Getting to know our inner child

Some people may not have learned to disconnect from their inner child as much as others. Some people may be much luckier in having developed a good relationship with their inner child.  Some people (like me) may have struggled with developing and connecting through a relationship with this inner part of us for a long time.

Working through the book Freedom From Your Inner Critic I am now at the point where I am being asked to reconnect with my inner child. Often we can be too blended with the inner critic to ever accept our inner little one as who she or he really is and to accept also how he or she really feels.

Just a moment ago when I had a conversation with my inner child this is what she said to me.

I am so angry with you, all you do is push me all the time to be better and have everything tidy.  I am not allowed to relax or have fun because you are trying so hard to keep everything together just like your mother did.  Well you know what I am so fed up with it, I am so tired, you never let me rest the only way I can make you know how I feel is causing you great pain in your body.  I don’t even really trust that you are going to take care of me.

Phew!!!  Up to this point from 8.30 am I had been on the go apart for a brief respite to have breakfast out with Jasper, along the way while gardening I  cut my finger and then cut my head on a branch sticking out of the climber I was pruning, I then sat down with a headache!!  Its very apparent to me that my inner child is right, I was back in compulsive cleaning and tidying up mode.

This is what Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss say about an inner child who has not been connected to:

in response to the critics attacks… the Child often feels worthless, depressed, hopeless, hurt or ashamed.  ..The Child has been carrying pain that originated when you were young; the Critic is triggering that pain and making it worse.  In IFS an important step in the healing process involves uncovering the situations that caused you pain in the first place.

Ask the Child to show you a memory or image of what happened when you were young to cause it to feel so bad about itself.  It will show you situations….. witness those early memories, relationships, and situations from Self with caring an compassion for the pain of the Child…. it is usually not necessary for you to experience the pain of those situations, just witness them.  However your witnessing must be done from a place of empathy, not a removed or purely intellectual place.

(After witnessing the situations fully)… check to see if the Child feels that you understand how bad it was and, if necessary, have it show you more until it feels you understand it.

Working through this process with some of my memories has been very instructive.  Because I am also aware of how my mother’s inner child suffered in similar ways I have also been making the connection between us.   There was always an intense charge around cleaning in our home and it negated deeper needs for closeness and often the anger and rages that went along with these frenzies of cleaning made me feel very lonely and scared.  This intensity also explains a bit to me about my outburst with my dog Jasper last night when he was following me around.  The dependent self that often gets projected on him was being rejected by me as my mother used to reject me and her mother used to reject her, getting the child to do all the chores so as not to be a bother but leaving the Inner Child sadder and lonelier than before.

Separating out from our Inner Child is essential to the healing process as is witnessing and understanding where its present day pain comes from.  Often we can be blended with the Inner Child and in this situation there is not a separate adult self within us that can take care of the little one and witness feelings without being totally overwhelmed or to use John Lee’s description age regressed. 

The Inner Child within us needs the compassionate loving Adult part of our self to show up and re-parent it, providing an avenue of expression for the Child’s deepest feeling, thoughts and pain in response to deprivation, abandonment or shaming.    The loving adult is the one who in not being blended with the Inner Critic no longer damages the Inner Child over and over just as the Child was damaged in the past by wounding or emotionally unavailable others.  Working in this way also loosens the hold of the Inner Protector which functions to protect the child from harm but does not allow our Adult self to open to, or understand the roots of its pain from the past.

Since connecting with my inner Child’s anger much of the pain and tightness I was previously feeling has eased.

Anger is a valid feeling for an exile (that inner child part of us that has been split off or hidden).  It needs to be witnessed as much as more vulnerable feelings do.

Working with our exiled parts and feelings is essential to helping us overcome the inner criticism which often leads to low self esteem and feelings of depression.  Developing the inner witness and reparenting the exiled child is important inner work we can do to help ourselves heal and understand old injuries.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Getting to know our inner child

  1. This is great. I too have learned to look at my mother in a different light, now that I’ve salvaged some sort of a relationship with my inner child. While I “get” why she is the way she is, I still feel the resulting pain. I’m working on finding a balance between allowing myself to feel what I feel while trying to not be resentful towards her, while trying to honor both of our inner children. Not easy!

    1. Hi Jamivee I was thinking about exactly that this afternoon, when I visited my Mum. I am sure the resentment can breed all kinds of difficulties for us inwardly. Its hard to find a way to express the pain and also accept the pain which we did not choose and had absolutely no power or control over. As you said its difficult. These days I really open my heart in prayer for help with it. I am not entirely sure how this will help, but sometimes I reach the limit of my own capacity and understanding.

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