Have you ever felt hard done by, made a mistake, felt foolish or embarrassed? Been given negative feedback or lost an argument? These things are natural occurrences through our careers – we’re human, we have mishaps and tough stuff happens.

These negative incidents, although painful, do shape us in a positive way through the lessons we learn and the developments we take away from each experience. However, they also ‘wound’ us because often our natural response is to take them personally and to dwell on them, building things up until the memory has even more pain and impact in our mind than the original incident itself. These things can often be found in the root of our self-limiting beliefs and fears, stopping us from achieving the success we want in our careers and out of our performance.

For continued growth and success, identifying, naming and understanding that you have ‘wounds’ which you may still be licking is important. It allows you to understand why perhaps you feel unconfident at times, why procrastination kicks in, why your mind insists on overthinking certain situations, why some relationships are a struggle and why sometimes despite our best intentions we simply can’t move forward.

It doesn’t have to be big negative experiences which ‘wound’ us, small incidents can be just as effective in leaving us scarred. If you are feeling like you have hit a wall, stuck or not as successful as you would want to be then I’d suggest a little investment in exploring what past experiences could be holding you back. Which wounds you may still be licking. Perhaps..

  • The critical line manager who once uttered some harsh words around your writing abilities
  • Dropping a cup of coffee the moment you started to set up for an important presentation
  • Finding out someone has been talking about you behind your back
  • Losing your temper under pressure and taking things out on your team members
  • Emailing an internal document to a client
  • Having a painful new business call with a rude and impatient prospect
  • Losing a pitch because you misunderstood the brief
  • Being over looked for a promotion
  • Getting made redundan

Past mistakes, conversations and other negative occurrences which left you ‘wounded’ will continue to show up unless you attend to the story at the heart of the wound. They hold you back, influence who you are today, the decisions you make, your willingness to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, your confidence and they fuel self-doubt battles. They influence what we believe in the present and stop us in our tracks. They manifest themselves as defensive behaviour, low self-esteem and lack of self-belief.

In coaching, I remind my clients that by identifying an incident which has caused pain we are not seeking to fix, analyse and judge ourselves on the past. Our focus is on spotting things which have previously happened and which are limiting us in some way in the present, or which could trip us in the future if it continues to lie hidden in the subconscious. Awareness is a key self-leadership foundation for success as it helps you create clarity to focus action on change. Being curious and exploring your own history is a good path to awareness.

When you are licking your ‘wounds’ you are in protection mode and are in the process of building yourself back up. You are to all intents and purposes saying you are not ready yet to face similar situations, tasks and people. But what if you are ready? In fact, what if you are more than ready ever before as you have gained a level of insight which has made you stronger in the face of the same and similar challenges right now and in the future.

So, could you be licking some old wounds which are stopping you leading yourself effectively and stopping you achieving more success career and performance each day?

Learn more from Victoria and participate in her new online coaching mid career clarity programme or listen to her podcast the mid life ramble


  • Victoria Walsh

    Executive and Career Coach, Helping individuals and teams transform and grow so that every day can be a best day

    Victoria is a certified Executive and Career coach helping individuals and teams grow and transform so they can achieve more success whilst maintaining a healthy and meaningful life. With over 20 years of team management and board leadership experience, her programmes and workshops help sharpen skills, create change and reinforce positive wellbeing in careers and within the workplace so that more people can begin to feel that every day can be a best day.