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S2 EP168 – Bucking the Wound

Episode Summary

Healing from trauma and childhood abuse is possible, but it’s not about “getting there.” It’s about letting go of unconsciously re-traumatizing yourself and being in the ongoing process of evolving in love. Discover some powerful processes for dealing with abuse memories, and for connecting with your higher guidance, which is vital for healing from our wounds. 

Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul and Dr. Erika Chopich here with the Inner Bonding Podcast. Today, we want to talk about forgiveness and  healing past wounds.

(Erika) About four years ago, Margaret and I rescued a Haflinger horse who had been on a kill truck. A Haflinger is from high up in the Alps and they are small draft horses with beautiful flaxen double manes. Haflingers are often overlooked as performance horses, and most people believe they just belong in front of a plow. Nothing could be further from the truth. Princess Leia can jump a three rail fence with a foot to spare and ride all day long without tiring. Haflingers in general make amazing family horses.

When I first approached this horse, she reached around and gently touched me on this cheek. I knew there was something special about her. Sadly though, the people who put her on the kill truck to sell her for horsemeat had beaten her with rebar. They fractured parts of her spine, and her X-rays show bones floating around her withers. When I got her home, she was terrified – too terrified to even walk into her stall or the barn, too terrified to allow me near her ears where she was so injured. I spent the next week grooming her and teaching her how to be groomed outside in her paddock. It was important that I gain her trust as quickly as possible.

Now, four years later Leia has been trained to a very high level and works at liberty with no line, has impeccable gates, and smooth transitions. More importantly, she’s my partner.

Leia has an incredible ability to read people and to heal all those around her. She is protective of me and all the children who come to see her and ride her. When a small child approaches Princess Leia, she immediately plants her feet so as not to step on them and lowers her head all the way down so they can touch her muzzle and feed her little bits of carrots and kiss her on the nose. When they are in the saddle, she is very conscious of their balance, and if their balance begins to falter, she will immediately stop, plant her feet, and look for another adult to help the wee one. She is affectionate and trusting.

Never once have I  forced her to do anything. I have always encouraged her to want to do things with me, and the healing has been amazing.

Each morning when I go out to the barn to groom Princess Leia, a kind of calm and peace wash over both of us. Some mornings she just wants to make me laugh and she plays tricks on me, or she throws hay on me to feed me. Every morning, it occurs to me that she is amazingly forgiving with all she has been through and all she has suffered through. She trusts and loves every single member of our barn team and will do anything to please anyone who asks anything of her. Every morning, I am awed by the fact that she can be so forgiving and so healing, and yet humans are often not able to forgive on that deep level. It makes me wonder who is the higher being really?

When I had my stroke last year, it was Leia who instantly knew something was wrong and made it her business to heal me, and she did it beautifully. Even now when I walk her out to the pasture for turnout, she will always turn her head and look down at my feet and walk in step with me to support me, because my hand is usually on her back to steady myself. She always kisses me at turnout as though she’s saying, ‘thank you.’ I rescued her but then she turned around and rescued me right back, and that is the true nature of forgiveness.

Through the years of my private practice, I was always struck by people who cannot forgive the past. They will carry their wounds for decades and their grudges for decades, and never reach beyond themselves as Princess Leia role models every day. It always reminds me of the great Garth Brooks song, “We bury the Hatchet, but Leave the Handle sticking Out.”

But there is also another level of forgiveness, and that is forgiveness towards oneself. Often, I see people carrying the burden of shame and judgment within their own bodies, making it impossible to forgive outside themselves.

Leia is my teacher and my role model and has brought more healing into my heart and into my life than I could ever have imagined. She has turned out to be one of the nicest horses and partners I have ever owned.

It is her devotion to her own lovingness that has really healed her and enabled her to heal all those around her. We have much to learn every single day from Leia’s ability to heal her own internal wounds and allow us to do the same.

(Margaret) Some years back, I conducted a two-day Inner Bonding Intensive workshop with men who had recently been released from prison for domestic violence. With the men were their wives, as well as the father of one of the batterers who was still in prison.

The father, Douglas, sat in front of me, sharing his childhood experiences.

“My momma was a very loving woman – a big-hearted, hard-working loving woman,” he told me. From my many years of counseling, I knew that my definition of love and his definition of love were likely very different.

“Did she ever beat you?” I asked.

“Oh yeah. She beat me all the time. My daddy beat my momma and my momma beat me. But she beat me because I was bad. I was really bad. Maybe if she had beat me more, I wouldn’t have been so bad.”

“What did she beat you with?”

“Anything she could get her hands on. Extension cords, wooden spoons. Often I had to go into the yard and pick out the switch.”

