feel more deeply, makes them more sensitive, and more highly evolved. The wounded healer is the shadow of the healer. As such it is the part of us that needs to be brought into the light so that we can use it grow. It’s not a perpetual or special state.

To clear up the confusion, let’s look at the Healer. (Some call this archetype the Magician or Mage). Here is a snapshot.

Super Power: transformational power, personal power, ability to heal
Motivation: to make things better, to grow beyond
Challenge: overcome fear of power, wield power wisely, egotism, creating cult followers, disconnecting from reality, using power to keep others down or subservient
Shadow: manifesting negative outcomes, pretending to be more powerful or capable than you are; having power but withholding it; manifesting negativity, turning positives into negatives; belittling others, causing or enjoying others’ difficulties
Growth points: experiencing healing or noticing synchronicities; following inspiration with action to make dreams come true; consciously blending the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual to live or create change

Let me give you an example of the Wounded Healer. My first dance teacher used to use a lot of exaggerated praise. She didn’t focus on skills or technique. She praised the person for being beautiful. Often the students didn’t get this anywhere else in their lives so they came to depend on her for this. She used praise as a carrot to keep them devoted to her while holding back teaching techniques that would make them accomplished dancers. On the surface, she appeared to be a healer, but in reality, she really wasn’t.

Another example is a dance colleague who cloaked insults in constructive criticism. As soon as a student would show initiative or promise, she’d send self esteem destroying words her way to knock her down. However, her manner was so pleasant and sweet that the student trusted her and doubted herself.

I saw an article that was titled something like Ten Things That Show You are a Wounded Healer. They were all signs of codependence that were written in a way that made them seem positive. Codependence is absolutely a sign of the Wounded Healer; however, it’s not desirable or sexy. The Healer energy is about learning to stand in your personal power in a healthy way. With codependence, your worth relies on the opinion of someone else.

Whether you are a nurse or a babysitter, you have Healer energy. This energy exists to help you on your journey through life. You may also use it to help family members or friends just in the daily comings and goings of life. You may use it professionally. The primary purpose is to help yourself.

We are all wounded. There is the first childhood wound. Many more follow. Each wound gives us the opportunity to go into it and strengthen our true self or hide into the shadows. When we hide in the shadows, we weaken our power and deny the transformation. Trying to work from this place doesn’t allow us to help others very effectively nor ourselves.

When we are diminished, we often say, “I can’t wait to get back to the way I was.” That’s limited thinking because being the person we were is what allowed the wounding to happen in the first place. The Healer is the juice that helps us to squarely face the lesson, walk through it, and use it to transform us into something greater.

The experience then becomes our teacher and we become our own healer. Even when something else is involved – a doctor, book, therapist, or medicine – we must participate in and allow our own healing. When we give our power to others, the healing is incomplete. The wound may heal, but the energy that spawned it still exists. This means it will simply manifest again in another form later.

The Wounded Healer is the pretender. When it’s on the low side, the Wounded Healer withholds healing or uses the healing power to create negative things like dependence. When it’s on the overactive side, the Wounded Healer may pretend to be more skilled or resourceful than he is. This energy provides us with the excuse to stay where we are.

Wounds hurt. They can heal when we stop giving them energy and allow them to create scars. For emotional wounds, start with acceptance and being nonjudgmental. If you need to do something, follow through. Keep doing your part until the wounding is behind you. It takes mindfulness, surrender, acceptance, and perseverance. You can do it.

 

Are You A Functional Wounded Child?

functional wounded child

What’s a functional wounded child, you say? Well, have you heard of a functional alcoholic? This is a person who is addicted to alcohol but is able to hide it by appearing to be able to do what needs to be done in life. A functional wounded child is much the same. This person may have a job, a relationship, and even be really successful. He just habitually acts from a place of woundedness. This keeps him from being as Effective, connected, or happy as he could be because his lens is clouded by pain. So, you don’t have to be disabled or struggling to be in your Wounded Child energy. You could be a functional Wounded Child.

A Look at the Inner Child

To put this into perspective, let’s take a look at the Inner Child. We all have an Inner Child. It’s an archetype, meaning that it’s energy that belongs to all mankind. All Inner Children experience wounding. It doesn’t matter if you had a great childhood or a challenging one. The wounds can be as minor as not feeling like you got enough attention to full on abuse. It can be intentional or unintentional. Being wounded says nothing about who you are or how you were parented. It just means you are in the flow of life. Life’s not always easy.

This wounding is necessary to grow us to the next phase. When negotiated well, it takes us from weakness to strength, victimhood to empowerment, disconnected to connection, and so on. When we don’t have the knowledge, support, strength, or resources to get through the challenge well, we get stuck there and function from our woundedness.

The Wounded Child cannot be escaped. It is part of the Inner Child. We live in a dualistic universe. All things have two poles: masculine and feminine, positive and negative, yin and yang. This is a way for things to find balance and flexibility. So, the goal is not to escape or annihilate your Wounded Child, but to use the wounding to grow.

