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Here’s What the Term ‘Core Wounds’ Actually Means—And How to Heal From Them


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5 min


Published on:

Thu Jan 18 2024


Written by:

The Personal Development School

At The Personal Development School, one term we use all the time as part of integrated attachment theory is “core wounds.” Essentially, unresolved core wounds, which are the result of complex trauma that occurred in childhood, are responsible for many of the issues we bring to our relationships, romantic and otherwise.

That’s why reprogramming our core wounds is so essential to becoming more securely attached. But what are core wounds, exactly? And how can we heal from them? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Are Core Wounds?

Core wounds are beliefs we hold about ourselves on a subconscious level, such as “I am not good enough” or “I will be abandoned.” Core wounds are a result of emotional pain and traumatic experiences we had growing up, and they permeate our lives and impact our perceptions and actions in relation to ourselves and others.

As a child, the mind personalizes things way more than it does when we’re older. When you can’t understand something as a kid, you assign meaning to it and take it personally. This meaning becomes part of the assumptions you make about yourself, and it forms your identity.

If you grow up with a parent who is constantly criticizing you, for example, you assign meaning to that and might start thinking, “Well I must not be good enough if my parent says everything I do is wrong.

Unfortunately, as human beings, we tend to cling to negative experiences and situations over positive ones. Imagine, for example, that you’re walking down the street, and a dog starts chasing you and barking at you. You get away from the dog, but the next day, you have to walk down that same street to get to work. You’re probably not thinking about the beautiful flowers that are blooming on the sidewalk, you’re thinking about that dog that barked at you and chased you.

This is actually an evolutionary survival mechanism: If we notice the things that will potentially hurt us, we can avoid danger. But in the case of core beliefs that form as the result of painful events in childhood, that survival mechanism isn’t helpful. Our subconscious mind means well, but there are serious downsides.

Some examples of core wounds include:

  • I will be abandoned
  • I will be alone
  • I am unloved
  • I am unsafe
  • I am helpless
  • I am trapped
  • I am not good enough
  • I am bad
  • I am unseen
  • I am unheard
  • I don’t matter

Under the scope of integrated attachment theory, founded by Thais Gibson, we overlap core wounds with each attachment style.

For example, those with a fearful avoidant attachment style might have core wounds like, “I am helpless, trapped, I am abandoned, I am or will be betrayed.

Those with a dismissive avoidant attachment style may also have the feeling of being trapped or helpless in certain situations, while those with an anxious preoccupied attachment style might have core wounds like “I will be disliked,” “I will be rejected,” or “I will be excluded.

How to Heal from Core Wounds

You were not born with these core wounds, they were conditioned. The good news about that? You can reprogram them. As you fire and wire new patterns, over time, your core wounds and beliefs will become a thing of the past.

While the best way to reprogram your core wounds (and identify what they are) is through The Personal Development School’s Emotional Mastery and Belief Reprogramming Course, here are some tools and examples to help you get started.

Ask yourself what your core wounds have cost you.

The first step to reprogramming your core wounds is recognizing the negative impact they’ve had on your life so you actually want to heal from them. Pick one core wound, and ask yourself when it’s come up and how it has impacted your personal life, professional life, and anything else you want to focus on.

Become aware of how outdated your internal dialogue really is. Sometimes, we truly don’t realize how mean we’re being to ourselves until we pay attention.

Say, for example, that “I’m not good enough” is one of your core wounds—that will cause you to think thoughts about yourself like, “I’m an idiot, I’m a loser, my partner left me because I’m not smart enough, pretty enough,” and the list goes on. These thoughts and statements are incredibly cruel and not things we would ever say to other people.

Start the reprogramming process by looking at your accomplishments. Let’s stick with the “I’m not enough” example. Can you think of a time when you accomplished something big, whether at work, in a relationship, or in another area of your life that showed that you actually were enough? What difficult experiences have you made it through?

Audit and take inventory of these things. Try to feel the emotions in your body that accompany this. What have you overcome so far in the career area of your life? How has that made you better? What emotions do you feel when you think about this?

Find things that give you a boost. Notice what you’re capable of. What does it feel like to think about these things? Notice the feelings in your body. Think of pieces in your career that make you feel good enough, and notice the accompanying feelings.

Look at the financial area of your life and the responsibility you take here. Examine challenges you’ve overcome in the past to get to where you are today and the skills you have that allow you to work at that next level of life.

In order to reprogram the subconscious mind, we need repetition and emotion. So when we regularly focus on why we are good enough, what we’ve overcome and the list goes on, I can help rewire our neural pathways.

Focus on the natural abilities you have. These abilities might be intelligence-related, for example. What about you in this area of your life makes you capable or makes you good enough? What do you feel as you notice your potential mentally or intellectually? What feels possible as you pay more attention to your natural skill sets?

Look at the relationship area of your life. Notice how you are enough in terms of being a great friend and a loving partner. Notice the positive traits and qualities you have and the positive way you show up in a relationship.

Think of what comes to mind, what it would feel like to be your friend, partner, or family member, and the beautiful things your loved ones receive from you. Notice the ways you inspire, teach, or lift others up. Take full inventory of the beautiful traits and qualities you have.

Practice gratitude. Finally, sit in gratitude for the beautiful qualities you’ve noticed about yourself and the new awareness you have for the things you bring to the different areas of your life. The more you allow yourself to see this and acknowledge it, all actions will follow.

The more you do this reprogramming exercise, the more your core wounds will drift away. Eventually, they’ll be replaced by healthier thoughts, feelings, and actions.

While this is a great start, it’s also just a preview of some of the components involved in the process of reprogramming. If you want to gain a better understanding of your core wounds and begin to heal from them, be sure to take The Personal Development School’s Emotional Mastery and Belief Reprogramming Course or, even better, sign up for our All-Access Pass.

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