Are You Defining Yourself by Your Wounds?


I recently listened to a lecture by Carolyn Myss based on her book, “Why People Don’t Heal and How they Can.” In it, she mentions the term “woundology,” and says that many people define themselves by their wounds, and even connect with others on the basis of their wounded history. The energy locked up in these emotional wounds literally causes the biology of the physical body to break down, to malfunction, and to show physical wounds that match the emotional ones. Ugh! How awful is that!?!

When she brought up “woundology,” I had to pause the recording and listen to it again. I instantly realized that not only do I know tons of people who do this, but I’ve been doing this myself. For years after my mom died, I walked around wearing a virtual overcoat of wounded, pained, sorrowful energy. I was depressed. My story defined me: my mom had cancer when she was pregnant with me, divorced my dad when I was three about wouldn’t let me see him after I was seven, she got cancer again when I was ten, and she died when I was 15, leaving me with no-one but Nana, the abusive spiritual guru who brainwashed my mom into her way of thinking, and who also babysat me. None of my family knew what had happened because my mom cut herself off from everyone. I couldn’t live with Nana because she was so oppressive, and chose to stay in a foster home for three months until my dad found me, and then I went to live with them – a whole new family I’d not seen in years.

I defined myself by the suffering I’d endured, and as an adolescent, I expected people to be nice to me because my mom had died. Some were, and some weren’t. As I grew older, good things happened, and bad things happened. When bad things happened, I’d layer them on to my already difficult past, and the emotional pain compounded: not only did I have a tragic childhood, but then I suffered as an adult, too.

Just thinking about my painful past immediately sends my energy running back to the spaces and places where trauma took place. In fact, I couldn’t even sit still and write this post today. A maintenance man was just here, and he made a huge mess, and my throat chakra is constricting with the anger I have over my past (which involves a lot more pain and suffering than I’ve described here – if I wrote out my whole sob story, it would take days!). The maintenance man left the kitchen and bathroom in a total shambles AND tracked in two big black ugly marks on the carpet. So I’ve had to get up and vacuum, scrub the stains on the carpet, and sweep and mop the kitchen and bathroom floors. I just sat back down to write, and a loud construction-type of truck just fired up outside. I am so angry I could SCREAM!!!!!!!!!

The fact that all this happened all at once is a sign that I’m still giving a lot of energy to the past. And it’s manifesting in my body, as Carolyn Myss suggests: my right shoulder has been hurting since I dislocated it (for the third time) this past October, and this makes my neck and upper back hurt. My left foot has been killing me – plantar fasciitis.

I meditated yesterday and journeyed back to find the real root of these ailments. I realized that my foot pain was associated with walking with Nana all over the place, because we didn’t have a car. There was a lot of resentment associated with being poor like that. My shoulder pain comes from a deeper place. I found it ironic that my mother’s right arm was the one that was riddled with cancer…could I be re-creating that disappointment in my own body? I’m still working on that one, because it’s a huge one. I want to heal this, though, because who knows what else my body will create as I age and carry these wounds along with me?

Everyone I see for sessions has been wounded in some way or another, and everyone is impacted by these wounds. When you become used to identifying yourself according to what you’ve suffered through, it’s hard to even think about how to change that. But if you don’t reclaim your power, you will actually magnetize more stuck-ness, pain, and trauma into your life. You’ll unwittingly experience similar emotions, situations, and events, and eventually, your body will manifest wounds for you.

I recently felt a powerful sense of closure the other day, when I sat down to meditate and work on forgiving Nana. She died, so I can never talk to her in person again. In working to reclaim my power, I decided that I’m actually ready and willing to do it now. My new story is not that I was a victim of an abusive power-monger, but that my spirit decided to have a learning experience early in life. There were good days and bad days. My childhood wasn’t all bad. I can now truly say that I forgive her (well, almost), and I feel lighter and better about things. I love her spirit, and what that spirit taught my spirit about strength and endurance, and about how not to be when it comes to spirituality. Her soul taught my soul powerful lessons, things that serve me to this day. In that sense, she was – is – a soul mate. Soul mates help you grow. She helped me grow. I am stronger now. My foot doesn’t hurt as much, and I’m kind of amazed.

When you get out of your head, you allow space for the truth to come in. You can let go of your ego, the part of you that needs to hold on to things, and find the strength to let go and forgive the people and situations that you hold responsible for your wounds. You can even go back to your past, visit yourself as a child or youth, and walk yourself through situations. While you’re in that space, you’re not imagining things – your spirit is literally there, mending past moments, which absolutely does have an effect on the present. Here’s how you do it:

  • Take a few nice, deep breaths, and quiet your mind. Spend 5-10 minutes to slow your brainwaves down.
  • Try to sit still and talk to the perpetrators from your past, and see if you can start to forgive. It won’t happen the first time. But keep trying, and eventually, you will be able to release them.
  • Talk to your body, to the parts that are bothering you, and see what pictures it shows you, then let your imagination fix those pictures.
  • Send light, love, and forgiveness to yourself. 

Notice how you feel. See if your present life shifts a little.

Try it out – you have nothing to lose but 30 minutes or so, and everything to gain.

Are you defining yourself by your wounds? Do you think it’s helping or hurting you? Can you trace any physical ailments back to traumas in your past?

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  • Anonymous   

    This was a very informative post. I've had a really hard time trying to "get over" a lot of emotional wounds. It had gotten so bad that my body was hurting in places that usually would feel better after a few workouts or massages. Not so anymore.

    It really sunk in when you said, "… if you don't reclaim your power, you will actually magnetize more stuck-ness, pain, and trauma into your life." I had a moment of realization around that "magnetize more stuck-ness" part.

    Thank you for explaining your history. It helped me understand I was doing something similar with my issues.

  • Krishanti   

    Thank you. I think a lot of us have a hard time getting over, past, or through our emotional wounds…they kind of do tend to stick, and become a part of our history, even if we don't want them to. But realizing what's happening is the first step toward healing…if we're not aware of what we're doing, we won't try to make changes.