Integrating our child self


Last week I shared some content from Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process about how important rediscovering the original innocence of our inner child is.  Unfortunately as we grow and are subjected to upsets in the course of our development we learn that this innocence is not so, we may feel we are bad for expressing certain emotions or having certain needs.   When we have tried to express our pain or distress with our parents, often we were not responded to with unconditional support.  We may have learned to distract ourselves or deny what we feel, we may carry anger, hurt, sadness or fear in response to what has happened to us.

Unfortunately such feelings don’t go away but remain locked deep within us in what MB calls emotional charge located deep inside our body at a felt level though just below our conscious awareness. However these feelings can be accessed if we apply a process of being present when we experience our distress instead of seeking ways to distract, numb or run away.

This process involves being a caring adult to our inner child.  Michael has this to say :

If we haven’t consciously interacted with our child self before, then our current relationship with it is similar to that of a parent who has for many years abandoned their child.  At about the age of seven, our childhood experience is deliberately redirected in preparation to enter the adult world.  This requires a willingness to turn around and walk away from our childhood.

As the years unfold, it’s unlikely we will choose to look back and consider the state of the child we once were.  We lay a blanket of forgetfulness over this aspect of our experience and openly admit we can’t remember much of what happened to us when we were children  For this reason, we may no longer be aware of our child self even though it continually watches everything.  We seemingly no longer feel the unintegrated aspects of its condition, despite the fact our adult discomfort is a mirror of this unintegrated charge.

We are so out of touch with how our child self affects us in the present that we may ask “Why now go back and face the past?   Why not leave the past alone and carry on with our life?”

Often the wider society around us reinforces this view. How often is the childhood of celebrities who meet a harsh end through suicide or other trauma explored at a deeper level?  People shake their heads and say “he or she was so popular, why did this happen?”, when the truth is that despite the acclaim, attention or outer recognition that person received perhaps it was for a  false self they learned to adopt, a dark humour which covered up a far deeper wound to their self esteem and self belief that remained hidden or was carried alone deep inside that they found it difficult to share with anyone else and felt the need to mask.

Meeting the inner child’s pain is the most loving thing we can do for ourselves on the path of healing. Knowing and revisiting or original pain or wounds can bring a deeper understanding and liberation from the past, freeing us to be more present and less likely to attract repeated traumas that are old unconscious replays.  Being able to grieve and own the fact of our pain and wounds allow us to know that there is nothing wrong with us for feeling sad or depressed or less than and that really all of these deep feelings make great sense in the right context. As children we may have been shamed for them by adults who were wounded children themselves but if we can see and recognise this we can free ourselves from unnecessary shame.

Being present for our inner child as a loving inner mother and father to this child will allow us to integrate this deepest part of us that has so much to teach us about who we really are and how we feel and what we really, truly need inside.  It will show us a door into our secret heartache and then we will find the words to speak about it feel it, acknowledge it, accept it and free it.

The price of our liberation can be pain.  But it is far better in the long run to allow ourselves to feel this pain than to keep denying it and leaving it trapped inside.  For to do so is to shut the door on a most essential part of us that is so necessary to our healing. and can only be shut out and exiled at great cost.

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