God has created us with needs: physical, emotional, and spiritual. If we are not taught how to provide for them ourselves, when these needs are not met, it creates problems for us; we call these problems wounds.
No one escapes childhood unscathed. We are all born into a sinful and broken world with parents damaged by sin’s effect in their own lives. For all of us, our life experience includes situations that have left us wounded. Some more severely than others. The question isn’t if you have wounds, but which wounds do you have and to what degree do they influence your life today. Acknowledging your wounds doesn’t make you weak – it just means you aren’t living in denial and enables you to care for your wounds, so they don’t detract from your life in the present.
God can miraculously heal all kinds of wounds, physical, emotional, and psychological. Ultimately, all believers will be completely healed, in the form of a new body that does not suffer from the effects and wounds of sin. In the present season of history, however, God doesn’t always choose to miraculously heal us. When and why He does in some situations and not in others is a mystery we likely won’t know the answer to this side of heaven. What we do know is His grace is sufficient for us. Through His body and by His Spirit, God supplies all we need to live the abundant life He has created us for.
In this section we will take a look at each of the needs we have and the wounds that are created when these needs go unmet in healthy ways. The purpose for looking at these things is to understand our heart, its wounds, and how they influence us in the present. This allows us to find healing and navigate our future in freedom.
We need to be safe and have our basic physical needs provided for. Having a safe place, free from excessive fear, allows us to develop our God-given potential. When this need is unmet we develop wounds of Abandonment or Mistrust and Abuse.
The Abandonment wound is the feeling that the people you love will leave you, and you will end up emotionally isolated forever. Whether you feel people close to you will die, leave home forever, or abandon you because they prefer someone else, somehow you feel that you will be left alone. Because of this belief, you may cling to people close to you too much. Ironically, you end up pushing them away. You may get very upset or angry about even normal separations.
Does the shoe fit?
- I find myself clinging to people I’m close to because I’m afraid they’ll leave me.
- I worry a lot that the people I love will find someone else they prefer and leave me.
Mistrust & Abuse
The Mistrust and Abuse wound is the expectation that people will hurt or abuse you in some way — that they will cheat, lie to, manipulate, humiliate, physically harm, or otherwise take advantage of you. If you have this wound, you hide behind a wall of mistrust to protect yourself. You never let people get too close. You are suspicious of other people’s intentions and tend to assume the worst. You expect that the people you love will betray you. Either you avoid relationships altogether, form superficial relationships in which you do not really open up to others, or you form relationships with people who treat you badly and then feel angry and vengeful toward them.
Does the shoe fit?
- I am usually on the lookout for people’s ulterior motives; I don’t trust people easily.
- I feel I cannot let my guard down around people or they will hurt me.
Connection to Others
We need healthy attachment to people, especially those closest to us. We need to receive attention from those we care about to feel connected emotionally with them. We also need a sense of connection socially with a community. In the absence of these needs being met in healthy ways we develop wounds of Emotional Deprivation and Social Exclusion.
Emotional Deprivation is the belief that your need for love will never be met adequately by other people. You feel that no one truly cares for you or understands how you feel. You find yourself attracted to cold and ungiving people, or you are cold and ungiving yourself, leading you to form relationships that inevitably prove unsatisfying. You feel cheated, and you alternate between being angry about it and feeling hurt and alone. Ironically, your anger just drives people further away, ensuring your continued deprivation.
Does the shoe fit?
- I have not had someone to nurture me, share him/herself with me, or care deeply about what happens to me.
- People have not been there to meet my emotional needs for understanding, empathy, guidance, advice, and support.
The Social Exclusion wound involves your connection to friends and groups. It has to do with feeling isolated from the rest of the world, with feeling different. If you have this wound, as a child you felt excluded by peers. You did not belong to a group of friends. Perhaps you had some unusual characteristics that made you feel different in some way. As an adult, you continue your wound mainly through avoidance. You avoid socializing in groups and making friends.
