Navigating self-discovery and emotional connection

Life is a tapestry woven with threads of emotions, relationships, and self-awareness. Within this intricate fabric, we encounter three essential aspects of our being the three selves. These are the survivor self, the wounded self, and the authentic self. Each self uniquely shapes our experiences, influences our connections, and guides our journey toward emotional fulfilment. In this article, I will delve into each of these selves, explore the concept of the three selves, explore the significance of emotional connection, and discover practical ways to open ourselves up to our emotions.


A holistic perspective of the three selves: 

The survivor self

The survivor self is our primal protector, the guardian of our emotional safety. From childhood, we develop survival strategies to shield ourselves from pain. These strategies, often unconscious, help us navigate life’s challenges. However, what worked as a child may hinder our growth as adults and the meaningful formation of relationships. The inner critic, an ever-present voice of doubt and self-critique, is a sharp survivor strategy. While it aims to keep us safe, it can also hold us back from embracing our full humanity. To fully experience life, it is essential to challenge any self-doubt.

The wounded self

The wounded self carries the scars of past hurts and unhealed emotions. It’s the repository of pain, grief, and unresolved experiences stored not only in the mind but also in the body. These can be past events such as a difficult breakup, a traumatic event, or a loss. We inadvertently prolong our suffering when we suppress complicated feelings such as sadness, anger, or loneliness. However, facing these emotions mindfully allows us to process them fully. As we release old wounds, we create space for joy, gratitude, and inner peace. The Wounded Self teaches us empathy, resilience, and the art of compassionate self-care.

The authentic self

The authentic self embodies our essence, the unfiltered, unapologetic version of us. It transcends our expectations, masks, and pretences. Connecting with our authentic selves, we experience alignment, purpose, and freedom. The self seeks genuine connections, values vulnerability, and embraces imperfection. Authenticity invites us to be friends first with ourselves and then with others. It’s the foundation of emotional connection. This is a process often of making peace with ourselves and whatever the past has thrown at us.

The heart of emotional connection

Emotional connection is more than shared interests or intellectual compatibility. It’s the unspoken language between souls, a resonance that transcends words. Here’s why emotional connection matters.

  • Safety and security: Like an anchor, emotional connection stabilises relationships. It provides protection, allowing us to weather storms together and sail into calmer waters. We feel seen, heard, and understood, a fundamental human need for validation.
  • Insight and empathy: Tuning into our emotions reveals subtle physical sensations. This awareness offers insight into our inner world. As we understand our feelings, we become more empathetic toward others.
  • Setting boundaries: Emotional connection empowers us to set boundaries. We recognise when certain feelings no longer serve us, allowing us to protect our well-being.

Opening to your emotions mindfully

To embrace your emotional self:

  • Create space: Setting aside time for feeling 20 minutes can make a difference.
    Minimise distractions and create a soothing environment. 
  • Notice your feelings: Pay attention to physical sensations connected to emotions. Journal your experiences to deepen self-awareness.
  •  Be friends first: Prioritise friendship in relationships. Value each other’s thoughts and enjoy companionship.
  • Care about needs and desires: Show empathy and compassion. Stay attuned to your partner’s needs and challenges. 

Remember, emotional connection is the glue that holds relationships together. It transforms ordinary bonds into extraordinary ones. So, ride the waves of emotion with courage and self-compassion. They will lead you to greater wisdom and freedom.

Our emotions are compass points guiding us toward our unique truth. As we embrace discomfort, we discover more profound layers of ourselves. So, let the waves crash and ride them toward the horizons you never imagined. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London E1 & E14
Written by David Pender, MBACP, Integrative Psychotherapy | Specialising in Anxiety
London E1 & E14

David S. Pender is a qualified BACP therapist who provides counselling and psychotherapy services to adults throughout London & the UK. He has extensive experience in dealing with problems related to relationships, anxiety, trauma, social anxiety, panic attacks, generalised anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Free discovery calls

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