The Web address of this
Clicking underlined links below will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This brief YouTube video will introduce you to Lesson 1:
This article will guide you through the first of seven self-improvement
They exist to help protect you and your family from
unawareness. This lesson assumes you have
meet other people
from many countries interested in freeing their true Selves to guide them in this free
FaceBook group .
Why Study This Lesson?
From 36 years'
professional study and research, this self-study lesson will help
you answer these questions:
I significantly traumatized as a young child? If so, how?
psychologically wounded and carrying significant inner pain? If so, what
does that mean?
are the talented subselves that determine my personality?
Who's running my
life - my
true Self, or "someone else"?
How can I
reduce my wounds and live a more satisfying, productive life?
in danger if passing on psychological wounds to my kids? If so, how can
I protect them?
can I spot other wounded people and relate to them?
can I judge the functionality (healthy > toxic) of any group, like my family,
workplace, and church?
can I help others break the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle?
Notice what you're thinking and feeling now.
At least 90% of the 1,000+ typical American adults I've met
as a family-systems therapist and educator have shown clear symptoms
of up to six psychological
early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma):
1) a fragmented personality and
a disabled true Self. This causes:
2) excessive shame ("low self
esteem") and excessive guilts;
3) excessive anxieties and fears
of failure, criticism, rejection, abandonment, intimacy, loss of
control. and of the unknown;
4) difficulties with self-trust
and interpersonal trust;
5) significant reality
distortions like chronic denial, minimizing, idealizing,
catastrophizing, projecting, intellectualizing, and numbing;
Combinations of these wounds can cause...
6) difficulty feeling. bonding,
empathizing, and loving.
wounded people also appeared to be largely unaware of these vital
The unseen combination of
psychological wounds and unawareness promotes most personal, family, and
social problems. Hundreds of comments on my Break the Cycle! YouTube
videos and FaceBook group from over 40 countries around the world suggest that
inherited [wounds + unawareness] are
global stressors, not just American or Western.
Until recognized and reduced,
psychological wounds + unawareness...
relationships, healthy mourning, and effective communication
and parenting - i.e. they significantly lower the
nurturance level (functionality)
of most relationships, families, and organizations, and they amplify inner
And unrecognized wounds + unawareness...
inner pain and addictions, obesity, homelessness, crime, depression, abortions,
divorce, isolation, "mental illness," dropouts, gangs, fanaticism, bankruptcies,
hopelessness, crime, suicide, and other
major personal and social problems.
my professional opinion, these six wounds cause most or all (?)
non-biological "mental health" problems, like personality and mood
disorders, PTSD, paranoias, neuroses, delusions,; dissociation,
impulse-control problems, hysteria, "panic attacks," depression, obsessions,
compulsions, and so on,
One implication is that most traditional mental-health diagnoses and
treatments (including psychotropic medications) are superficial and
misleading. They focus on reducing the symptoms, not the underlying
wounds. Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy
(Part 3 in this lesson)
coupled with education like this ad-free online
course seems to provide
permanent wound reduction for most childhood-trauma survivors.
Web site calls adult survivors of childhood trauma
Grown Wounded Children or GWCs. Lay literature calls us
Adult Children (of toxic parents or
your reaction is
"Well I'M not a GWC!" note that denial (reality
distortion) is a common psychological wound.
To see whether you're a GWC, get
undistracted and review this and
this. Double-check your responses
with trusted adults who know you well. If you feel you're not
significantly wounded, this lesson can still be useful - specially if you
care for young people.
guidebook for Lesson 1 is "Who's
Really Running Your Life?Free Your true Self and
Guard Your Kids" (4th edition, Xlibris.com,
2011). It provides most of the same information as these Web pages, and is
available in print and e-book formats. It provides portability for Lesson 1
ideas when online access isn't feasible.
The guidebook is not required to do Lesson 1.If you have an earlier edition of this
(4th edition) book,
NOTE - If you follow underlined links in any Lesson-1 page,
disregard the blue box and links at the top of the new page that
says "This article assumes you have read..." That paragraph is for people
entering the Web site who are not following the lesson guides in order.
Also, some lesson-1 pages will refer you to pages in later lessons as a
preview. Don't follow any inks in such pages to stay focused on this
Before You Start this Lesson
Inherited psychological wounds and
dysfunctional (wound-promoting) environments cause chronic inner pain:
guilt + shame + fears + emptiness + loneliness + hopelessness. A common
unconscious human reflex to distract from this pain is addiction.
Addictionsto mind-altering chemicals
like ethyl alcohol and nicotine distort perceptions and hinder healthy
thinking. If you compulsively use chemicals - including prescribed
medications - to manage or reduce inner pain, that will probably slow or
block your benefitting from this lesson.
