Healing The Inner Child

‘I need you to…

Be there for me (consistently).
Notice me,
Hear me,
Hold me,
Love me,
Show me some emotion.

Have time for me,
Listen to me,
Pay an interest in me,
Look after me,
Support me,
Have my back,
Give me your undivided attention.

Make me feel like I matter,
Give me some input,
Nurture me,
Encourage me,
Understand me,
Allow me to be me,
Be proud of me,
GET ME!!!

At the very least…
Like me,
Show me that you are trying,
Or… even that you care!!!’

As a child we need these positive experiences from our parents to survive, learn, grow and develop.

When these needs aren’t met as children we protest and act out in the hope that our parents will notice and then give us what we need and long for.
It is a child’s way of saying ‘Hey, I want these things, I need these things and I am going to protest until I get them’.
We may throw a tantrum, stamp our feet, scream, get upset or angry, become clingy, go quiet, close down, run off, retreat, hide away, sulk or try to earn our parents’ love by being an extra good boy or girl.

These become our ‘protest behaviours’.

Over time as these needs continue to be ignored the protest behaviours start to become our coping and defence mechanisms. They become the ways that keep us safe, preventing us from really feeling the hurt, rejection and abandonment.

For many of us as we were growing up our needs weren’t met how we wanted them to be and needed them to be.

Now the truth is… that for whatever reason our parents weren’t able or capable of giving us what we needed. As a child we don’t understand this and so internalise it and make it all about us.

We feel sad, angry, anxious, unimportant, like something is wrong with us, unworthy of love, hideous, unlovable, ugly, like we have to constantly prove ourselves and be more.

What to do with all this stuff?!!!
The emotions?
The unmet needs?
The self-beliefs and behaviours that are created and so deeply imprinted?
This constant unease, discomfort, tension; living as if we are walking on egg shells?
You are just a child, innocent without the knowhow, emotional intelligence or understanding.

These early relationship experiences shape our adult ones, they become our relationship model.

Moving into life as an adult we may date versions of our parents, at least for a while.
Perhaps this is based on the recognition and familiarity of the relationship model that we grew up with.
Or… maybe life is looking to resolve our childhood issues and this would create the perfect opportunity and dynamic to do that.
We don’t really know why but this phenomenon tends to occur.

Lo and behold…
What happens?!
The very same thing!!!
The button is pushed, the trigger pulled and we play the identical pattern, childhood protest behaviour, coping mechanism and all!!!
We revert to being that child again, acting childlike with no awareness, rationale or coherent communication.
We project our unmet needs onto our partner with zero explanation.

What the heart is trying to say is “Please I just want to be loved, held, heard and understood”.
But… what comes out from the protest behaviour and coping mechanism is the complete opposite.
The relationship becomes ruptured, trust eroded and the love and intimacy that you so desperately crave is pushed further and further away and once again here you are all alone.

And the loop goes on…

How do we move from this place to the wholesome loving relationship that you really want?

It starts with awareness.

At the beginning this may happen on reflection and then graduate with less time lag and eventually be at the point of trigger.

The first step… is to slow down, stop and feel.

Take a compassionate, curious, non-judgemental look into the current situation and let it reveal to you the childhood pattern that you are replaying.

You may ask yourself…
Does this feel repetitive?
Familiar?
Is the emotion child like?
Did I just replay a protest behaviour or coping mechanism?

Let these answers come from the felt sense within you.

As you enquire you may become aware that the child in you has been triggered.

Instead of abandoning or avoiding the activated child take the role of the parent and hold that child close.

Let yourself feel where this leads back to.
Chances are it will be a situation from growing up.
You don’t need any specifics just knowing that this is a childhood pattern is enough.
Just feel it… its familiarity.

As you hold that child and recall your life growing up, ask…
What did the child need at that moment?
What did the child want at that moment?
Who did they need and want it from?
Could they give it?
How did it feel not receiving that?
Here lies the opportunity to meet the emotions that as a child you didn’t know what to do with.
It becomes a place to meet the pain that has accumulated from that point on and built up from all the relationships and situations.
The disappointment, the anger, the sadness, the heartbreak, the bewilderment, whatever is there…

NOW…
Can you finally give that child what it always wanted?

Simply hold that child for as long as it needs.
“I’ve got you, I am here”.

It is realised that all along you were trying to get your needs met by someone who couldn’t.
You are the one who can now be there for that child, supporting them, loving them.

The unravelling takes place, the body and nervous system relaxes and that child receives what they always wanted and in doing so they return back into you.

With conscious awareness restored and the layers of defence peeled back there may be other insights that emerge.

As you take a glance at your current experience it can now be seen clearly for what it is; a replica of your childhood and an opportunity to heal with the other playing out their role to perfection.

Although deeply healing and insightful seldom does this tend to be a one-time fix. It may be that your conditioning will always be there laying dormant.

A slightly different situation may trigger a similar response with the same core wound but each time we do this it becomes less intense and the healing occurs quicker. It happens stage by stage as the decades of trauma and conditioning are met and then re-programmed.

You are beginning to move towards a secure place where you can be response-able rather than reactive; a place where the old relationship model starts to crumble and no longer holds true. You are re-writing your old conditioning and beginning to act in a new healthy way.

It may be that you cease to choose your mum or dad as partners. Perhaps the lesson is learnt.

Or… it could be that you continue in a relationship with a version of your parents and together you heal these past wounds with compassion, kindness and awareness.

Regardless there becomes a deeper understanding of yourself and an ability to communicate as an adult to your partner: explaining what your conditioning is, describing your core wounds and triggers and expressing clearly what your needs are and what they actually look like.

No longer a child but an adult bounding gleefully towards a happy, wholesome and nourishing relationship.

David Rees

From Finding Peace In The Very Heart Of Life

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