You may have felt excluded because there was something about you that other children rejected. Hence you felt socially undesirable. As an adult you may feel that you are ugly, sexually undesirable, low in status, poor in conversational skills, boring, or otherwise deficient. You reenact your childhood rejection – you feel and act inferior in social situations.
It’s not always apparent when someone has a Social Exclusion wound. Many times, with this wound people are quite comfortable in intimate settings and are quite socially skilled. Their wound may not show in one-to-one relationships. It is sometimes surprising to realize how anxious and aloof a person may feel at parties, in class, at meetings, or at work. If you have this type of wound, you may have a restless quality, looking for a place to belong and feeling like you never quite find one.
Does the shoe fit?
- I feel like I do not belong. I am different. I do not really fit in.
- I’m dull and boring; I don’t know what to say socially.
God created us with a limited autonomy over our lives, including real choice – reflecting His unlimited autonomy and choice. We need to feel like we have the power to exist autonomously and the freedom to direct our lives, the ability to function independently as adults. Otherwise, we form wounds of Dependence and Vulnerability.
If you have a Dependence wound, you feel unable to handle everyday life in a competent manner without considerable help from others. You depend on others to act as a crutch and need constant support. As a child you were made to feel incompetent when you tried to assert your independence. As an adult, you seek out strong figures upon whom to become dependent and allow them to rule your life. At work, you shrink from acting on your own. Needless to say, this holds you back.
Does the shoe fit?
- I do not feel I can cope well by myself, so I feel I need other people to help me get by.
- My parents and I tend to be overinvolved in each other’s lives and problems.
With a Vulnerability wound, you live in fear that disaster is about to strike-whether natural, criminal, medical, or financial. You do not feel safe in the world. If you have this wound, as a child you were made to feel that the world is a dangerous place. You were probably overprotected by your parents, who worried too much about your safety. Your fears are excessive and unrealistic, yet you let them control your life, and pour your energy into making sure that you are safe. Your fears may revolve around illness: having an anxiety attack, getting a terminal disease, or going crazy. They may be focused around financial vulnerability: going broke and ending up on the streets. Your vulnerability may revolve around other phobic situations, such as fear of flying, being mugged, or earthquakes.
Does the shoe fit?
- I worry more than the average person about danger- that I will get sick or that some harm will come to me.
- I worry that I (or my family) will lose money and become destitute or dependent on others.
We need to feel like we have value and are worthwhile in our personal, social, and work lives. We need to know we have something of value to offer that gives a sense of purpose to our life. Otherwise we feel shame about who we are and develop wounds of Defectiveness and Failure.
With the Defectiveness wound, you feel inwardly flawed and defective. You believe that you would be fundamentally unlovable to anyone who got close enough to really know you. Your defectiveness would be exposed. As a child, you did not feel respected for who you were in your family. Instead, you were criticized for your “flaws.” You blamed yourself – you felt unworthy of love. As an adult, you are afraid of love. You find it difficult to believe that people close to you value you, so you expect rejection.
Does the shoe fit?
- No one I desire who knew the real me — with all my defects exposed — could love me.
- I am ashamed of who I am; I am unworthy of the love, attention, and respect of others.
The Failure wound is the belief that you are inadequate in areas of achievement, such as school, work, and sports. You believe you have failed relative to your peers. As a child, you were made to feel inferior in terms of achievement. You may have had a learning disability, or you may never have learned enough discipline to master important skills, such as reading. Other children were always better than you. You were called “stupid,” “untalented,” or “lazy.” As an adult, you continue your wound by exaggerating the degree of your failure and by acting in ways that ensure your continued failure.
Does the shoe fit?
- I am not as intelligent or capable as most people when it comes to work (or school).
- I often feel inadequate because I do not measure up to others in terms of talent, intelligence, and success.
