Of the 12 archetypes Carl Jung identified, the “wounded healer” is perhaps one of the best known. It is the idea that those who seek to help others are doing so because they are, in turn, helping themselves. It does not matter whether you are a teacher, a writer, a physician or an accountant: if you have a desire to help others because of a difficult past, this could very well be you. Here are a few classic signs that you’re a wounded healer, and that your work serving others ultimately heals you, too:
“The wound is where the light enters.” – Rumi
1. When you give other people advice, it feels like you are telling your younger self what you needed to hear. It’s this dynamic that makes you love to help others. Healing them heals you.
2. Since you were little, you’ve known that you wanted to help people. You may not have known how you were going to do it, but you were aware that you wouldn’t be happy unless your life amounted to service in some capacity.
3. Being recognized for your work is both your most intense desire, and your worst fear. You want other people to see you as a healer or teacher or writer or whatever, but at the same time, your deepest, most conflicting fear is being seen in that way.
4. You believe that without struggle, you cannot truly know happiness. You believe that there is a purpose in suffering, and that it is so we can see with complete clarity what it means to be at peace.
5. It’s hard not to let your work become your life. You give everything you have to what you do – and sometimes it’s hard for you to know when to draw a line. Your work is your life, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.
6. You sometimes help too much, and struggle to let people self-heal. You’ve learned the hard way that often, you can tell people the answer, but until they figure it out themselves, it won’t truly resonate.
7. Criticism feels particularly painful to you. As someone who has been deprived of love in some way (that’s what all wounds are made of, FYI) sometimes criticism can sting more than it should (but you pull through).
8. You are grateful for the difficulties you went through. You recognize that the most painful times in your life were the most deeply transformative; without them, you would not be who you are or where you are. They were necessary (and transitory).
9. You are always working on yourself. You are committed to self-growth, and you are always open to ways you could be more open-minded, more loving, or more aware.
10. You want to fix everything, sometimes to a fault. It’s hard for you to see the difference between being a perfectionist and being driven toward the life you want. You often blur the line between dedication and near-insanity.
11. You have a very sound sense of purpose. You know why you’re here, and you know what you’re here to do, even if it’s just be present and be as kind as you can.
12. Your life goal is to know that you helped even just one person, even just a little. You don’t have to save the world, and in fact, you don’t really care to. All you want to know is that you helped at least one person in their life. That, to you, is success.