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Core Wounds of The Fearful Avoidant

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6 min

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Published on:

Wed Mar 06 2024

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The Personal Development School

You might have seen the term "core wounds" when reading about the fearful avoidant attachment style.

It's a fundamental concept because it's essential to helping people overcome their fears and barriers to change their insecure attachment style from fearful avoidants to securely attached.

Fearful avoidants (you can read a detailed definition about them now) are known to have some quite intense core wounds, coming from both anxious preoccupied and dismissive avoidant attachment styles.

That's why it's crucial to understand where core wounds come from, how they impact fearful avoidants, and how to heal and manage them.

The first step is to look at where core wounds come from…

What are Core Beliefs?

Core beliefs are subconscious beliefs that we form about ourselves.

They are developed through repetition and emotional subconscious programming.

The more a person experiences an event (traumatic or memorable) or emotion (sad or happy), the more likely they'll develop it in their subconscious mind, creating a core belief.

Here's an example:

Joey suffers from social anxiety. As a child, he was constantly made fun of, making him feel like an outsider.

This constant repetition and emotional impact made him think of himself: "I do not belong here. Everyone is judging me. I look ridiculous."

As an adult, when he walks into a room, he thinks these same thoughts on autopilot -- meaning they arise automatically in his conscious mind.

If someone is engaged in a conversation and glances in his direction with a frown, he assumes they are talking about him even when they aren’t.

That's the power of a core belief. And when a core belief is negative, it becomes a core wound.

What are Core Wounds?

Your reality comprises core beliefs about yourself; if they are negative beliefs, they are known as core wounds.

They take the form of "I am..." statements, including:

  • I will be abandoned
  • I will be alone
  • I am unloved
  • I am unsafe

Now, because they're just like regular cuts and bruises, core wounds hurt people on an emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical level.

They are a result of emotional pain and traumatic experiences we had growing up.

It could be anything from being told by parents that "we weren't good enough" or, like Joey, thinking we're not part of any group.

It develops and impacts our perceptions and actions concerning ourselves and others.

It becomes part of your identity.

That's why, as a child, people develop coping mechanisms to handle core wounds when triggered.

However, as an adult, those coping mechanisms don't work anymore. That's why adults struggle with past experiences, which influence their relationships and lives.

The thing is, there is little we can do about stopping the development of core wounds.

But we weren't born with these core wounds; they were conditioned.

You can reprogram your core wounds, thereby changing your coping mechanisms and habits.

But to do that, first, you must know your core wounds.

Unsurprisingly, core wounds are very reflective of a person's attachment style.

As you will see with the fearful avoidant, they have specific core wounds that only they could develop due to their upbringing.

Core Wounds of the Fearful Avoidant

The fearful avoidant attachment style lies between dismissive avoidant and anxious preoccupied attachment styles.

That means that fearful avoidants tend to swing to both sides of these attachment styles, exhibiting both dismissive and anxious characteristics, traits, and, yes, core wounds.

A great example of fearful avoidant dynamics is their upbringing and current approach to relationships.

Fearful avoidants have experienced trauma in their childhood, making them desire an emotional and positive relationship (anxious), yet associate it with betrayal (dismissive), resulting in the classic “hot and cold” fearful avoidant pattern.

As such, they tend to look after themselves and usually take on the role of caregiver, making them a highly empathetic and simultaneously vigilant adult.

In many ways, they have unpredictable behavior,

Other overlapping traits include:

  • Being very present with others (anxious)
  • Charming (anxious)
  • Likable (anxious)
  • Generous in close relationships (anxious)
  • Be hypervigilant for betrayal (dismissive)
  • Intense (dismissive)
  • Hot-and-cold (dismissive)
  • Suspicious (dismissive)

All these lead to them developing powerful core wounds that affect how they see themselves and their relationships.

Their core wounds ultimately overlap with both the anxious preoccupied’s fear of abandonment and the dismissive avoidant’s aversion to emotional connection.

If you are a fearful avoidant or dating one, here are the most powerful unresolved core wounds you might have about yourself:

  • I will be betrayed
  • I am not safe
  • I am unworthy
  • I am bad
  • I will be abandoned
  • I am trapped
  • I am helpless
  • I am not good enough
  • I am disrespected
  • I am unloved
  • I am weak when I am overly emotional or available to others

How to Heal Your Fearful Avoidant Core Wounds

As we discussed before, the most powerful way to overcome the influence of your core wounds (and ultimately your belief system) is to reprogram them.

Now, that might seem challenging, but it's quite easy in reality.

Here are some tools to help get your journey started.

Understand how core wounds are affecting your life

The first step is to identify your core wounds. Just because you're a fearful avoidant doesn't mean you have all of them. You might have one, two, or three.

To determine which have you have, do the following:

  • Create a goal for each of the seven areas (Career, Financial, Mental, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, and Relationships)
  • Identify your fears and limiting beliefs about completing those goals in each area.
  • Investigate your perceptions about these fundamental aspects of life and within your interactions. These can include: Relationships, Marriage, Commitment, Your Needs, Your Partner and their needs, Conflict, Communication, and Trust.

Use the BTEA Equation The BTEA equation works by backtracking your actions from a triggering event to recognize your beliefs, helping you find your core wound.

For example:

  • Identify the triggering event (e.g., you fought with your partner).
  • Recognize your action or coping mechanism (e.g., You went from being very "hot” to very “cold” about the relationship and became spiteful).
  • Label the emotion you felt when engaged in that event (e.g., angry and betrayed)
  • Untangle the thoughts (e.g., consider what you thought about yourself during this interaction).
  • Establish your core wounds (e.g., assess the beliefs about yourself during that moment and focus on which one you want to reprogram -- I am disrespected).

Feel free to use the table below to get started!

fearful avoidant core wounds

Challenge your core wounds' perceptions By isolating your subconscious core beliefs in a situation, you can work to find a challenging perception of that story.

Let's look at the exercisxe and use the "I am disrespected" core wound.

  • Write down your interpretation of it (e.g., how you perceived the event)
  • Think of the opposite story of that core wound (e.g., you were not disrespected)
  • Provide supporting proof of that opposite story (e.g., your partner was just giving advice, not disrespecting you. Just look at your history)

This should help you challenge your perceptions and help build coping mechanisms when triggered by these core wounds.

Update your coping strategies Consider your coping mechanism when triggered by a core wound, and then try to find a way to switch it.

  • Write down your autopilot coping mechanism (e.g., You went from very "hot” to very “cold” about your partner and became spiteful)
  • Updated the mechanism to ensure you get what you want (e.g., you felt you needed to cool down, so do exercise)

Start reprogramming rituals By working on reprogramming your beliefs every day, you can isolate and profoundly change your core wounds.

  • Find 10-15 examples of where, why, and how you are doing enough to change your core wounds.
  • Check in with the seven areas of life to find 1-3 more examples.
  • Try to feel the emotion in your body and anchor it into the nervous system when thinking of your response.

The more you do this, the more you'll be able to reprogram your core wounds, become less triggered, and be able to develop and form lasting relationships.

Taking the First Step as a Fearful Avoidant

While this is a great start, it’s also just a few exercises that can reprogram and heal your fearful avoidant core wounds.

The result by taking these steps is that you'll embrace self-love, remove your low self-esteem and self-sabotage patterns, develop self-compassion while recovering from any painful events that created grief, depression, and deep sadness in your entire life.

You'll also help form better connections in your adult life, helping you overcome lonliness, and find the mutual support you deserve.

If you want to better understand 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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