“Wounds of Mattering”, Missed Connections Found in Our Internal Dialogue.

Human relationship is one of the most, if not the most important areas of our lives. It is through relationship, in our earliest and formative years, that we learn about ourselves and others. The foundation of our own capacity and trust in others is born and solidified during this time. Each of us, no matter the background of our life story, can have what are known as wounds of mattering. In the world of human relationship these are the wounds (both large and small hurts) that result when attachment figures (those who raised us and for some those who weren’t there to participate in raising) hurt us, let us down, or just weren’t aware enough to see (or help us to see) our inherent worth.

I was first introduced to this concept (wounding through the experience of unmet need by those who most mattered to us) by a past mentor Dr. Kent Hoffman and co-creator of Circle of Security International. This was provided to me through various trainings, and in the context of clinical supervision, which in part focused on understanding the lasting impact of missed connection in one’s childhood. For many years I have worked as an attachment and trauma therapist and have sat with individuals who have endured life’s cruelest betrayals. The incredible strength (within the human psyche) consistently humbles and reminds me, not only, of the lasting pain of childhood wounds but the deep desire and capacity of the human spirit to survive and heal from these deep betrayals.

What I have come to understand, through my work and exposure to this concept, is that these wounds do not only come through cruel actions. They can result through the consistent, most often unintended, experiences of not having attachment needs met. Through time, I began to see, individuals who came to treatment who had not (at surface look) experienced what one might think of as a traumatic experience or experiences. What they (and maybe many of us) experienced was something more subtle. Something that , left unexplored, seemed less impactful but in truth had shaped deep beliefs about ones worth. These deep held beliefs had taken root (as they do) and began to manifest in the many ways defense (self-protection) does. This can come in many forms and, as often written about here, is designed to protect the self (the true self`-beneath the layers of our learning) from this knowledge.

It is these more subtle wounds that can bring individual’s who are seeking to understand and change felt experience to treatment. Often times, a new client will come to treatment identifying that they feel anxious, depressed, are having difficulty in relationship, or have experienced a loss of relationship. When the initial clinical information is gathered, they do not report historical traumatic occurrences (again those we think of this way) and will often say they aren’t sure why they feel the way they do. They say this, as if their feelings are not valid. As we explore early relationships, we will generally find places where relational or attachment needs weren’t met. Again, this generally was not intentional. Most caregivers do not go out of their way to miss opportunity with their children, most are primarily unaware.

Attachment needs are those provided in moments of nurturing, supporting a child’s curiosity and learning, taking an interest in what a child is sharing, comforting small and large hurts, listening, teaching and supporting new skills and eventual independence in those skills, delighting in and celebrating his or her successes, reassuring safety when a child is afraid, accepting and helping a child identify and cope with feelings, and many more moments (interactions between child and caregiver) that happen over and over throughout childhood. It is through these moments that belief and literally the neurobiology of this belief are born and ingrained. Meaning the brain and its automatic responses (neurobiological foundation) become a part of one’s physiology. (In example, the belief goes something like this, when I have a need, it is met or not met, and I do something in response.)

As noted, throughout writing on this blog, our defenses are as individual as we are and are based on our varied histories. They are rooted in the learning, that has become part of our neurobiology and automatic responding. For instance, if a child is sad or scared and his or her caregiver most often stops, listens, validates feelings, reassures of safety, and helps his or her child know how to handle the situation if it arises again ~ trust and security are formed. This child believes he or she is worthy of listening to, protecting, helping, and cherishing. The belief, I matter, results. This belief becomes solidified because he or she has had this experience many times as they were growing and developing.

A child who most often experiences a caregiver who is preoccupied, dismissive, unkind, shaming, harsh, punishing, overly protective or unavailable, in response to his or her feelings (and underlying need) will learn something else. They will learn and begin to internalize (again in their very neurobiological makeup) that these feelings aren’t important . If this response occurs often enough, through time, it will become a generalized belief. A belief that might say, I am not important, I am not good enough, I can’t do anything right ~ I do not matter.

