Unmasking our Ego to live more fully
An excellent book that I tend to go back to and introduce to my clients, is Heal Your Wounds & Find Your True Self from Lise Bourbeau. We all have a past and as humans one of our biggest challenges is to let go. Our past defines us. Past memories, good or bad, build our identity, our feeling and perception of who we are. As a consequence, past traumas can hinder our potential and impact our everyday lives in ways that we might not even be aware of. This is why I love Lise Bourbeau’s simple yet groundbreaking concept of the five emotional wounds which I will go over in this article.
Lise Bourbeau is well known for researching human behavior. She became a specialist in the decoding of the mind/ body/ emotional connection in all illnesses and ailments. Over several years, she gave many workshops and trainings to help people listen to their bodies and make concrete changes in their everyday life. From this work, came her world-shaking concept of the five emotional wounds, which are deeply rooted emotional traumas that can affect our lives and relationships. These wounds are thoroughly categorized and explained in her book which serves as compass to identify our own wounds.
According to her studies, these wounds were created during childhood but can have a long-standing impact throughout our lives, influencing the way we perceive ourselves, others, and the world around us. They can be formed through various negative experiences, traumatic events, and interactions with caregivers, family members, peers, or authority figures during the formative years of a person's life. These wounds are essentially:
1. Rejection: This emotional wound stems from feelings of unacceptance or abandonment by others, leading to a sense of unworthiness and fear of being alone.
2. Abandonment: The wound of abandonment is related to experiences of being left behind or neglected, resulting in a fear of being deserted and difficulties forming deep connections with others.
3. Humiliation: This wound arises from experiences of being belittled or shamed, causing a lack of self-esteem and a fear of being judged by others.
4. Betrayal: The wound of betrayal occurs when trust is broken, leading to feelings of betrayal, anger, and a fear of vulnerability.
5. Injustice: This emotional wound is associated with experiences of unfair treatment or inequality, leading to feelings of resentment and a belief that life is inherently unfair.
The most surprising takeaway of her concept is that over time our Ego has created a different masks for each of these wounds as a defense mechanism. These masks are ways of hiding or covering up our true feelings, vulnerabilities, and fears. The result is that many of us don’t express and might not even be consciously aware of these emotional wounds. Instead, we express whatever the traits of the mask we carry. Sadly, Lise Bourbeau explains that this attempt of the Ego to put up a mask in order to not ever be hurt again only attracts more pain, and more of those same circumstances throughout of lives in which we will repeatedly suffer from rejection, abandonment, humiliation, betrayal or injustice, further strengthening the emotional pattern within us.
Even more surprising is the understanding that some of these emotional wounds might not have been created by the actual experience of rejection, abandonment, humiliation, betrayal or injustice. They might have been created solely from the way we interpreted certain experiences as a child. So, we might not have been physically abandoned but somehow our caregivers might have acted in a way that we interpreted at the time as abandonment. Nevertheless, during childhood, we are highly impressionable and vulnerable, and experiences that we live or interpret as hurtful, can leave deep emotional imprints on our psyche.
The only way to stop these wounds and corresponding masks to perpetually hurt us is to first of all be able to identify which masks we carry. For this purpose, I strongly advise you to read Lise Bourbeau’s book but here you can find a quick description of the mask you adopt for each of the wounds:
1. Rejection - The "Fleeing" mask: A fleeing person doubts of their right to exist and seeks solitude. He considers he has no value at all and is unattached to material things to make it easier for him to flee. He finds different ways to escape (might be in his own head) and feels misunderstood.
2. Abandonment - The "Dependent" mask: This mask is characterized by the need to have company, receive attention and support. A person with this mask often feels and acts like a victim, is fusional and craves others help. They don’t believe they can make things by themselves and often have ups and downs.
3. Humiliation - The "Masochist" mask: People with this mask are often ashamed of themselves, of others or are afraid to cause embarrassment. They know their needs but don’t attend to them. They put too much on themselves and are self-contained to avoid embarrassment. They feel dirty and think less of themselves. They are ashamed of their sensuality and have a fear of being punished for feeling joy. They compensate for their different needs with food.
4. Betrayal - The "Controller" mask: People adopting this mask develop a need for control, become guarded in relationships, and may manipulate or exert power over others to prevent themselves from being betrayed again. They feel strong and responsible and often impose their view on others. They lie easily, are manipulative and seductive. They act quickly and have a hard time being vulnerable or being sensitive.
5. Injustice - The "Rigid" mask: People with this mask are perfectionists. They have a difficulty in admitting that they are experiencing problems. They block their feelings and have a deep fear of losing control. They are always justifying themselves and striving for perfection. They can be harsh with themselves and others and they lack flexibility.
A fun note is that these masks have an impact on us at every level. The deeper a wound is, the easier it will be to identify it in strangers just by looking at their physique, how they dance or even the car they own!
At the end of the day, I find Lise Bourbeau’s work enlightening for two reasons. Firstly, because she clearly identifies how and which emotional blockages can persist into adulthood and influence how we perceive ourselves and the others. Second, because once we have identified the emotional wounds we carry and their corresponding masks, we have the power to drop these masks. We can let go of these characteristics and more easily step into our true, creative and unique power: our true Self.