What if things that happened (or didn’t happen) when you were a baby (that you don’t remember) are affecting you profoundly today, in ways that you don’t know? Leading you like a zombie to do this unhealthy thing or that? Chase away healthy people and chase after unhealthy ones? To be perpetually unhappy, or lonely, or poor, or afraid? To fear abandonment, but fear smothering more?
Really? What happened to me when I was a baby is what is messing up my life now?
Parenting that was cruel or neglectful either physically or emotionally, and various obvious and less obvious traumas can all lead us to have aspects of ourselves that are stunted and frozen in regressed states of need – hungry to get those needs met in some way or other. Even as adults, leaders, or ostensibly successful people, we may be unknowingly acting out unconscious programming laid down from childhood traumas and neglect that are crippling aspects of our life.
We have all had the experience of deeply desiring another to meet and fill us in our pain and longing, and a frustration when they do not. Or worse yet, instead of giving us what we want, they poke us exactly where we hurt, apparently intentionally. We take classes, learn communication skills, anger management, how to meditate. And still, we find ourselves cycling and spinning into pain and drama, helpless to turn things around.
Meanwhile, for most of us, there is a part of ourselves that is trapped inside, invisible and abandoned by Us. Frozen in old traumatized patterns, trying to survive, trying to communicate in it’s own stilted and awkward way what it needs, what frightens it, all the while shaking with fear, or anger, or heart break. Our unmet needs as little ones has left us unconsciously trying to meet these needs by finding the right person, or manipulating or changing the one we are with to meet these needs. Or to keep the painfully unmet needs of the little one inside at bay by drinking, eating, drugging, working, numbing out.
“We have the opportunity to heal our inner child, to seek it out like a feral cat, and slowly gain it’s trust and make friends with it.”
How do I discover and decode this programming, and learn how to heal it?
Recognizing and reconciling with this “inner child” within us is out of fashion. Inner child work had a groundswell years ago, and has since fallen by the way side, along with a world of neglected and terrified children. Some of these children are living in hovels and starving at the rate of 40,000 per day and others hidden inside of millions, even billions of adults all around the world. But this reconciliation is essential if we are to become whole again, to embrace these lost and frightened aspects of ourselves and our human race.
We have the opportunity to learn how to heal our inner child, to seek them out like a feral cat, and slowly make friends with them. To learn how to gain their trust, to play with them, to soothe them, to protect them. To help them to learn how to let go of trying to get these needs met unconsciously by replacement parents, or in romance, but instead to become parents to these little ones ourselves, internally, and to receive conscious help from friends and trusted helpers to support and model our journey of inner parenting, leading more and more to an internal divine parenting experience that leads to a profound sense of fullness, safety, beauty, and love.
Here are a couple of simple tips to get started:
Pull out some pictures of you as a child and write to him. Initially this may feel a little awkward, but do it anyway. Ask him questions about how he was feeling then, and what was scary or uncomfortable. Tell him how you feel about him now. Then let him write back. Let him answer some of these questions if he can. And ask some of you. Follow the dialogue.
Play a game or do an activity that you did when you were a child. Play with army men in the dirt, or dress up a doll. Play Chutes and Ladders with some willing friends. Be goofy, and have fun. You might be surprised.
Journal about how your needs were met as a child. Some keywords to explore: Attunement, Affection, Appreciation, Allowing, Attention, Acceptance. Explore, one at a time, how each of these were for you. Did you fill up on it? Did you crave it? Do you still?
This is deep work. Shadow work some call it, and it takes patience, and a strong desire. But it can be fruitful and transformative beyond your imagination.
I do workshops, groups, classes, and individual sessions exploring this and other topics. For upcoming events click here.