In one of my very first trainings with Circle of Security International (noted above) Dr. Hoffman (also noted above) began the training by asking the participants (mostly new clinicians, social workers, and foster or foster-adopt parents and providers) to write on a 3×5 index card “What describes in you the voice you wish you didn’t have to listen to?” This was difficult, powerful, and telling. (You can hear Dr. Hoffman’s description of this exercise within the context of infinite worth and wounds of mattering in the TED Talk found in the resources that follow). Suffice it to say, this is the belief that has resulted from our early accumulative experiences and the voice that speaks (often harshly) the wounds of our mattering.

It is found, in connected attachment research, that most of us hold negative and hurtful beliefs about ourselves. This was regardless of whether we had been victims or abuse in our childhoods or had what are thought of as attachment wounds. Those accumulative experiences described above.

Overall, in the search for healing and beginning to live fully in our own lives, it is important to recognize our internal dialogue and to begin to understand where it originated. It is through this process that we begin to heal our hurts and see our inherent worth. As noted throughout, it is important to remember these hurts were most often not provided with any intentionality but from those with their own wounds of mattering.

On a final note, because this knowledge often stirs unneeded guilt in parenting, I want to share what is well documented in attachment research. In truth, if we as parents in the absence of abuse , support our children by responding appropriately to need (30% of the time) we raise well adjusted secure children. Children who have trust in self and other and balance life well. This is exceptionally good news. Parenting is difficult work and is most often delivered with love and solid intentionality.

As always, it is my hope that you found something that resonates and stirs thought. I welcome your thoughts.

With deepest care and respect. LaDonna

Copyright Protected Material: © 2014 ~ 2021 LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW. All rights reserved. Written content on this blog (Perspective on Trauma) is the property of the author LaDonna Remy, MSW, LICSW. Any unauthorized use or duplication without written permission of the author/ owner of this web log is prohibited. Excerpts or quotes may be shared in the event the author is fully cited with reference and direction to this blog.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational. It is not intended to provide advice, assessment, treatment, or diagnosis. Content is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, or to engage in an informed treatment relationship within this format. If you or a loved one need support; it is important that you access this care from your own (specifically assigned) health care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the Perspective on Trauma blog. As noted; it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. In the event; support is needed it is your responsibility to seek care from your own health-care provider.

Photo: Pixabay

National Hotlines:  Treatment Referral Helpline: (1-877-726-4727)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-825

Resources:

A Secure Base: Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development. John Bowlby.

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents. How to Heal From Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents. Lindsay C. Gibson.

Attachment. John Bowlby

Raising A Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child’s Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore. Glen Cooper, Kent Hoffman, and Bert Powell.

The Circle of Security Intervention: Enhancing Attachment in Early Parent-Child Relationships. Glen Cooper, Kent Hoffman, and Bert Powell.

Circle of Security International Website

102 thoughts on ““Wounds of Mattering”, Missed Connections Found in Our Internal Dialogue.

  1. Wow. We are once again in sync.
    I hadn’t heard the term ‘wounds of mattering’ before, yet, my entire blog post this morning is about ‘wounds of mattering’.
    I also appreciate your 30% statement at the end — because, as you write, we don’t intentionally set out to hurt our children, but hurt still happens. I’m grateful that in my parenting, my daughters have grown into secure, well-adjusted beautiful, loving adults.
    Thank you for this LaDonna. Much food for thought — and a TedTalk to listen to too!

