Core Sadness vs. Wounded Sadness

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Very often, in my work with my clients, when I ask them what they are feeling they say, “I feel sad.” Often, they do not know why they feel sad.

Sadness comes from two very different sources.

Core Sadness

Core sadness is sadness that is in reaction to something that is happening or has happened externally. Many life situations can cause sadness, such as:

  • Loss: loss of people (through death or leaving), loss of a job and financial security, loss of a beloved pet, loss of face through another’s betrayal, loss of health, and so on.
  • Witnessing people’s cruelty to people, animals, and the planet. Witnessing the greed with which many people operate, which harms others and the planet.
  • Witnessing the pain of others that results from natural disasters, such as fires, earthquakes, floods, and so on. As well as witnessing others’ pain as a result of their loss.
  • Being with a person with whom you want to connect and the person’s heart is closed. They are angry or withdrawn and unavailable to sharing caring.

Core sadness needs to be compassionately embraced. We need to be very gentle with ourselves and others when we, or others, are experiencing core sadness. Often, people are afraid of this feeling and other core feelings and turn to various addictions to numb out feelings of sadness, grief, heartbreak, heartache, and sorrow. When we don’t gently and compassionately embrace these feelings, they get stuck in our bodies and can cause other problems, such as acting out with others, addictive behavior, and illness.

Wounded Sadness

Wounded sadness is sadness that we are causing to ourselves by our own self-abandonment. When we have not learned how to take loving care of ourselves and manage our core painful feelings, then we ignore our feelings, judge ourselves, turn to addictions, or make others responsible for our feelings. All these forms of self-abandonment cause our inner #child – which is the feeling part of us – to feel sad and alone inside.

Sometimes people get addicted to wounded sadness as a way of avoiding the core sadness, and avoiding responsibility for managing it.  They hope that by feeling sad, they can get others to take care of them and make them feel better. This is a victim state, and often results in others pulling away, as most people do not want responsibility for another’s feelings.

People who suffer from wounded sadness convince themselves that their sadness is being caused by others not caring about them, or by bad luck, or by God abandoning them. They do not want to accept that they are causing their own sadness with their own self-abandonment. Until they decide that they want responsibility for causing their wounded feelings and for managing their core painful feelings, they will continue to see themselves as victims who need someone to rescue them. They will continue to be addicted to sadness as a way of attempting to manipulate others into taking responsibility for them.

People who tend to be caretakers often get trapped in trying to make a sad victim feel happy, which is exactly what the victim wants. While giving comfort and compassion to someone who is experiencing core sadness due to life situations is very loving and helpful, giving this same comfort and compassion to someone suffering from the wounded sadness that they are causing themselves is like giving an alcoholic a drink – it enables them to continue to abandon themselves.

If you are in a relationship with someone who pulls on you with their wounded sadness to make them happy, it is important for you to compassionately embrace your own core sadness at not being able to connect with them. We cannot connect with someone who is disconnected from themselves, which is always a result of self-abandonment.

Wounded sadness is healed only when a person decides to learn how to develop a loving adult self, capable of taking responsibility for their own feelings. It is the practice of Inner Bonding® that develops the loving adult self.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process – featured on Oprah. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course, and visit our website at for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

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