God has given us a voice and a responsibility to demonstrate with our lives who He has created us to be in our generation. We have a need to be aware of and give expression to our needs, feelings, and passions. Our needs matter as much as the needs of the next person God created. God has designed us for fun and play as much as He has for work and service. We need freedom to live with spontaneity without inordinate inhibition. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are reasonable endeavors. If self-expression is smothered or overly restricted, we form wounds of Subjugation and Unrelenting Standards.
With the Subjugation wound, you sacrifice your own needs and desires for the sake of pleasing others or meeting their needs. You allow others to control you. You do this either out of guilt – that you will or have hurt other people by prioritizing your needs – or fear that God will be disappointed with you or you will be punished or abandoned if you don’t do what others want you to. As a child, someone close to you, probably a parent, subjugated you. As an adult, you repeatedly enter relationships with dominant, controlling people and subjugate yourself to them, or you enter relationships with needy people who are too damaged to give back to you in return.
Does the shoe fit?
- I feel that I have no choice but to give in to other people’s wishes, otherwise they will retaliate, reject me, or God will be displeased with me in some way.
- People see me as doing too much for others and not enough for myself.
If you have the Unrelenting Standards wound, you strive relentlessly to meet extremely high expectations of yourself. You place excessive emphasis on status, money, achieving ministry goals, beauty, order, or recognition at the expense of joy, peace, happiness, pleasure, health, a sense of accomplishment, and satisfying relationships. You probably apply your rigid standards to other people as well and are very judgmental. When you were a child, you were expected to be the best, and you were taught that anything else was failure. You learned that nothing you did was quite good enough.
Does the shoe fit?
- I try to do my best; I can’t settle for good enough. I like to be number one at what I do.
- I have so much to accomplish that there is almost no time to relax and really enjoy myself.
God designed life to be lived within healthy limits and boundaries that honor His design. While we need self-expression without being overly controlled, we also need healthy limits. Otherwise, we seek the fulfillment of our needs and wants at the expense and disregard of others. God calls us to develop and exercise self-control, accepting realistic internal and external limits on our behavior. In the absence of this self-control we develop the wound Entitlement.
An Entitlement wound is associated with the inability to accept realistic limits in life. People who have this wound feel special. They insist that they be able to do, say, or have whatever they want immediately. They disregard what others consider reasonable, what is actually feasible, the time or patience usually required, and the cost to others. They have difficulty with self-discipline. Sometimes people with this wound were spoiled as children. They were not required to show self-control or to accept the restrictions placed on other children. As adults, they still get very angry when they don’t get what they want.
Does the shoe fit?
- I feel that I shouldn’t have to follow the normal rules and conventions other people do.
When theses wounds are “bumped into” by life circumstances in our present, they evoke intense feelings of fear. It’s this fear that sends us into the silence or violence that sabotages our communication. Being aware of the things we are feeling, called “emotional intelligence,” enables us to communicate what we are feeling and to work through the stories that lay behind them.
Take some time to read through the following list and identify the common fears that you experience when your wounds get bumped into. Do you recognize any of these in the other people you interact with regularly?
