Client: I have been very distressed about an old friend and former business associate who is now acting in ways with people we both know that are thoughtless and almost unethical, but not directly toward me. It has bothered me deeply. I have tried to use your idea of remembering to look at things again and in another way. I know now that when I do get tweaked by someone or something, I can look at the core wounds at see where some of my reaction is coming from. But I am not clear about this situation.
There are many things that drive us or orient us that can be useful to re-examine. In the past we have used the term 'core wound' to point towards those issues that are held deep within and assert their influence over and over in our lives; sensitivities that may change, but seemingly do not totally abate.
Now we think a better term, a broader term, is the 'core map'. The developing child begins to make a map as in, 'from this circumstance I must take this direction.' And like in our everyday life, the maps need to be changed, updated. We don't want our GPS to take us to where the bank used to be; we want it to be up the minute and take us to where the bank is now. So if we understand that we have a kind of internal core map that takes us a certain place, in our present moment we can say, 'Well, I need to re-examine that because the map is going to take me over here in that direction, but that is from years ago and by updating the map I can go somewhere else.'
When our outdated map gets the keys to the car and takes us to the first, the early direction, we can say, 'I can update this map. I can see it from now. I don't have to stay where I first arrived, I can go somewhere else.' And embedded in the model of an inner map and a GPS, changing, updating and new directions are part and parcel of maps, inner or outer.
The early challenges that stay with us certainly feel as 'woundings', which is what makes those experiences so lasting and powerful. But when we hold those experiences within the idea of a map, we can then begin to embrace the sense of movement and make movement and change more paramount in our experience.
Client: Yes, especially those feelings of deep hurt and then we want to project it onto the person that now we experiences as hurting us, but the strength of the reaction is coming from the childhood hurt.
The core hurts usually have strong fear connected to them and their power is in "I don't want that to happen again.' And what happens is not so much projection onto another person, but a resonating with the core wounding. Maps, in their essence, are meant to guide us to give us direction, to help us find our way. And the early map may very well have aided a child, protected a child. When you now find yourself in a situation that links to an early stressful time - in this case a betraying person, a person who turns out to be not as you thought - your old map will say 'Danger. Danger. Danger.' It might tell you to shut down. It might tell you to stand up and stop that person. Remember, a young child certainly experienced emotional danger and may very well have been endangered. The child is dependent upon the betrayer.
The adult child can now say, 'I feel so hurt when these situations come up and it just echoes and amplifies from when I was young, but now this person can't hurt me in the very same way that mother or father could hurt me.' Again, the power our early woundings have is children are in a compelled environment; they can't just go. They are in a place where they are bound. That is why these early events are so powerful, you cannot get away. Once a child has any autonomy - going to school, going to a grandmother, a housekeeper, a sibling, a friend's home - one place of movement away from the person or the situation, we begin to find, 'Ah, I can be different over here.' But those early things are strong and perhaps your actual life really did depend upon your action - 'Don't upset the person who could really hurt you.' and thus that feeling, that actuality may resonate with you perhaps for your whole life.
But as we remodel our maps and we understand and remind ourselves that we are different now from when we got that wound, which is now a scar, and we have autonomy and so on - a whole different world opens up as to what we can do with our inner maps. And for some people, eventually the past becomes quiet and can be let go. The wound becomes a scar, healed over. Sometimes it may still ache, other times we acknowledge the ache and move forward.
The main tool to update our maps is where you began - to remember to look at things again and in another way. To inquire about ourselves, to see from different perspectives. To bring knowledge to ourselves. To find listeners who help us open our maps and look at how they were formed. To acknowledge our feelings. To remember that the child's perspective is a limited view. A child so easily comes to think that they are the cause of all things. To let our maturing self be a guide and guardian to our young selves. To dance with life-long learning about the world, about one's inner world. To make new pathways and new routes. To update our inner maps and start over if our inner driver takes us to an old place that is not as useful any longer.
The present situation with your friend - a person you cared about, were friends with, worked with, loved - has revealed another side you did not see and now you don't trust or respect them. Your map has given you cause for an update. It is difficult to accept this new view. But you can come to understand how it may have come about.
It is particularly difficult for you because there was an early betrayal in the family, leaving you with a strong response to falseness and hidden aspects. You also judge yourself. 'How did I not see that? Was I in denial?' No, you were not. Rather, it is more along that lines that it was not there for you to see; the person actually related to you differently than they have with others. When circumstances changed, the person changed in relating to you and you then could recognize what others had seen before you.
This is an experience many Empaths and sensitives share. The empathic core you operate from always moves to relate to the caring, connecting element in others. People often tell you how it is 'different' with you. And it is, because as you hold that thread of relating; they can enter into it with you. They may, indeed, be different when with you. But when key aspects change, the person often cannot sustain mirroring this kind of energy on their own. If they have not embraced and integrated it themselves, it becomes less available to them if they have distance or disconnection with you. And it is then that people you may see what others will tell you was a more typical behavior. The person was not false with you; they just cannot yet hold that space themselves. It was part of the inter-action dynamic between you.
Defense is not the tool for balancing this, discernment is. Empaths have to be sure that they see the other clearly, and that seeing needs to be anchored in everyday living. When situations change and a person acts 'out of character' once or twice, most people begin to look at things again. Empaths and sensitives may want to hold the 'caring' energy as the 'true' energy and dismiss the actions that are not aligned with that. But we have to live a life of integration and that asks us to discern - to see clearly, to set limits, to say No, to end something, to have balance be mutual. Simpler for some; often challenging for sensitives. But boundaries of all sorts are essential for living fully. Because you can be responsive to another's needs, absolutely does not mean you must be or that another can compel you to be.
Being a sensitive is not a cosmic responsibility; it is a quality that you hold and are willing to share, but always in balance. And when it is not, when you are doing all the balancing, then is essential for you to set the boundary and care for yourself. So you are not 'betraying' your old friend by setting limits and boundaries. You are being aligned and balanced with the actuality as opposed to the idealization of how things were.
There are some people that we always relate to from the connecting core. For you, the specialness you share with your partner is that you always related to each other from and with this core; first as friends, then as partners. You see each other clearly, in the fullest sense. Your empath heart matches his. When some connections need to change, remember those that continue to flourish and know others will arise as well.
excerpted and edited from a personal session, with permission