Transcript excerpt from my October 23, 2013 on A Fine Time for Healing entitled
The expression, “inner child,” may sound like a bunch of psycho babble to you. I would venture to say that most adults believe they have grown up and left their childhood behind.
I never used to give much credence to inner child psychology, but I have come to understand the crucial role it plays in many of our lives. We cannot be psychologically or emotionally whole until our wounded inner child is brought forth and healed. As adults our lives are constantly being directed and influenced by it. So understanding and connecting to this hidden part of our selves can bring forth profound life changes.
The inner child is a powerful entity, separate from our waking conscious minds, that carries the wounds of past traumas and impacts much of what we say and do as adults. It is a protective device, similar to a defense mechanism, triggered by reminders of these wounded aspects of our selves.
The inner child is an innocent, playful little child that dwells within us; our concealed true self, the way we once were. It is a part of our personality that still feels childlike and reacts just as a child would, both positively and negatively.
Our inner child is the summation of everything we learned and experienced as pre-adolescent children. It is a part of our psyche that is believed to have retained every impactful sensory impression from our childhoods.
Our inner child is hidden for a reason—it conceals those feelings and memories that were traumatic for us; experiences that caused us to suffer but were never emotionally dealt with because we didn’t know how to handle them. These feelings and memories got buried deep within us, often for many decades.
It is painful to face this child that resides within us; a child who may have felt unloved, unaccepted, uncared for, or unprotected; a child who may have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by the same people who were supposed to care for and protect him. This child may still be suffering the wounds from having been bullied, criticized, or degraded. He or she may be suffering from the traumatic emotional impact of being ignored by parents, teachers, siblings, friends, or classmates; people close to him who made him feel undeserving or unlovable.
This child may have been denied his or her childhood innocence, or given inappropriate adult responsibilities such as caring for himself, caring for his parent, or caring for his siblings. He may have become hyper-aware of the emotions of his caretakers in an effort to try to ward off their abuse. Bottom line is, he never felt safe; emotionally or physically.
Sometimes those who have hurt us did not do so intentionally or knowingly. We can just as easily be influenced and hurt by the behavior modeled for us by our primary caretakers; behavior from those who have unaddressed childhood issues of their own. We may have been raised in an environment that was controlling or overly critical, that denied the expression of our feelings or individuality, or by parents who withheld their love and affection. Since children are emotionally limited in their capacity to process this negative feedback, they can be left with broken spirits feeling that they are unwanted, that the treatment they receive is their own fault, or that there is just something wrong with them.
Children are not equipped to process these complicated emotions in a healthy way. They do not know how to cope with what happens to them. Some children will act out in unhealthy ways. Others will build walls around them. And some will bury layers upon layers of their painful feelings deep inside of them to avoid having to feel them.
This pattern of running away, numbing, and suppressing follows us into adulthood. We become afraid to feel anything because we are fearful of opening the can of worms inside us. Though our pain remains hidden, aspects of it will rise to the surface when triggered in the form of depression or anger. That is because our inner child is stuck in time just as an earthbound ghost is. They are still living in the past, and re-living their trauma over and over.
Many things can trigger our repressed emotional pain. For instance, if we were criticized as children we are likely to be triggered by criticism in adulthood. But not only does the outside stimulus trigger repressed childhood emotions; it also aggravates and reinforces the self-critic within us. These triggered childhood memories distort our normal perceptions causing us to react in ways that are overly emotional or irrational. Our maturity goes out the window; we respond just as a child would.
If we don’t understand the pathology of our behavior, these rapidly shifting emotions or sudden outbursts may leave us wondering if we might be suffering from some kind of personality disorder. That is always a possibility, but the erratic behavior is more likely to be rooted in our wounded inner child.
We may have physically grown up but not emotionally. Everyone ages but not everyone becomes an adult. Our budding ego and still-developing personalities are right where we abandoned them; stunted and childlike.
With all that dysfunction living inside us we cannot become mature adults. Being an adult means being emotionally self-sufficient. It means accepting, nurturing, and loving ourselves. It means having control of and taking full responsibility for our words, actions, and reactions. It means steering our own lives in a healthy way.
A mature adult doesn’t deny, neglect, or denigrate their emotional and psychological needs. They are not self-destructive, self-critical, self-sabotaging, or self-defeating. Mature adults do not fight against or suppress the vulnerabilities and insecurities that exist within them. They don’t blame others for their inadequacies and weaknesses.
Those who carry a wounded child within may feel fearful, insecure, doubtful, shameful, lost, or lonely. They may suffer from low self-esteem, moodiness, or depression. They may be childish in the ways they act out; impulsively, impetuously, and aggressively. Or they may live in the past more than they live in the present.
They may feel the need to tell their painful childhood stories to anyone who will listen, casting themselves in the role of victim, doing everything they can to keep the past alive.
Their relationships may be immature, unhealthy, or destructive because of their fear of intimacy, fear of abandonment, or trust issues; or because of their neediness, over responsibility, irresponsibility, or dependency.
Thoughts of childhood events may bring sadness, fear, anger, resentment, or guilt feelings out of the depths and up to the surface where they are experienced with great intensity. These intense feelings may cause them to panic, act out defensively, withdraw from others, or become cold and stoic.
There are many people who live with their inner child and never realize it or demonstrate it. They aren’t aware of how much energy they expend on the covert inner struggle they have every moment of every day. They go through all the motions in life with apparent normalcy; they have long-term relationships, many friends, and are successful in their careers. But something always feels like its missing. There always seems to be a hole inside them they can never fill. No matter how much others build them up, they never feel good enough.
The wounded child may be invisible but he is still there, buried deep inside, always trying to get our attention. He runs amok in the realm of our subconscious. Denying or ignoring his existence will not make him go away. He continuously lets us know in ways both obvious and subtle that he needs our help; that he wants us to love and care for him.
This segment represents less than half of the thirty minute show. To listen to this show in its entirety, please go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/randi-fine/2013/10/23/reparenting-the-wounded-inner-child
I am available to talk about any life issues that are concerning you. Private, confidential. http://clarity.fm/randi-g-fineRead more about the Inner Child: Silent Plea of Inner Child Picture Quote Healing the Child Within Pursuing Optimal Emotional Wellness Unconditionally Loved Children Blossom Grow Soar Self Respect Personal Bill of Rights Healing Inner Child Picture Quote