“How did you feel when you knew you were going to get a beating?”

“Oh, I was terrified. I’d beg and plead and promise not to do again whatever it was she was mad at. But that never worked. I always got the beating. Then after the beating she would tell me that she loved me, that it was for my own good, and that it hurt her more than it hurt me.”

“And how were you bad?”

“Well, sometimes I’d come in late, and sometimes I would talk back. Then I got into alcohol and drugs at a very early age. Maybe if she had beat me more, I wouldn’t have done the alcohol and drugs.”

“Why do you think you did the alcohol and drugs?”

“I was just hurtin’ too much. It took me outta all the pain for awhile.”

“What was the pain?”

“I don’t know. I was just hurtin’ a lot.”

“Do you think it is possible that you were hurting because the woman who was supposed to protect you was instead hurting you? That she was confusing you by telling you she loved you while she was beating and terrifying you? That there was no one to turn to for safety and nurturing? That you were scared much of the time for fear of the beatings? That you were terribly lonely and could not turn to your parents because they were the ones causing the pain?”

Silence……Then he looked at me in shock.

As the light bulb when on in his mind, the tears started rolling down his weathered cheeks. Soon he was sobbing.

“That’s right….That’s right….The beatings were the problem. More beatings would not have helped. And I beat my children thinking it was the right thing to do, and now my son is in prison for beating his wife and protective services want to take away their daughter. And I almost hit her the other day when she didn’t mind me. I’m so glad I didn’t. This has to stop! This has to stop!”

I looked around the room. Everyone was in tears. Kathy, the wife of one of the batterers, spoke up, sobbing.

“I’ve always hit my kids, and no matter what anyone told me about it not being good, it never made sense to me. This is the first time I understand why it’s not a good or loving way to discipline my kids. And I can see why I’m having so many problems with my older son and why he is on drugs. He has always been furious with me, and I had no idea why. Now I understand. I need to learn a new way to discipline. I’m going to take a parenting class and start reading parenting books.”

I hugged Douglas for the profound work he did, and for the effect his work was having on everyone in the room. I thanked God for giving me the privilege of working with these people. All of them, it turned out, had been severely beaten as children. Unlike Leia, they hadn’t had the love that she has to heal the wounds. And it is love that heals – love for ourselves through learning and practicing Inner Bonding, and love with others – which eventually leads to forgiveness.

In order to love ourselves enough to heal our past wounds, we need to learn to see ourselves through the eyes of our higher guidance, and we need to be able to bring through the love, compassion, strength, and wisdom that is God. But this can present a problem for many of my clients who ask, “Why didn’t God stop the abuse? If God is all powerful, why didn’t he stop my father (or mother, or brother, or babysitter, or uncle or a stranger) from abusing me? Why does he allow all this abuse to go on?”

The question indicates that the person does not understand what God is, which means he or she would not understand this statement I love by Mother Theresa, “God has no hands but these.”

Many people have been programmed to believe that God is a person in the sky who can stop people from doing awful things. These Bible passages define God differently than that:

1 John 4:24
“God is Spirit…”

1 John 4:8
“…God is love.”

1 John 4:16
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

God is love, God is Spirit. God has no hands, so we must be the hands of God. The love that is God is always here, always ready to enter our hearts when our hearts are open to love.

However, since we all have free will, we all decide when to open or close our heart. The love that is God cannot enter a closed heart. God comes into our hearts by invitation, and we invite the love that is God into our hearts when our intent is to be loving to ourselves and to others.

Abusers have closed their hearts to the love, compassion, and wisdom that is God. Their intent is to protect themselves against their own pain through some form of controlling behavior. God cannot guide them because their hearts are closed.

When a person closes their heart, they cut off their empathy and compassion. They stop caring about the effect they have on others and can therefore do untold harm. Very likely, their parents or caregivers had closed their hearts, and if they were abused or didn’t receive the love they needed, they learned to do the same thing, trying to manage the pain. The result is that they may do to others what was done to them. The legacy of abuse is very sad.

However, in my work with my clients, it is always evident to me that the reason many children can survive abuse is because the love that is God is always there for them, helping them to manage the pain. Often, children can remember dissociating, leaving their bodies during abuse, and being with a loving presence who helps them to survive the terror and pain.

It is my experience that the love that is God is always here, always ready to guide me in my highest good and the highest good of all, and always ready to help me manage painful situations. When I open to learning about what is loving to me and to others, I feel the love that is God enter my mind and heart. I hear my guidance’s loving word’s guiding me each moment.

When people have not learned how to lovingly manage the heartbreak and grief of life, or when their abuse was so traumatizing that they become frozen in their fear, they protect themselves against the heartbreak and grief by closing their heart. God cannot make a closed person open to love. This is because we have been given free will.

