Interpersonal Communication – Part 2 | Childhood Wounds & The Stories We Tell


This is a summarized version of the content presented in the Effective Interpersonal Communication course. To dive deeper into this topic, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.


Bad communication habits obviously aren’t helpful for interpersonal communication. And while we can acknowledge this, it can often feel like we’re hooked into these bad communication habits. Why is that?

In order to understand our behavior, we must look at the path to action that lies behind it. 

The path to action is how we internalize information from outside our body, process it to make decisions, and take action. There are four components to it:

  1. Facts – This is all the information we take in through our 5 senses. Everything that we see, hear, taste, touch, smell comes into our brain at this stage.
  2. Story – In this phase, our brain assigns meaning to the data that our senses have collected. For example, sound waves that we here are turned into words being spoken to us. We not only deduce what the data is, but why it is. Not only what was said, but why the person said it. Not only what they did but what their intent was for doing it. Our brain puts together a story representing its best guess at what the data means, based on our previous life experiences.
  3. Feelings – Feelings have a physical, chemical existence in our body. This is quite different than how most of us view feelings, isn’t it? In fact, feelings are the product of our glands. Our glands make hormones, and release them into the bloodstream. Since our emotions are the product of our own body, we can exert great influence over them. The key is to understand the stories that are giving instructions to our glands. There is no way to change what it is we are feeling without changing the story that is creating the emotion. 
  4. Actions – Our actions are the results of the three previous stages. Our actions flow from our feelings, which are generated by our stories.
To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

Life Experience

Based on the path to action, the stories we tell ourselves really shape our lives. These stories we tell ourselves are shaped by our life experiences. Our brain draws from previous experiences to interpret our present experiences. These experiences; good, bad, or ugly, shape the lenses through which we see ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Everyone has wounds from previous life experiences. When physical, emotional, or spiritual needs are not met, it creates a wound in us.
or all of us, our life experience includes situations that have left us wounded. Some more severely than others. The question isn’t if you have wounds, but which wounds do you have and to what degree do they influence your life today.

What are these basic needs that, when unmet, create wounds?

Basic Safety/Security
We need to be safe and have our basic physical needs provided for. Having a safe place, free from excessive fear, allows us to develop our God-given potential. When this need is unmet we develop wounds of Abandonment or Mistrust and Abuse.

Connection to Others
We need healthy attachment to people, especially those closest to us. We need to receive attention from those we care about to feel connected emotionally with them. We also need a sense of connection socially with a community. When these needs are not met in healthy ways, we develop wounds of Emotional Deprivation and Social Exclusion.

God created us with a limited autonomy over our lives, including real choice – reflecting His unlimited autonomy and choice. We need to feel like we have the power to exist autonomously and the freedom to direct our lives, the ability to function independently as adults. Otherwise, we form wounds of Dependence and Vulnerability.

We need to feel like we have value and are worthwhile in our personal, social, and work lives. We need to know we have something of value to offer that gives a sense of purpose to our life. Otherwise we feel shame about who we are and develop wounds of Defectiveness and Failure.

God has given us a voice and a responsibility to demonstrate with our lives who He has created us to be in our generation. We have a need to be aware of and give expression to our needs, feelings, and passions. Our needs matter as much as the needs of the next person God created. God has designed us for fun and play as much as He has for work and service. We need freedom to live with spontaneity without inordinate inhibition. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are reasonable endeavors. If self-expression is smothered or overly restricted, we form wounds of Subjugation and Unrelenting Standards.

Realistic Limits
God designed life to be lived within healthy limits and boundaries that honor His design. While we need self-expression without being overly controlled, we also need healthy limits. Otherwise, we seek the fulfillment of our needs and wants at the expense and disregard of others. God calls us to develop and exercise self-control, accepting realistic internal and external limits on our behavior. In the absence of this self-control we develop the wound Entitlement.

When Life Experiences Bump Into Wounds

When theses wounds are bumped into by life circumstances in our present, they evoke intense feelings of fear. It’s this fear that sends us into the silence or violence that sabotages our communication. Being aware of the things we are feeling, called “emotional intelligence,” enables us to communicate what we are feeling and to work through the stories that lay behind them.

Cheering you on!

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST
Founder & Director of MyCounselor.Online

To dive deeper into this topic of Effective Interpersonal Communication, check out the full Effective Interpersonal Communication course.

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