Healing Our Inner Wounds

Healing Our Inner Wounds

Explore sage advice and a powerful 12-minute guided meditation from psychotherapist Andrea Wachter that can help you embrace your emotions and experience healing and relief.

Everyone has been emotionally wounded. No one makes it to adulthood without experiencing fear and pain, and few of us consistently received the compassion and comfort we needed to feel safe and soothed during our most challenging times. Most of us have endured significant loss, grief, rejection, abandonment, humiliation, illness, injustice, and more without knowing how to meet and treat those emotions. The good news is that we all have the capacity to heal our emotional wounds, and the first step is to bring them into the light of our awareness.

“Repressed emotional wounds live on in our minds and nervous systems and can affect us in many ways,” explains psychotherapist and meditation teacher Andrea Wachter. “Our emotional pain and repetitive thought patterns can often be traced back to our early wounds, and they can also contribute to chronic conditions such as persistent anxiety, depression, substance abuse, disordered eating, physical pain, and a myriad of illnesses.”

Wachter believes that one of the most important life skills we can develop is the ability to turn toward our wounded parts in a conscious, compassionate manner. “Our emotional wounds are crying out for attention, but most of us habitually turn away from them because of shame or fear of becoming emotionally overwhelmed. We scold ourselves when we have big feelings and try to shut them down. But our feelings need to be felt and validated, and when we offer ourselves acceptance and comfort during this process, our wounds can begin to heal.”

Strengthening Our Connection with Our Wisest Inner Self

We all have a wise, compassionate inner self that is capable of patiently tending to our wounded parts with love and acceptance. “Some of us need help tapping into this compassionate wisdom, but once we do, we can learn to consistently care for ourselves in the way a devoted parent tends to a child who is hurting. We can begin to establish a safe haven within ourselves that we can always return to.

To strengthen our connection with our wisest inner self, Wachter says we need to slow down and turn our attention inward. In this fast-paced, plugged-in world, it’s easy to ignore our “intuitive channel”—the wise, heart-centered part of us that knows what we need, be it food, rest, a good cry, fresh air, or help from a supportive person.

“Our wisest inner self is quiet, so when we’re overly busy, lost in obsessive thoughts, or relying on technology or substances for distraction, it’s hard to hear it. Initially, our wise inner self may not be the loudest voice on the block, but when we listen for it, we discover that it’s always there, just like the sky is always there, even if it’s cloudy or filled with weather patterns. Over time, the more we listen to our innate wisdom, the clearer it becomes.”

Tending to Our Wounded Parts

Wachter helps people tune in, connect with their innate wisdom, and identify the parts of themselves in need of attention and compassion. “We can encourage an unresolved emotional wound or painful memory to surface, and then offer it acknowledgment, compassion, and love. As our wounded parts express their pain, our wisest self can respond by offering empathy and explaining what it knows to be the truth from the perspective it has today.”

Different wounds need different forms of comfort. “Do what feels right. For example, you can imagine gathering the wounded part of yourself into your arms, holding it, and rocking it. You can speak to it aloud or in your mind, offering words of comfort and reassurance, such as, I’m so sorry that happened. It wasn’t your fault. It makes so much sense that you felt that way. You are safe now.”

When we first begin this practice of self-love and self-care, Wachter says it’s important to start with wounds that feel manageable, so we don’t get overwhelmed. Some people may need to begin this process with professional help if their wounds feel like too much to tap into on their own. “Ultimately, as we consistently provide our most vulnerable parts with what they need to feel heard, safe, and loved, we become our own best caretaker, which leads to increased emotional resiliency and peace of mind.”

An Example of Healing in Action

In my own life, I’ve been applying Wachter’s wisdom to the part of me that gets terribly anxious every time I feel sick. For decades, I criticized myself for my overblown reactions to physical symptoms that were likely just passing through, labeling myself a hopelessly neurotic hypochondriac. I’d always tried to escape my anxiety by reasoning myself out of my fears, but far from finding relief, my mind continuously spun and came up with more reasons to feel terror instead of calm.

Finally, I’ve stopped repeating the same old pattern. Now, when a symptom of illness arises, quickly followed by the huge wave of fear, I take some slow deep breaths to calm my nervous system and turn my gaze inward. Right there, eager for my attention, is my terrified inner child who had two very difficult experiences of feeling abandoned and rejected when she was sick and suffering.

The first happened when I was 8 years old, my first time at a sleep-away camp. I was quarantined in a hot infirmary cabin because I had strep throat, and for days I was left mostly alone—afraid, feverish, and in pain. The second time was when I was 10 years old and had extremely violent food poisoning. The young babysitter in charge while my parents were away on vacation was so repulsed, she left me alone the entire time.

Now I can recognize that my fears around illness are so strong because they trace back to experiences that felt completely overwhelming to my young self. Since taking Wachter’s approach, when those fears arise, instead of spinning out on the possible perils of my symptoms, I immediately stop and turn toward my wounded inner child, offering her sympathy, love, and comfort. Not only are my old patterns easing, I’m also experiencing the relief that comes with understanding that my fears stem from old wounds rather than being a true indication of impending doom.

A 12-Minute Guided Meditation to Help You Heal Your Inner Wounds

In this soothing meditation, Wachter guides you through the process of self-healing described above. Once you get familiar with this practice, it is a gift you will always be able to offer yourself. The rewards are boundless.


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