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Thank you Louise. This human journey is so full of learning for each of us. We all, I believe, do the best we can and as we learn more there is an option to do something different. I’m looking forward to reading your post. ♥️♥️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you LaDonna — it was fascinating how after reading your post, and then posting on another site I’m a member of about being left behind by my parents and then art journalling and realizing as I learnt more, was not about painting their faces, but rather to cut the chain. So I did and this morning’s blog became a reflection of all that learning! Thank you for being such a beautiful gift of wisdom and heart.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Totally agree with you. Sometimes words are wounding and hurting the feelings more than actions. I tried this matter personally, since i am a very sensetive person, i am very honest and faithful to the people whom i meet even for one time, when someone hurts me through words, i might not sleep for two or three nights, i tried changing my self but i could not. Hope we follow each others, thank you

        Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you so so much for sharing your knowledge and the TED talk. Both speak so well to me right now in life. The effects of my childhood are pretty clear, but the causes are almost impossible for me to get a sure grasp of. It has made it difficult for me to accept and heal when I can’t see clearly what “happened” and also difficult to communicate to others my experience. My emotions can seem unwarranted and invalid. There wasn’t one big event.

    Your post allows me to see it all a little clearer. It allows me to accept that even though my parents meant me no harm, being unable to meet my needs through my childhood did cause me pain and wired my mind to see myself, others, and the world a certain way. A way that though helpful then, isn’t helping me now. Also thank you so much for addressing parenting guilt at the end of your post. I do struggle with feeling that I inevitably will give my children the same mindset I have struggled with my whole life. It’s so reassuring to hear that if I can be attuned to their needs even 30% of the time they likely will be able to find security in themselves and others. I want that for them more than words can express. You’ve helped clarify my path forward and strengthen my hope.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I’m glad you have found something that resonates. I can hear you are on your journey and wish you much peace in this process. And, I think being aware of our own struggles, and staying conscious of our history, as we parent in more than half the battle. The awareness and intentions you share for your children is genuinely beautiful💗

      Liked by 5 people

  3. A lovely article, as always, LaDonna. Profound, and well written. Interstingly, my journey inward did not start until after leaving the academy; and, I have found empowerment, release, and many openings, by understanding why my internal dialogue was the way it was for so many years. Thank you for writing this piece. Very important. ❤❤

    Liked by 10 people

  4. This was just amazing, I still don’t have kinds but I reading through reminded me of so many moments in my own childhood. For so long I could not tell my point of view in an argument because I was shouted at in my childhood while defending myself.
    Thank you for your post:)

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience. 💗 I think once we have an understanding of the origins we can make more conscious changes. I appreciate your awareness in process. It makes solid difference💗.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Beautiful article LaDonna! Loved this: “it is important to recognize our internal dialogue and to begin to understand where it originated.” Honestly, even though I am not a clinician nor have I heard the reference Wounds of Mattering, you certainly delivered your message so eloquently and understandably. I enjoyed reading your piece. 🙂 Talk about relationship building! ❤

    Liked by 8 people

  6. So true. Most often people seek treatment for the symptoms of the current issue and not dive into the route cause of why.
    Your perspective is often over looked and the person seeking help keeps cycling through the same issues.
    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 8 people

  7. Fantastic insights La Donna. I’m glad Sally introduced me to your blog. Now following. I study people for a hobby and it began with first searching within since childhood and learning as I grew how my mother’s narcissism controlled everyone around her. Growing up with a narc mother and emotional abuse, it became more a mission for sanity survival. One of lucky ones who learned to overcome through many years of self therapy.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Thank you. I appreciate your sharing your experience here. It is truly a healing journey and I am genuinely glad you have found your way through. My care to you and appreciation for commenting and following. (And, Sally’s blog is wonderful. I am glad we connected there)🤍. I look forward to reading more of your work.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. LaDonna, this is well done and speaks volumes. As children we each witnessed this in some form and as parents or partners we have actually done some of this as well. And, some siblings may be on the receiving end more so than others. For example, my father’s alcoholism made him less available to my younger sister than for my older brother and me. As for me, working long hours made me less available until I recognized a need to cut back due to health and family reasons. I became a better person, husband and father as a result.

