The Two Different Kinds of Painful Emotions

The Two Different Kinds of Painful Emotions - Dr. Margaret Paul

People I work with often ask me to explain the difference between wounded feelings and core feelings – the existential painful feelings caused by others and by life.

One way of understanding this is that our core painful feelings - loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, grief, sorrow, helplessness over others, and fear of real and present danger - all reflect external reality.

These feelings are telling us that something is occurring that is causing these feelings – there is no one to connect with or the person you are with is shut down; someone is being unloving to you, to themselves, or to someone else; something tragic has happened; something dangerous is about to happen.

Our core painful feelings are based on our current external reality.

On the other hand, our wounded feelings are not based on current external reality. Instead, they are based on the false beliefs that we absorbed from past reality. For example, your past reality might have been that you were emotionally, physically and/or sexually abused. Because you were too small to feel your core pain over these experiences, you likely established some false beliefs, such as that the abuse was your fault because you are not good enough.

Today, if someone is being unloving to you, instead of feeling your core painful feelings, you might be telling yourself that they are being unloving because you are not good enough, or not lovable enough – that it's your fault that they are being mean. When you tell yourself these lies, then you will feel a wounded feeling, such as shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, emptiness, jealousy, or anger. A person’s unloving behavior is caused by something going on inside of them - not because there is something wrong with you. Therefore, when you experience wounded feelings, they are not based on reality. They are coming from your own false beliefs.

If your feelings are based on reality, you may feel the core feelings of loneliness, heartbreak, and helplessness that comes from seeing someone being mean. But if you are avoiding your core painful feelings by telling yourself a lie from your wounded self – such as telling yourself that their meanness is your fault - then you will feel your wounded feelings. Underneath your wounded feelings may be core feelings that you are avoiding.

As you practice Inner Bonding and learn to lovingly manage your core painful feelings, instead of avoiding them, you will find that you experience your wounded feelings less and less often.

As you gradually develop your strong and compassionate loving adult, managing core painful feelings becomes easier.

I'm not saying it's ever easy to manage some of the very big challenges and tragedies that you may face in your life, but I've seen over and over that people who have a strong spiritual connection and are able to bring much love and compassion to their core painful feelings, ARE able to manage what life brings them. I've seen people lovingly manage seemingly unbearable pain with equanimity, but only when they strongly feel the love of Spirit and they know they are not alone.

Just as our wounded feelings come from our false beliefs and are likely there to cover over the core painful feelings, so are our addictions. Addictions gradually fall away when you become able to compassionately embrace your core painful feelings of life.

The more you practice Inner Bonding throughout the day, the stronger your loving adult becomes – which means the stronger your spiritual connection becomes, because we are not a loving adult unless we are connected with our Guidance.

When I feel a wounded feeling, I immediately know that I'm telling myself a lie from my wounded self. When I open to learning, I can discover the core feeling I'm avoiding and bring love and compassion to that feeling. I don't have to stay in anxiety or stress – I can quickly move out of it and into the calm that comes from being in truth and reality.


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