I shared this article a while back and a lot of people resonated with it: Understanding Your Core Pain and False Self
After a relationship with a narcissist or sociopath, this wound is pretty much guaranteed to be passed along. For some it may be a reactivation of old childhood beliefs. For others, it may be the first time we felt the wound of core shame, a very abrupt and confusing separation from our true selves. I hear people say it all the time: "I miss my old self", as if their old self has gone away.
Our natural love and joy seem to have disappeared, and we don't feel happy from the things that used to make us happy. No matter how much we try to reorganize our lives and our surroundings, it's never enough to bring us back to the sense of wholeness that we believe was taken from us.
This is because the wound lives inside our bodies. No amount of analysis or thinking will fix that. Often this is experienced as numbness, emptiness, tightness, cramps, blockage, or a void. Mindfulness can allow us to discover where in the body this wound is felt (or unfelt).
We can also observe our own behavior and thoughts to get an idea of what type of core shame lives inside of us. Usually a protective self takes over in order to constantly prove the core shame wrong. This article calls it a "compensating self", which is a great name for it. It is basically the opposite of your pain. The over-achiever is secretly afraid they are never enough. The caretaker secretly feels worthless. The perfectionist secretly feels flawed or crazy. The dramatic sympathy seeker secretly believes they don't exist. The paranoid person secretly believes they are evil. The revenge rampager secretly feels powerless.
My protective self was heavily focused on appearing overly-nice and constantly trying to accomplish new things. There was resentment too, which could be seen in a lot of my writing - along with fantasies about battles of good versus evil (in which I was of course on Team Good lol). But once I started doing this work, I discovered an extremely unpleasant / disgusting feeling of rejection, inadequacy, and defectiveness that lived under the surface. It was so intense, and it relentlessly insisted that it was the ultimate truth, and that I had to listen to it. No wonder my body numbed it away (it was all in my heart area).
Basically a false identity forms, whose entire purpose is to numb away and disprove the pain. But the pain still lives in the body - and life has a strange way of reactivating that pain, over and over again. People call these "triggers", but I see them as opportunities. They are opportunities to fully experience the sense of inner defectiveness that is controlling our entire lives.
We can spend our lives trying to control our surroundings and other people, in order to avoid experiencing that discomfort. Or we can welcome these very difficult feelings without acting on them. Just offering compassion and kindness, and staying with them. There is nothing to trigger, if the sense of inner defectiveness is removed.
Tara Brach uses a mindfulness technique called "real, but not true" - this essentially allows you to recognize and stay with pain (rather than distracting and avoiding), while also considering that it is not true.
"But what if it IS true?" repeats the fearful self, over and over again.
This is the magic of unconditional love, god, spirit, the universe - whatever you want to call it. Unconditional means just that: there are no conditions. "God doesn't love you because of who you are. God loves you because of who God is." - Craig Groeschel
Narcissistic love is conditional and judgmental - something we learn from partners or parents. If you try to use this type of love to heal yourself, it's not going to feel very good. It'll just reinforce old beliefs.
When we're stuck in this "separate self" mode, everything is obsessive and analytical - repeating the story - who did what - who's to blame for what - proving ourselves. We are identifying as a story of betrayal, rather than our true selves. The whole point of healing core shame is to leave behind this controlling part of ourselves and embrace unconditional love. To know that we are loved and good, right now in this moment, without doing anything.
From my experience, this work is not about an internal battle or psychological analysis ("I do X because of Y!"). It's about feeling the sensations in our bodies, that our minds try to keep us away from. And then most importantly, offering unconditional love to those feelings. The more you offer, the worse it feels (at first), because the body is finally becoming more comfortable exposing the wound to you, melting away layers like an ice cube.
The more you meditate on unconditional love, the less you will identify as the protective self or the wound, and instead you'll start to identify as the person nurturing the wound. And keep asking, where in your body is resisting this love? Try loving (and eventually releasing) those resistances, rather than trying to control or modify them. That way the love can flood through you, uninhibited, and remind you of who you truly are.
I've written a new book about long-term healing. Whole Again is now published! If you would like to be notified about future books, you can enter your email address below. This is not a mailing list. Just a one-time notification:
Core Shame After Psychological Abuse
No matter how much we try to reorganize our lives and our surroundings, it's never enough to bring us back to the sense of wholeness that was taken from us.
Article Author: Peace