Love, Relationships and Triggers

I’m exploring more about what gets in the way of finding our Middle Ground. In the highs and lows of life there will always be more challenging days. This can happen when a colleague lets us down at work; when our partner disappoints us or when our mother criticizes what we are wearing….

Today, I dipped into John Welwood’s book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships.  He has such interesting and compassionate insights from a fusion of Buddhism and psychotherapy.

teddy all aloneJohn Welwood talks about the wounding of our heart that takes place when we are very young. This is when we realize that our parent cannot love us unconditionally and cannot meet all our needs.
The time comes when we cry and noone comes, or when we want comfort and there’s noone there.
We suddenly become insecure and very fearful about not being fully loved. We feel wounded and vulnerable.

This leads to what he calls a mood of unlove, when we don’t feel fully loved and believe that there is something wrong with us.
When we don’t feel worthy, appreciated, accepted, respected, acknowledged, valued or good enough, the mood of unlove shows up. He calls this the wounding of our heart.

“The mood of unlove often shows up in the form of sudden emotional flare ups in reaction to any hint of being slighted or badly treated. It’s as if a reservoir of distrust and resentment were ready and waiting to be released, which the tiniest incident can trigger. Even caring and compassionate people often carry within them a fair share of unlove and righteous grievance, which can suddenly erupt under certain circumstances.”

wounded heartTo bring it into everyday life. When your boss asks you to re-write that presentation you have spent hours working on, or your spouse criticizes you for not doing it right … you may get triggered!

What John Welwood is saying is that at these moments the wound of our heart opens up along with the mood of unlove. We react and try to protect ourselves from this feeling of being unloved and that there is something wrong with us..

When we become defensive and lash out or withdraw or try to escape,  we may feel better, but the original hurt will be there until we acknowledge and embrace it. We will continue to be triggered until we fully accept ourselves and let love blossom inside.

Could it be that simple … that all we long for is to feel fully loved? And that the answer lies within each of us.

By taking the time to see this in the heart of the moment, we can learn to give ourselves empathy and love and begin to heal this old wound.


36 thoughts on “Love, Relationships and Triggers

    • Awareness and understanding are the first steps Irene … the rest is as we walk the path. Thank you for sharing here. I’m so glad you can fully relate.
      Val x


      • Yep, there sure is. How do you think I manage to write my sayings that I do? From that CENTER. Yet, there are times I am knocked off that Center and thrown into chaos. Perhaps another learning experience? To again put into words or photo? I don’t know. But when it does happen, I do NOT like it. Growth hurts sometimes. Plain and simple. Love, Amy


        • Yes it can be tough Amy. The growth comes from the practice of finding your center again and again. Its isn’t “bad” that we get off center – its part of the highs and lows of life!
          Everything passes …
          We want to keep hold of the good times, but life has its way of showing us differently …
          What we resist will persist … no matter how much we want it to.

          Val xo


  1. Great post, Val. I have found this to be very, very true! As I deepen my connection to my inner spirit and learn that I can center into love at any time, I am less defensive throughout the day!

    Thank you for this post and important message.

    Peace ~ Allison xo


  2. Great post Val. The book sounds good. We all want to be loved and validated. Allthough we may display that in anger, fear or disconnection, the wounds from our childhood always seem to be the place to find how we heal.


  3. Hi Val,
    Welwood’s work seems lovingly familiar. I finally realized that I felt unloved as a child when I worked my timeline backwards from my adult-reaction to criticism and other “unworthiness” situations to the place of resistance within. Once I found sweet acceptance of the two wounded people who raised me, and for myself, I stopped judging myself so harshly and rarely feel “attacked” by peers and partners as I used to.


    • This is such an important part of our journey ISWH! Thank you for sharing your story. Now it is time to cultivate the love within ourselves so we can share it with other wounded people … just like us.
      Val x


  4. This post makes me think of the stray dog I have in my back yard right now. When I first found her she flinched every time I tried to pet her. She still does occasionally but mostly now she knows she will not be beaten but petted and she is like a little puppy now. Loving and playful! I wish that people were so quick to accept love like dogs are and to forgive those who were not able or didn’t want to love them. Hugs!


  5. If we are “over-reacting” to minor annoyances, we are probably re-acting to old hurts, wounds, and frustration all over again.

    I expect that living with the discomfort will cause a lessening of the pain.


    • Thank you Nancy. I like your perspective. When we accept that the hurt is inside of us, then we can take responsibility for it it rather than blame others. For here, we can give ourselves understanding and compassion.


  6. This is one of the first lessons taught in Choices — about those wounds on our hearts from the there and then, which we encountered long before we had words to express what we were feeling — and how they control so much of our responses in the here and now.

    Great post Val


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