Am I Acting from My Wounded Child?

Here are some tell tale signs that you may be acting (or perhaps living) from your Wounded Child energy.

  • You feel chronically depressed.
  • Trust issues keep you socially isolated.
  • You trust everyone then get surprised when someone turns out to be untrustworthy.
  • Your best friends are animals.
  • People seem to have it in for you. You’re always taken advantage of or have the rug pulled out from under you.
  • You like being in Nature better than being with people.
  • Additive behaviors are a problem for you.
  • You never seem to get ahead.
  • Relationships are rocky.
  • You’re never satisfied.
  • You feel like you have been cursed. Nothing works out for you.
  • Your self esteem is in the toilet.
  • Holidays bring out the worst in you.
  • Your parents treat you like a child.
  • People pleasing comes easy to you. You often put others before yourself.
  • Your inner critic is never shuts up.
  • “What’s wrong with me?” is something you often think.
  • Perfectionism and rigidity lead to anxiety and worry.
  • Touch is not easy or comfortable.
  • Emotions are scary. You don’t like showing them or seeing other people’s.
  • Sleep has always been a problem.
  • Conflict is really scary. You avoid it at all costs.
  • It’s easier to take care of someone else than yourself.
  • You’re not sure what you think or what you want.
  • You say you are going to do something to avoid saying no, then you don’t do it.
  • Most of your time is spent doing things you don’t want to do.
  • Going along to get along is a way of life.
  • Fear of abandonment keeps you in unhealthy relationships.
  • Your “family” are not blood relatives.
  • Being alone is worse than being with someone you don’t like or have anything in common with.

It’s a Matter of Degree

It’s normal to have a few of these. Context matters too. If you agree with a lot of these and your whole life is impacted chances are you are acting out of your Wounded Child. This is not great because your Wounded Child is pulling your strings. He doesn’t have the wisdom to choose wisely so you end up feeling hurt over and over again.

If you agree with some of these and your life is relatively under control, you’re probably acting like a Functional Wounded Child. It’s not bad, but it’s not great because you’re not fully aware. This can lead to poor decisions and confusion because you don’t see how you’re creating your own problems.

If your “yeses” are situational, meaning that when X happens, it triggers a wounded response, you’re probably just normal. We all do that! It is still a signal that you have work to do, but the work is around an issue rather than a lifestyle.

So What Do I Do Now?

The bad news is, if you’re acting like a functional Wounded Child, your decisions are not going to be all that Effective because you’re seeing the world through a dirty lens. It’s time to clean the lens.

The good news is, if you are acting like a functional Wounded Child, that means you have some skills and resources and can help yourself. You’ve already come a long way. You just have to keep going. If you’re living in this space, you probably are going to need some help. Knowing the difference is the first step in moving out of this space and into a place of wellness.

So, the next step in dealing with any Shadow is to bring it out of the Shadows! You can’t work with what is hidden. If you’re reading this and saying, “Hey, that’s me!” then we’re already doing that.

And just for some perspective, we all get in this energy sometime. Like I said before, it’s part of being in the Wheel of Life. We get the same lessons over and over again either to have a chance to grow beyond them, or to experience them at a deeper level. There is nothing shameful about being here. In fact, if you normalize it by laughing and saying to yourself. “Oh, that’s just my Inner Child wanting my attention again” it may help you to put it in its proper perspective.

Next is to move into it. Our natural inclination is to put it back in the shadows or run from it because it’s painful. That keeps it unresolved. Another thing we like to do is try to ignore it. That just strengthens it. Instead you might see it as a little you. Then ask your little self, “Hey, Mini Me. What is it that you need right now?” Maybe you need validation, safety, to feel special, to receive, to give, or to have some fun. Give yourself that. When your Mini Me is satisfied, turn to the triggering issue and look at it again. Your fresh eyes may help you to see something new.

The Inner Child’s job is to keep us in a place of wonder where life is a beautiful surprise. In this place, you’re curious. You grow and connect. You explore and expand. When you’re in Shadow, all that shuts down. So give your Mini Me what it needs so that the Inner Child can do all the things it does to make life wonderful. When the Inner Child is scared or not sure what to do, it can’t take you there.

If this is more than you know how to do and you need some skills, hey, that’s what I am here for. You can also check out self help books, programs, or church. This doesn’t have to be a life sentence. We can all grow beyond our present limitations. So, learn how. Life’s messy. It’s hard. And it’s also a lot more fulfilling when you have the ability to navigate through it smoothly.

 

Using Archetypes to Help Navigate Life’s Journey

archetypes

When you’re on a journey (like life), it helps to know where you are and where you are going. Carl Jung’s archetypes is a great tool for this! Archetypes are unconscious energy that is present in all people. One energy tends to dominate; however, as we move through life, different energies move to the forefront. If you understand these archetypes, you can more easily understand yourself and move more gracefully through life.