To see if you're overusing or addicted to some mind-altering chemical/s
including food, search the Web on "symptoms of alcoholism / substance
abuse / chemical dependence." Here's a
sample of what you'll find. Note that the common wounds of shame
and reality distortion promote minimizing and denial ("I wasn't traumatized
as a child / am not wounded / have no inner pain / am not addicted.")
If you may be or are addicted to a
chemical ,you can
1) get and
stay sober for at least a year before working to reduce GWC
some progress at addiction recovery and then start healing your wounds
(inner pain); or you can...
3) use the
wound-reduction strategy in Part 3 of this lesson to help you get and
stay sober as you heal.
Trust your own
wisdom to make the best choice. Note that "recovery" can mean "achieve
sobriety from an addiction" or "reduce inherited psychological
What follows is
the step-by-step assignment guide to this
lesson. It is the basis for the other six lessons in this Web site.
Expect this lesson to take several
weeks or months to complete. For full benefit, I
suggest you do NOT skip around among these assignments. They build on each
There are 52 "assignments"
(quizzes, articles, reprints, and worksheets) comprising
Lesson 1. Take your time, and study them in order.
View this as a high-return
long-term investment of your time and energy.
Option - keep a log or journal of your experience as you do
these assignments. Also consider finding one or more study partners and
do this Lesson together.
If you're an
auditory or visual learner, get the essence of Lesson 1
by viewing the YouTube videos on
psychological wounds and working with your
personality subselves ("parts work"). They take about 10 hours
to view. Many articles in Lesson 1 begin with one of these
brief videos. You can also listen to this 1'20" YouTube
interview focused on wounds, recovery, and healthy
''parts work'' to free your true Self
to guide you,
harmonize your "inner family" of subselves, and
your psychological wounds
and inner pain; and...
Learn how to spot and
relate to psychologically-wounded adults and kids.
all four parts first.
If you feel daunted by all the assignments,
consider this possible shortcut to Part
3 and learning how to free your true Self using "parts work".
Each assignment below is best done when you're not distracted physically or
mentally. Option: print this page and use it as a checklist to track your
Part 1 - Learn
about Early Trauma,
Personalities, and Wounds
When you're undistracted, read the articles below in order with an open mind. Expect to take
several weeks or more to complete this study.
These foundation ideas will
facilitate long-term wound-healing (recovery).
This part of lesson 1 will teach you about...
abandonment, neglect, and abuse;
Human personalities (like
yours), and about...
psychological wounds that pass down the generations unless parents prevent that;
About Early-childhood Trauma
__ 1) Compare the premises underlying this nonprofit Web site with your beliefs.
__ 25) Verify your new knowledge about
wounds and personalities with this quiz
If you have questions or comments on these Part-1 ideas, please
This basic education will prepare you to (a) assess yourself and your
significant effects from the [wounds + unawareness] cycle, and to (b)
decide whether to reduce the impacts. That will promote
more satisfying communications, relationships, grieving, and wholistic
health for the rest of your life!
Pause and notice what
you're (subselve2s are) thinking and feeling now. Consider
journaling about them. When your refreshed and undistracted, put your
new foundation knowledge to work:
1, Part 2 - Assess Yourself
and Your Family for Wounds
are widespread in most (all?) cultures.
The wounds range from mild to severe. Most Grown Wounded Children
(GWCs) are unaware of their wounds because of denial and
social ignorance (lack of knowledge). Implication -
you and people you care about may be living with
disabled true Selves and enduring preventable stress
without knowing it.
__ 27) If
you have questions about wounds or wound-assessment, check this
If you feel you do have significant psychological wounds,
continue with Part 3 below. If you're not sure, ask someone you trust
to be objective (like a counselor) to review this summary and give you an
opinion on who's running your life. If you feel your wounds aren't significant (by your standards),
skip to Part 4. Even if you're minimally
wounded, you can still benefit from Lessons
2 thru 6 or 7
in this self-improvement Web site.
Now you're ready to learn how to use "parts work" to reduce your
wounds and free your true Self to guide you. Do you need a break now?
Lesson 1, Part 3 -
Free Your true Self and
Reduce Your Wounds
One key to protecting your family and descendents from major stress is to admit and reduce significant
The other key is to convert
unawareness and ignorance into knowledge.
That's why this self-improvement course exists.
If you feel you're
significantly wounded (controlled by false selves), this part of
lesson 1 will guide you through an
effective personal wound-reduction ("recovery") process.