“God has no hands but these.”

We can each choose to be the hands of God by learning how to lovingly manage our pain so that we don’t inflict pain on others, and so we can be there for others who are open to our love and compassionate help.

Inner Bonding is a very powerful way of healing our woundedness, but I often receive emails and questions regarding where to start the Inner Bonding process.

Cynthia asked in a webinar:

“I’m in the midst of some kind of break, break up, separation…something like that. I play the role of the dependent one and he, the independent one. We are both so scared with a deep love for each other and still very wounded hearts. I feel like I am being asked to let go of my controlling ways and find the inner bonding I need to have healthy relationships and a fulfilling life. But I realize, I don’t really have the trust in life and time the way I’d like to think I do. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want us to come back together again, I think he would too if he could really trust that I would take more responsibility for my pain. I am going to do Inner Bonding no matter what because it is really speaking to me. Do you have any advice for navigating this whole process in a way that is constructive and healing? I don’t want us to hurt each other anymore. Part of me thinks I should just leave him be. I watched your video on when to leave a relationship and this is definitely premature. Do I just need to be patient and do my work?” 

What I said to Cynthia is that the question to ask yourself is, “How do you like to learn?”

Different people learn in different ways. Some learn the most by reading. Others love to watch videos. Some need to have personal contact with a facilitator or attend a workshop or an Intensive to understand the process, while others love working on a computer and receive great benefit from our online program, SelfQuest. Some receive all they need to know from the free Inner Bonding course, and then they are off and running with their Inner Bonding practice. Some do all of it at the same time. What is important is to tune in to how you like to learn.

Regardless of how you learn best, the most important thing is to begin your Inner Bonding practice. Like anything worth learning, it takes practice. The more you practice the process, the better you get at it and the better you feel. 

When it comes to your relationship, remember that it can take some time to reach a point where you are actually taking responsibility for your feelings. The fact that you are worrying about whether or not you should just leave him be, indicates that you are still more focused on him than on your own learning and healing. You might want to take your focus off him and put it just on yourself.

Now is the time to learn to make yourself happy and take loving care of your pain. You will benefit from doing this whether or not you stay with him. It’s not a matter of trusting time and life but becoming a trustworthy loving adult for your inner child. 

Start wherever you are, with Step One of Inner Bonding – practicing staying present in your body, being aware of your feelings and wanting responsibility for them. If you have been trying to control him and get him to care-take you, then it will take time for you to shift out of that addiction and into connection with yourself. You have been focused on getting him to connect with you because this is what momentarily makes you feel safe, but in reality, trying to get him to connect with you is a form a self-rejection and self-abandonment. The moment you focus on controlling him, you have abandoned yourself, which results in even more insecurity.

The place to start is to adopt your inner child – to decide that you want responsibility for making her feel safe and worthy. Each time you find yourself overly-focused on your partner, bring yourself back to yourself – to your own feelings. You have been making him your higher power and he obviously doesn’t want this job. No one can be that for anyone else. Now is the time for you to develop your connection with yourself and your personal source of spiritual guidance, which is what will heal your neediness and dependency. When you can do this, then you will be ready to share love with him, rather than trying to get love.

What does it mean to emotionally heal? It means that you know what you are thinking or doing that causes fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, fear, anger, jealousy, and so on, and how to learn from and heal these painful feelings. It means that you no longer turn to addictions to avoid loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, sorrow, grief, or helplessness concerning others and events, because you know how to manage and release these painful feelings. It means that you do not feel like a victim of others’ choices and instead operate from a place of personal power, taking loving care of yourself rather than being reactive. It means that you are able to manifest the gifts you have been given and spend your time in what brings you joy. It means that you know how to fill yourself with love and share love with others rather than trying to get love and approval from others.

Healing your wounds occurs as you learn to love yourself and take responsibility for your feelings, which is what Inner Bonding is all about. 

Some therapies, such as CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – bring about behavioral changes that can sometimes be a help to people suffering from depression. But what about anger, heartbreak, and relationship problems?

One of the problems with some forms of psychotherapy is that our programmed mind cannot heal our programmed mind. Much of our pain comes from the false beliefs that have been programmed into a part of our lower left-brain called the amygdala – which is the seat of the ego, the wounded self. All of us absorbed many false beliefs as we were growing up that now limit us and can cause us much pain. Our horse, Leia, operated from the false belief that she would be hurt by people if they moved near her ears and her withers. It took time and love to heal this false belief.

As long as we operate from our ego wounded self, we are stuck operating from our false beliefs, because the wounded self cannot heal the wounded self. So how do we heal the false beliefs of the wounded self?

