In our healing practice, my partner and I are often supporting clients to release their old, outmoded coping mechanisms that interfere with feeling whole. More than ever before, the ineffective nature of our old patterns has become an obvious stumbling block to our happiness. Perhaps it is because our souls are no longer willing for us to be limited and so more clearly illuminate what is holding us back.
For many people, persistent anger is a sign that inner wounds are just below the surface, ready to be revealed and healed. Persistent anger in the form of blame, holding grudges or being controlling can be a cover-up for deeper feelings such as shame, fear, and grief.
Blaming is assigning an external cause for inner pain. This is not a conscious thought, but more of an instant, irrational reaction. If every time you feel emotional pain you immediately look to assign a culprit, you are not in touch with your own deeper inner wounds or needs. Blaming is a form of distraction or diversion from the true source of pain.
People who need to create a villain in their drama or blame others often feel a hidden stigma or shame about a perceived inner defect. This may not be consciously understood as the perception may originate in very early childhood. As a result, the person “projects” or transfers anger onto others to distract themselves from feeling/knowing the truth about his or her own self. For instance, the blamer may have been born out-of-wedlock and so represent their mother’s shame, he or she may have felt responsible for the illness or death of a family member, the person may have been adopted and so perceive themselves as “disposable” or have experienced some other situation in their early childhood to create a sense of worthlessness or perceived inadequateness–resulting in low self esteem.
Whatever the circumstance, the individual was never able to establish a sense of self-importance. She or he becomes so highly sensitized to the presence of their unwanted traits–either consciously or unconsciously–that it interferes with social informational processing. In other words, the wound interferes with them seeing reality as it is and so they operate out of their misperceptions. Preoccupation with perceived wrongs by other people and judgments about others’ behavior is a clue that an inner wound is the real culprit.
Anger can be a form of protection. It can be a defensive strategy to push other people away and keep them from getting close to you. If you were hurt by people in childhood, you may have difficulty trusting others as an adult, and anger is a sure way to keep people away. The problem is that anger does not allow you to really attract or experience love or joy, because anger is a repulsive energy, which is the exact opposite of attraction. It is often difficult to give up anger as a defense mechanism as it provides an illusion of feeling temporarily powerful. This is particularly true of “righteous anger” which suggests that the person feeling this is “better” than the other. This is the ego’s attempt to regain the illusionary control. Again, it is a form of diverting attention away from deeper feelings.
When anger is used as a defense, we may even choose to keep stimulating our anger by holding grudges. Grudges fan the fire of anger as a way of trying to feel safe by feeling powerful. It is a way to attempt to control negative situations by retaining angry feelings. Indeed, grudge holding and revenge are ways of putting up walls to guard the self against further hurt. Unfortunately these walls only serve to isolate us and keep us in pain. Self-righteous anger and the choice to emotionally distance ourselves from the “problem” only perpetuates the painful cycle. Instead we would be far better off dealing with the real issue, which often lies in our childhood history.
Most of us were traumatized in some way or another during childhood and the defenses we adapted to protect us cause us to re-traumatize ourselves as adults. If our defense includes pushing people away, or distracting ourselves in an effort to not feel our old pain, we actually weave a tighter and tighter noose around ourselves. We are left feeling hollow, lonely or as though we have failed. In essence, our defense systems create situation that trigger the very feelings we are trying to protect ourselves from!
In families that have adopted this emotional pattern, even the “good” child who achieves a measure of external success, must keep running from distraction to distraction and finding someone else to blame, so that they can deny the hole they feel within themselves. Family dynamics research shows is that it is the good child – the family hero who has taken care of everyone and everything – who is often the most emotionally unaware and out of touch with himself or herself. A person with this issue may abuse substances to numb their pain or become a workaholic. In that case, the person winds up constantly trying to achieve some material success to maintain the illusion of ego control and stay in denial of his or her wounded soul.
When we try to control our feelings by assigning blame, holding grudges or controlling everyone around us, it’s like single-handedly fighting a war on our own. And it is a set up for us to lose–again and again. We are the only one responsible for our feelings. Yes, people are going to do things that cause us pain, but we can’t control that. Until we are willing to stop focusing on what they are doing and redirect our focus on our deeper inner feelings, we cannot learn what is truly hurting us. We need to delve inside to find the source of our wounds and heal them. When we take responsibility for our own emotional needs, we have more control over our life and open up pathways to true peace and contentment. You see, our essential needs are not based on what we achieve or what others can give to us, they are based on what we didn’t get as a child. As we are now adults, we are the only ones responsible for meeting those needs. We need to identify the deficits we feel inside and then learn how to remedy them. More than ever before, our souls are calling us to come to grips with our unfortunate life experiences and take full responsibility for ourselves.
Once we are aware of our deeper needs and are not so desperately at the effect of our old patterns, we can ask people to help us with getting our needs met. But we must be in touch with our own feelings and quit blaming everyone for them in order to gain this kind of control of our life and our moods. To accomplish this we can use our spiritual tools such as shamanic journeying to uncover the true source of our pain. However, sometimes we need to reach out to a healing professional to assist us in our work. This is because our initial wounding occurred through relationship and so a therapeutic relationship with a good counselor can more readily heal the pain. In these cases, traditional psychotherapy or other form of counseling can have the most benefit. We weren’t wounded in a vacuum and so we needn’t do our healing in isolation either!
Healing emotional wounds even assists our physical body to be stronger and more resilient as emotional pain is a profound stress that can contribute to physical pains, a lowered immune response and cardiovascular issues. On the other hand, the prize for those of us willing to dig in and heal our old wounds is emotional liberation, better health and a chance to truly feel the love, assurance and worthiness we desire.
© 2012 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path and the soon to be published Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.
1. You can learn the Shamanic Journey Process at our December 1 & 2 workshop. Register by going to: www.spiritpassages.com/calendar.html and clicking on the link.
2. Spirit Passages’ Shamanic Inner Body Healing TM work can both assist in identifying inner wounds AND heal them in the same session. This method, developed by us nearly two decades ago, is an excellent, spiritually grounded adjunct to traditional psychotherapeutic processes. To schedule an appointment, contact our office at True North Healing Center. 207-781-4488.