Option - if you want an overview of this
part, view all 15 videos in the
Lesson-1 YouTube playlist 1c in order(about 3
hours). If you commit to
personal wound-reduction, I recommend you do all the Part-3
"assignments" below in order. Many of the assignments include one
or more of the videos.
video on what to expect as you reduce your wounds;
__ 31) Study this perspective on hitting "true
bottom." If you haven't clearly hit yours, view these steps as a valuable
learning experience (a trial recovery), and go ahead.
__ 32) Read this
8-page guide to "parts work" (inner family
therapy). This is one effective way to reduce your wounds over time. Other
clinicians propose different ways to help you recover from toxic parents and
My experience as a veteran (recovering) therapist is that
other recovery methods are apt to be superficial and take longer. Exceptions
are Voice Dialog,
Eye-Movement Desensitization and Retraining (EMDR).
Christians may find Theophostic
__ 33) Consider
shopping for a qualified parts-work therapist in your area.
See selfleadership.org for
leads and helpful resources. I'm a 1992 graduate of their training program.
__ 34) Meditate on
this update of the well-known 12 Steps and
consider creating and living by your version of it.
__ 35) Decide if
you want to tell key people what you're doing, and why. Expect others to not
know about subselves and/or to be skeptical of
parts work. If they are, refer them to
http://sfhelp.org/fam/cycle.htm without preaching.
If you can find someone else interested in or already doing parts-work,
consider teaming up with them. Know that some personality subselves pretend to
want to recover, but aren't really committed. They're not "bad," they're
scared, and need patient reassurance and encouragement.
__ 36)Evolve a
list of your subselves, and group them as Managers, Inner
Kids, and Guardians or Firefighters. Follow the guidelines in this
__ 38) Start
with most active subselves who you feel don't know or trust your true Self
them one at a time, and (a) confirm their distrust, and (b) start
negotiating to build their trust. Use the parts-work steps and techniques outlined
here.- ideally with the help of a trained
inner-family systems (IFS) therapist.
39) Patiently repeat this process
with each Inner Child and protective Guardian subself who causes your wounds
and troublesome thoughts and behaviors. Keep in mind there are no "bad"
subselves. They all mean to help, but often retain outdated or distorted
information from your early life and unaware caregivers.
asking yourself "Who's in charge
now: my true Self (capital 'S') or someone
else? You're "done" with this wound-reduction process when you usually
answer "My Self."
__ 41) As you
progress at these steps,
periodically reread this overview of
wound-reduction and/or the
Running Your Life?" (4th edition).
__ 42) Review your options for improving your _
self-respect, self love, and _ self confidence.
These increase as you free your true Self and reduce the wounds of excessive shame
and reality distortion
Review and reflect on this brief YouTube
video on understanding and
protecting your integrity. It's the root of your priceless self
respect and healthy pride.
__ 44) Raise your awareness of
the importance of physical human contact, and
discover whether you're getting enough nourishing touching..
__ 45) If you have
problems with self control, consider these
__ 46) If you
have problems with excessive procrastination, see this brief YouTube
video. If you struggle with
"laziness," see this brief video.
__ 47) Review these
titles about "Adult Children" (Grown Wounded Children)
Option - scan this link-index of
Lesson-1 resources, and (re)read any that now seem relevant to you and your
Lesson 1, Part 4 -
Learn how to spot and
relate to wounded people
As you experience wound-reduction benefits, you'll become more aware
of others who are wounded and don't realize they're ruled by false selves. Common
responses are to pity, judge, and/or rescue them. This
is specially true for wounded mates,
friends, and respected (and vexing) relatives.
48) Use this behavioral comparison
to recognize people ruled by false selves. For a more detailed tool,
52)Tell receptive others about the [wounds +
unawareness] cycle, what you're learning here, and about any benefits
you're experiencing from this Lesson.
+ + +
As you progress
with these assignments, notice any shifts in your attitudes, reactions,
and behaviors that feel "significant." Be alert for others'
comments on such changes. I
suggest you also progress at
- improve your communication effectiveness. These two Lessons use and
amplify each other.
Stay aware that
you may "complete" these assignments, but learning from them really has no end. As you gain knowledge and awareness and
free your true Self to guide you, your version of these ideas will become a
way of life.
This is the first of seven self-improvement study guides in the nonprofit Break the
Cycle! Web site. This guide outlines 52 practical steps to help free your wise
true Self and reduce significant psychological wounds. The steps are in four
Learn about personality
subselves and Grown Wounded Children (GWCs);
Assess yourself for
Evolve and act on an effective plan
to free your true Self and reduce your wounds; and...
Learn how to spot and
react to significantly-wounded people
Benefits from the other
six Lessons in this
self-improvement Web site all depend on progress with this one.
learn something about yourself with this question anonymous