Healing occurs when we develop the loving adult part of ourselves that is able to access a source of truth. Our ego wounded self has no ability to access truth. The loving adult is the part of us that opens to learning with a spiritual source of love and truth, and learns to bring the truth through the mind and takes loving actions based on the truth, which is what starts to heal the false beliefs.

The more we take loving actions for ourselves and with others, the more we heal the false beliefs that are limiting us and causing our pain.

While the wounded self always operates from an intent to control getting love, avoiding pain, and feeling safe, the loving adult operates from an intent to learn about what loving to ourselves and others. It is this shift in intent – from controlling to learning about love – that begins the healing process. There is no deep, long-term healing as long as our intent is to control.

The more you learn to love yourself and share your love with others, the more you heal. The secret of emotional healing and emotional freedom is to develop your spiritually connected loving adult, because there is no true healing without a spiritual connection. Any therapy that does not include the development of a spiritual connected loving adult will not lead to long-term healing of our wounded self and to emotional freedom.

When spirit first presented Inner Bonding to Erika and me, I was pretty much blown away by the extraordinary power and simplicity of the process. At that time I believed, “All I have to do is devote myself to this practice and I will ‘get there’.” Getting there meant being healed once and for all.

I’ve since discovered how wrong I was. Healing is an ongoing, evolutionary process – like becoming a great artist or musician. Artists do not think in terms of finding their style and then staying there for the rest of their lives. They grow into their style and then they spend the rest of their lives evolving their art. They may think in terms of getting there regarding fame and fortune, but not in terms of the evolution of their art.

Healing is like this. So is learning the Inner Bonding process. I’ve been practicing this process for many years and I’m still learning about it, still moving more and more into the power of spiritual connection, still letting go of subtle levels of control, still discovering limiting beliefs, still learning about the subtleties of intention, still evolving my soul. I don’t see an end to the process – ever. I believe this is what life is about – evolving in love. And love is not a limited thing with limited definitions. It is an infinitely evolving source energy that evolves as we each evolve.

If you think you have to “get there” regarding emotional and spiritual health and healing, then you will likely be impatient with the process. Just as Erika had to have infinite patience with our horse Leia and continues to have to be very patient for healing to continue to occur, so do we with ourselves.

When you start to practice Inner Bonding, you might think you are not doing it right or not progressing fast enough. You might think there is something wrong with you regarding your ability to connect with your source of love and wisdom. Many people have an unrealistic concept of what it is like to connect with spirit. They think if they are not hearing a clear voice they are not connecting. It takes time, practice, and patience to experience the love and wisdom of your spiritual guidance, and, as I said, healing our wounds doesn’t occur without our spiritual guidance.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to let go of your concepts and beliefs regarding how fast you should be healing and how spiritually connected you should be, and just be present in the process. It’s like being in the process of learning to be a good parent with an actual child, rather than expecting yourself to be a perfect parent as soon as your first child is born. Letting go of performance and perfectionism will allow you to just be in the process of learning to be a good parent with yourself. And, just as we don’t expect our children to grow up in a year, don’t expect your wounded self to heal in a year. Your job is to learn to relax into the Inner Bonding process, to slowly make it a conscious and natural part of your life, just as you slowly make parenting a child a conscious and natural part of your life.

The most important thing to keep in mind as you learn and practice the evolving process of Inner Bonding is the consciousness of your intent.

I can’t stress enough that consciousness of your intent is the key to continued growth and healing. If you think you are open when you are really trying to control something, you will not progress in your healing process and will get discouraged. The wounded self is very tricky regarding intent. I often have the experience with my clients of them telling me that they can’t connect with their guidance, can’t find the loving action, and therefore can’t take loving care of themselves. “I don’t know how!” they complain. Other than times of illness when your frequency may be too low to connect with your guidance, it’s generally because your frequency is too low due to the intent to control rather than to learn about loving yourself. Frequency can also be affected by junk food and other addictive substances. The wounded self wants control over getting love, avoiding rejection, avoiding engulfment, avoiding failure, avoiding hurt. The wounded self may even want to know what is “loving” as a way to try to control the outcome of things!

The process of healing our wounds is about becoming aware of these levels of control so we have the choice to move into love for the sake of love, rather than for the sake of control. Practicing Inner Bonding daily will slowly move you into this consciousness. If you stop practicing because you can’t connect with your guidance, you will never get there. If you keep exploring your intent, both alone and with help from a partner, friend, facilitator, or therapist, you will keep evolving.

Don’t give up. Stay with the process and you will find yourself in more and more peace and joy. There may be big bumps along the way, but that’s life. Don’t let the bumps derail you from the sacred privilege of evolving in love.

I invite you to join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:

And we have so much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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