Stages of Life’s Journey

There are three stages of life’s journey: preparation, journey, and return. Preparation focuses on the Ego and development of the Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver archetypes. The Journey deals the Soul and development of the Seeker, Destroyer, Creator, and Lover archetypes. The Return targets the energy of the Self and the development of the Ruler, Magician, Fool, and Sage archetypes.

Perhaps because of the work of Freud, many people want to annihilate the Ego. They see it as a bad thing. This isn’t true. The Ego, Soul, and Self are all necessary parts of the whole. The Ego is the container of life. It’s creates the boundary between self, other, and the rest of the world. It is what separates us as beings. The Ego is where we find authenticity, power, and freedom. You can think of this as your foundation. If you don’t have a healthy Ego, it will be hard to know who you are. Your journey through life will feel like it’s being constantly sabotaged by fears. The role of the Ego is to protect the inner child.

The Soul is where the unconscious lies. It is the part of us that holds the potential for everything that could be. The Soul connects us to all that is eternal and provides us with a sense of meaning and value. The Soul’s role is to enter into the mystery. As the Soul does this, we are able to experience self knowledge, intimacy with others, and pave the way for the Self to manifest itself in tangible ways in the material world.

The Self is wholeness, integrity, and authenticity. The work is to find ways to express this in the world. The journey never ends, but spirals. As the Self strives for renewal, it enters back into the journey of the Ego to morph into a new phase of being.

The Ego Archetypes

Innocent

Core Desire: to remain in safety
Fear: Abandonment, punishment for being bad or wrong
Strategy: doing things right, denies problems or seeks to rescue
Weakness: being boring
Strength: trust, optimism, faith
Lesson: fidelity, discernment

Orphan/Regular Guy

Core Desire: regain safety, belonging
Fear: exploitation, to be left out
Strategy: to be down to earth, to have solid virtues, becomes a victim
Weakness: losing oneself to blend in, sacrifices intimacy for superficiality
Strength: empathy, lack of pretense
Lesson: Interdependence, realism

Warrior/Hero

Core Desire: to win, to prove one’s worth through courage
Fear: weakness, losing, vulnerability
Strategy: slay, dominate, confrontation, to be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Strength: courage, discipline, competence
Lesson: to fight only for what matters, vulnerability, compassion

Caregiver

Core Desire: to help and protect others
Fear: selfishness, ingratitude
Strategy: doing for others
Weakness: gives until it hurts, manipulation, martyrdom
Strength: compassion, generosity
Lesson: to give without hurting oneself

The Soul Archetypes

Seeker/Explorer

Core Desire: to search for a better life, adventure
Fear: conformity, being trapped, inner emptiness
Strategy: experiencing novelty, flee from problems
Weakness: aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Strength: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
Lesson: to be true to a deeper self (spiritual?)

Lover

Core Desire: bliss, intimacy
Fear: loss of love, being alone, being unwanted
Strategy: to become more and more physically and emotionally desirable
Weakness: people pleasing
Strength: passion, commitment, appreciation, gratitude
Lesson: self love, love of Creation

Destroyer/Rebel

Core Desire: metamorphosis
Fear: annihilation
Strategy: disrupt, destroy, shock
Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, crime
Strength: outrageousness, radical freedom
Lesson: humility

Creator/Artist

Core Desire: identity, to create things of enduring value
Fear: inauthenticity, mediocrity
Strategy: develop artistic skill
Weakness: perfectionism, ineffective solutions
Strength: individuality, creativity, imagination
Lesson: enjoy on the process rather than the end goal

The Self Archetypes

*Ruler/King

Core Desire: order, control, creating a strong, prosperous realm
Fear: chaos, being overthrown
Strategy: exercising power,
Weakness: unable to delegate, being authoritarian
Strength: leadership, responsibility
Lesson: utilizing human and other resources in harmonious ways while sharing power

Magician/Healer

Core Desire: transformation
Fear: sorcery, unintended negative consequences
Strategy: develop a vision and live by it, find constructive uses for the problem
Weakness: becoming manipulative
Strength: personal power
Lesson: align oneself with the cosmos; changing the physical by first mastering the emotional, mental and spiritual realms

Sage/Teacher

Core Desire: finding truth
Fear: deception, ignorance
Strategy: seeking information, transform the problem
Weakness: paralysis by analysis
Strength: wisdom, intelligence, skepticism, nonattachment
Lesson: attain enlightenment through detachment

*Fool

Core Desire: enjoyment, being present
Fear: dullness, not feeling alive
Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny,
Weakness: frivolity, wasting time, not serious
Strength: joy, freedom
Lesson: trust in the process, enjoy things for their own sake

I will write about each one of these in depth so be sure to check back for more information on the archetypes.

Note: Some switch the placement of the Ruler and Fool. It makes more sense to me to put the Fool at the end because of the spiral nature of cycles and growth.