This is a re-blog of a post that I have found helpful to come back to. As we continue through difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all: from our health and wellbeing, to our relationships and ability to focus and work. Over the next few weeks, I will share practical posts to help us navigate through these times and the highs and lows of life. May we all find our middle ground and live from the center of our being.
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.
John 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.”
To 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 own 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, so we lash out and blame or retreat and find ways to numb and soothe ourselves.
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 and understand ourselves and let love blossom inside.
Could it be that simple … that all we long for is to feel fully loved?
Yes is the answer lies within each of us.
By taking the time to see this in the heart of these moments, we can learn to give ourselves empathy and love and begin to heal old wounds.