Identifying Core Hurts
If you had a hard day at work, do you find yourself playing video games? Do you find yourself driven to be perfect, but you don't know why? These are examples of how we cope when we have experienced hurts. It is because some of our hurts have become so intense that we go to extremes to avoid them. How have our hurts become so intense? The answer lies in our history. The same hurts may have been experienced throughout childhood repeatedly. They build and build, and if they aren’t addressed, get carried into adulthood. We call these “Core Hurts.” These core hurts get further internalized into what we call “View of Self” (VOS), which are negative beliefs about ourselves. By adulthood, because the core hurts and VOS are so painful, we develop proactive strategies to avoid them. We may become very controlling and critical to keep people at a distance or we may find ourselves appeasing people or isolating ourselves from them so as not to risk rejection or abandonment which would confirm that we are unworthy or not good enough. And when we can't avoid the core hurts and VOS, then we may react in extreme ways to distract from or soothe the pain that might manifest in such things as eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual addictions, and rage.
Oftentimes, clients come into our offices because the coping strategies/reactions themselves are problematic and cause dysfunction in life and relationships. It would be appropriate to address these strategies, but there can be no permanent change unless the Core Hurts and VOS are addressed. It is common for clients to be unaware that their Core Hurts and VOS are driving those coping mechanisms because they have worked so hard, unconsciously, to avoid them - they are oftentimes hidden, implicit. A part of our job as helping professionals is to make explicit what is implicit. This month’s tool focuses on bringing to awareness the client’s VOS and the connection to past Core Hurts that reinforced the VOS.
Peter Cha, LMFT
Clinical Director and Counselor