|Rejected||I’m not needed. I’m not necessary. I’m not desired. I feel unwanted.|
|Unwanted||I’m not wanted. I will not be chosen. I’ve stayed out of duty, obligation, or because it’s the “right” thing to do.|
|Abandoned||I will be alone. Everyone will eventually leave me. I will be left alone to care for myself. No one will be committed to me for life.|
|Disconnected||I am, will be, or others are towards me emotionally detached or separated.|
|Like a failure||I am not successful. I do not perform right or correctly. I do not live up to expectations. I fall short in life. I am not good enough.|
|Helpless / powerless||I cannot do anything to change my situation. I do not possess the power, resources, capacity, or ability to get what I want. I am controlled by others.|
|Controlled||I am or will be controlled by others; others will exercise authority over me. I will be made to “submit;” I am / will be treated like a child. Others act as my parent.|
|Defective||Something is wrong with me. I’m the problem.|
|Inadequate||I am not capable. I am incompetent. I lack what it takes.|
|Inferior||Everyone else is better than I am; I am less valuable or important than others.|
|Invalidated||Who I am, what I think, what I do, or how I feel is not valued by others.|
|Unloved||I’m not loved. Others do not love me. Important people in my life do not love me. People do not have affection or desire for me. My relationships lack warm attachment, admiration, enthusiasm, or devotion.|
|Dissatisfied||I am not satisfied by my relationships. I will exist in misery for the rest of my life. I will not be pleased in my relationships. I feel no joy in my relationships.|
|Taken Advantage of||I am taken advantage of or cheated. Things I need are withheld from me. I don’t get what I want; I feel like a “door mat.”|
|Worthless / Devalued||I am useless. I have little or no value to others; I feel cheapened, less than, or undervalued. I am not seen as priceless or irreplaceable. I am not needed.|
|Don’t measure up||I am never able to meet others’ expectations of me. I am not good enough. My efforts will never be good enough.|
|Unaccepted||I am not accepted. The important people in my life are not pleased with me / don’t approve of me.|
|Judged||I am always being unfairly judged or misjudged. People form faulty or negative opinions about me. I am always being evaluated and disapproved of.|
|Humiliated||My self-respect or dignity is destroyed.|
|Ignored||People do not pay attention to me. I am unknown. I feel neglected.|
|Unimportant||I am not important to others. I am irrelevant, insignificant, or of little priority.|
|Intimacy||I am afraid of opening up emotionally; I will be hurt emotionally if I allow others past my “walls.”|
|Misunderstood||People will not / do not understand me correctly; Others will get the wrong idea or impression about me; I am / will be misinterpreted or misread.|
|Mis-portrayed||Others have an inaccurate portrayal of me; I am misrepresented or represented in a false-way. I am described in a negative or untrue manner; people paint a wrong picture of me. Others have negative beliefs about me.|
|Disrespected||I am / will be insulted. I am not admired; people have a low opinion of me. I am / will be disregarded; I am not respected; I am not looked up to.|
|Out of Control||My life or relationships will be wild, unruly, hectic, or anxiety-ridden; I am not / will not be able to control my environment; things will feel disorganized or in disorder.|
|Alone||I will be by myself or on my own; I will be without help or assistance; I will be lonely; I will be isolated.|
|Insignificant||I will be irrelevant to others; I will be of no consequence. I am immaterial, not worth mentioning, trivial in the eyes of others. I am of minor importance.|
|Unknown||The real me is not known. I am a stranger to the important people in my life; I will be nameless, anonymous, or unfamiliar with the important people in my life.|
|Boring||There will be no passion in my life. Others perceive me as dull and dreary; my relationships are uninteresting. People believe that they know everything there is to know about me. I feel as if my spouse and I are just roommates — there will be no romantic feelings.|
|Disappointment||I will be a let down by those I care about; people will be disappointed with me|
|Phony||Others will see me as fake or not genuine; others will believe that I’m a fraud, pretender, or an imposter; I will be perceived not as who I say I am; I will be viewed as a hypocrite|
|Unfair||I will be treated unfairly; people want me to do things they are not willing to do themselves; there is a double standard; I will be asked to do things that are unreasonable or excessive; I am treated differently, not equally as others.|
|Dishonesty||My relationships will lack truth, honesty, or trustworthiness; Others willfully pervert truth in order to deceive, cheat, or defraud me; people will mislead, misrepresent, or lie to me.|
|Betrayed||People will be disloyal or unfaithful; my spouse has given up on the relationship; I’ll be let down; my private information will be shared or revealed with others|
|Unaware||I do not know what is going on in my relationships; I do not have necessary information; I’m in the dark; I’m clueless; Things feel secretive, hidden, or undisclosed; I’ll appear ignorant or uniformed; I’ll be made a fool of.|