    Again, thanks for sharing this. Keith

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Keith 💗. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. It is very true, we most likely all have has these experiences in some form. It does enhance us, when we can see and respond to need (our own and others). 💗💗

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for sharing another very thoughtful and well-cited and articulated post, LaDonna.

    During our adoption journey, we were required as with other adoptive parents to take a mandatory adoption readiness course that taught prospective parents about the common issues adoptive children face – which include loss, grief, trauma and issues related to attachment.

    Those concepts never really felt relevant at that time but they make a lot of sense now. My heart aches when I think of kids who through from one foster family to another… or kids who are now in their teens and still in the foster family waiting to be adopted. I can only imagine that internal dialogue and sense of one’s worth as you talked about.

    Thanks for sharing the TED video too. Will take a watch later this weekend.

    Have a good weekend! 💕

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Thank you Ab, and thank you for sharing your experience. I agree with what you have said for children who, through no fault of their own, move from place to place in the foster care system. I have worked with foster and foster adopt families for many years and the challenges and heartaches are very real. One of the reasons, I enjoy your blog so much. Your deep commitment and connection to your son is really wonderful to hear and read. I hope you have a good weekend too and I do hope you enjoy the video.

      My care to you. 💗

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you. I remember when we were going through the adoption journey and looking at profiles. We did not have the capacity to take on an older child but just seeing those profiles – year after year – still not adopted was very heartbreaking to be honest.

        We are blessed with our T for sure.

        Take care.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. This is the first time I am reading your work, and it is nothing but a great experience. What bad episode happens to us in our past, consciously or subconsciously haunts us. And it takes lot of efforts of self or by a clan to resurrect. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I appreciate your letting me know. It’s all very frustrating. I’ve had a few other bloggers share this too. I’m not able to repair the issue. The person who designed my site says there is nothing that he sees by way of formatting. His thoughts were it might be due to devices used. I’m not sure. I’m glad you check back – I am at a loss on how to correct the issue. But, it is frustrating. I appreciate you 💗♥️.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and posting such an informative blog. Confirmation to me to look a little bit deeper before I react to others. It is always easier to react to what you feel that moment but it’s always good to search internally first, thank you for that reminder.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Interesting, I think I was blessed with great parents, especially in retrospect and with comparing my childhood with others. Where I suffered “wounds of mattering” was from my adult relationships. Perhaps their childhood was as you describe and they were taught to disregard others as not mattering. Perhaps this is a cyclical thing

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think it really can be, and only changes with the ability to truly reflect. And, that is genuinely a challenge for some. I always appreciate your thoughts and sharing. And on a side note, I’m glad you had a solid foundation and relationship with your parents. It makes a wonderful difference in life ♥️

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi LaDonna..boy can I relate! I feel as if I “fell through the cracks”. It was all unintentional (well except for one notable event) but I never had a chance to develop a proper persona. Many many years of therapy and mostly I am OK now, but at age 73 I am a loner, have no social skills. I was angry but gave that up as being too self destructive. I let it all go and yet it comes back to smack me periodically. Oh, what parents do to their children. And I was considered the lucky one. I think that is what hurt most. Thanks for your wise words.
    Carolyn

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Not sure what I want to say right now. My sense of mattering in a very strange and contradictory place at the moment.

    So I’ll just share this… written after watching African elephants make their massive migrations on a TV screen while holding the fragile hands of the ine person who knew the nature of my mattering better than anyone…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. “It is my hope that you found something that resonates and stirs thought.” Boy, oh, boy. Being an adoptee who also lost her adopted mother early on…all of this resonates. I JUST had an essay published about this and about how I was taught to suppress emotions, leaving me to then pass that on to my own daughters (unsuccessfully).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you da-AL. I didn’t realize I hadn’t yet replied to your comment. I appreciate your kind words and as time allows would feel honored to guest post💗. Thank you for asking. I consider it a huge compliment 💗.

      Liked by 1 person

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