Inner Child Healing Techniques
"When we are reacting out of old tapes based on attitudes and beliefs that are false or distorted, then our feelings cannot be trusted.
When we are reacting out of our childhood emotional wounds, then what we are feeling may have very little to do with the situation we are in or with the people with whom we are dealing in the moment.
In order to start be-ing in the moment in a healthy, age-appropriate way it is necessary to heal our "inner child." The inner child we need to heal is actually our "inner children" who have been running our lives because we have been unconsciously reacting to life out of the emotional wounds and attitudes, the old tapes, of our childhoods."
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
It is vitally important to start paying attention to our inner children.
It does not work, it is dysfunctional, to deny that our childhood wounds have affected our lives.
Our emotional wounds have been dictating our lives and keeping us from Loving ourselves.
We have been an abusive parent to ourselves.
"Because of our broken hearts, our emotional wounds, and our scrambled minds, our subconscious programming, what the disease of Codependence causes us to do is abandon ourselves. It causes the abandonment of self, the abandonment of our own inner child - and that inner child is the gateway to our channel to the Higher Self.
The one who betrayed us and abandoned and abused us the most was ourselves. That is how the emotional defense system that is Codependence works.
The battle cry of Codependence is "I'll show you - I'll get me."
We have an age of the wounded inner child that relates to each stage of the development process. It is very important to start getting in touch with these parts of ourselves and building a Loving relationship with each of them.
Anytime we have a strong emotional reaction to something or someone - when a button is pushed and there is a lot of energy attached, a lot of intensity - that means there is old stuff involved.
It is the inner child who feels panic or terror or rage or hopelessness, not the adult.
We need to ask ourselves "How old am I feeling right now?" and then listen for an intuitive answer. When we get that answer then we can track down why the child was feeling that way.
It is not that important to know the details of why the child is feeling that way - it is important to honor that the child's feelings are valid. Sometimes we recover some memory and sometimes we don't - the details are not that important, honoring the feelings is important. Trying to fill in the details isn't necessary and can lead to false memories.
"It is also a vital part of the process to learn discernment. To learn to ask for help and guidance from people who are trustworthy, . . . That means counselors and therapists who will not judge and shame you and project their issues onto you.
(I believe that the cases of "false memories" that are getting a lot of publicity these days are in reality cases of emotional incest - which is rampant in our society and can be devastating to a person's relationship with his/her own sexuality - that are being misunderstood and misdiagnosed as sexual abuse by therapists who have not done their own emotional healing and project their own issues of emotional incest and/or sexual abuse onto their patients).
Someone who has not done her/his own emotionally healing grief work cannot guide you through yours. Or as John Bradshaw put it in his excellent PBS series on reclaiming the inner child, "No one can lead you somewhere that they haven't been.""
When one of our "buttons" is pushed - when an old wound is gouged - it is very important to honor the child's feelings without buying into the illusion that it matches the adults reality.
"What we feel is our "emotional truth" and it does not necessarily have anything to do with either facts or the emotional energy that is Truth with a capital "T" especially when we our reacting out of an age of our inner child."
The following is from a column entitled "Union Within" and explains some of the dynamics of the inner child parenting process.
"The feeling of wanting to die, of not wanting to be here, is the most overwhelming, most familiar feeling in my emotional inner landscape. Until I started doing my inner child healing I believed that who I really was at the deepest, truest part of my being, was that person who wanted to die. I thought that was the true 'me'. Now I know that is just a small part of me. When that feeling comes over me now I can say to that seven year old, "I am really sorry you feel that way Robbie. You had very good reason to feel that way. But that was a long time ago and things are different now. I am here to protect you now and I Love you very much. We are happy to be alive now and we are going to feel Joy today, so you can relax and this adult will deal with life.". . . .
"The integration process involves consciously cultivating a healthy, Loving relationship with all of my inner children so that I can Love them, validate their feelings, and assure them that everything is different now and everything is going to be all right. When the feelings from the child come over me it feels like my whole being, like my absolute reality - it isn't, it is just a small part of me reacting out of the wounds from the past. I know that now because of my recovery, and I can lovingly parent and set boundaries for those inner children so they are not dictating how I live my life. By owning and honoring all of the parts of me I now have a chance to have some balance and union within."
(Column "Union Within" by Robert Burney)
We need to be the Loving parent who can hear the child's voice within us.
We need to learn to be nurturing and Loving to the wounded parts of us. We can do that by actually working on developing a relationship with those wounded parts of us. The first step is to open a dialog.
I believe that it is important to actually talk to the children inside of us.
To open communications in any way we can through talking to those parts of ourselves in a Loving way (which means also to stop calling ourselves names like stupid - when we do that we are abusing our inner children), right hand/left hand writing, painting and drawing, music, making collages, taking the child to the toy store, etc.
At first the child will probably not trust you - for many very good reasons. Eventually we can start building trust. If we will treat ourselves with one tenth as much compassion as we would an abused puppy who came into our care - we would be Loving ourselves much more that we have been.
"As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are giving power to the disease. We are feeding the monster that is devouring us.
We need to take responsibility without taking the blame. We need to own and honor the feelings without being a victim of them.
We need to rescue and nurture and Love our inner children and STOP them from controlling our lives. STOP them from driving the bus! Children are not supposed to drive, they are not supposed to be in control.
And they are not supposed to be abused and abandoned. We have been doing it backwards. We abandoned and abused our inner children. Locked them in a dark place within us. And at the same time let the children drive the bus - let the children's wounds dictate our lives."
It is the wounded child in us that wants instant gratification.
We need to set boundaries for the wounded part of us that wants to go unconscious or indulge in things which are abusive in the long run.
"The pain of being unworthy and shameful was so great that I had to learn ways to go unconscious and disconnect from my feelings. The ways in which I learned to protect myself from that pain and nurture myself when I was hurting so badly were with things like drugs and alcohol, food and cigarettes, relationships and work, obsession and rumination.
The way it works in practice is like this: I am feeling fat; I judge myself for being fat; I shame myself for being fat; I beat myself for being fat; then I am hurting so badly that I have to relieve some of the pain; so to nurture myself I eat a pizza; then I judge myself for eating the pizza, etc. etc.
To the disease, this is a functional cycle. The shame begets the self-abuse which begets the shame which serves the purpose of the disease which is to keep us separate so the we don't set ourselves up to fail by believing that we are worthy and lovable."
(Column "A Dance of Suffering, Shame, and Self-abuse" by Robert Burney)
We can learn to be responsible adults who can Lovingly parent the wounded children inside of us. It is a lot of work and it takes time, but it is worth it. It can create the freedom to be able to let go, to be happy and Joyous in the moment, no matter what is happening in our lives. It leads to empowerment, serenity, and the ability to have a more Loving relationship with self. Nothing you do in your life will be more rewarding or have more far reaching consequences than healing your wounded soul - which is what your wounded inner children represent. We are - you are, I am - Lovable and worthy.