Inner Child Healing Paradigm

An Emotional Healing Framework

"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."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The above passage from my book is one that I really like.  It says a great deal in just a few words.  It speaks to the balance that is the goal of the healing process.  Take responsibility for my side of the street without blaming - me or anyone else.   Feel my feelings without letting them run my life.   Learn to have Love and compassion for the child that I was, at the same time I take control of my inner process in a Loving way by not continuing to give power over how I live today to my past emotional wounds.

In order to become empowered and stop being the victim of our self it is very important to recognize the different parts of ourselves so that we can set boundaries out of the adult that has knowledge, skills, and resources, the adult that is on a Spiritual/healing path.  We can access our Higher Self to be a Loving Parent to the wounded parts of our self.  We have a Healer Within us.  An Inner Mentor / Teacher / Wise Wizard that can guide us if we have the ears to hear - the consciousness to become aware.  That Adult within us can set a boundary with the Critical Parent to stop the shame and judgment and can then Lovingly set boundaries with whatever part of us is reacting so that we can find some balance in the now - not overreact or under react out of out fear of overreacting.

We all have a whole family (seems like a community sometimes) of wounded components that make up our being. Having a lot of conflicting feelings within is not a sign that we are crazy - it is a sign that we have different parts of us that want different things/are reacting to different impulses. The more we get aware of those parts of us the more we can stop being an unconscious victim of those conflicting feelings.

And what is very important - and the biggest difference between the techniques that I have developed and teach from so many others - is to build a Loving ongoing relationship with those wounded parts of us. Inner child healing is not something that we do and then move on with our lives. Our wounded inner children are going to be with us for the rest of our lives. The wounds are not going to go away - they have progressively less power as we heal - but they do not go away. So it is important for us to recognize what part of us is reacting so that we can respond to that wounded part of our self in a Loving, patient, and mature way when one of our buttons is pushed/wounds is gouged.

This work is about becoming an integrated, whole, mature, adult person in action, in the way we live our lives and respond to life events and other people. The only way we can be whole is to own all of the parts of ourselves. By owning all the parts we can then have choices about how we respond to life. By denying, hiding, and suppressing parts of ourselves we doom ourselves to live life in reaction.

The technique that I have found so valuable in this healing process is to relate to the different wounded parts of our self as different ages of the inner child. These different ages of the child may be literally tied to an event that happened at that age - i.e. when I was 7 I tried to commit suicide. Or the age of the child might be a symbolic designator for a pattern of abuse/deprivation that occurred throughout our childhood - i.e. the 9 year old within me feels completely emotionally isolated and desperately needy/lonely, a condition which was true for most of my childhood and not tied to any specific incident (that I know of) that happened when I was 9.

We can get in touch with the feelings of an age of our inner child without having any specific memories to explain those feelings. We can get in touch with feelings that are preverbal from early childhood - or even feelings from the womb. For many of us our wounding began in the womb, where we incubated in our mother's fear and shame or became addicted to adrenaline because of what our mothers were experiencing.

As long as we are reacting unconsciously out of a mass of unresolved grief and rage, it is nearly impossible to have any clarity about our inner process. It is vitally important to start separating out the different wounded parts of us, so that we can start healing the individual wounds/issues. That is the way we start to take power away from those wounds.

The inner child healing paradigm is a structure that facilitates healing. We all had our relationships with ourselves fractured into pieces as we were growing up. It is very important to start bringing some peace to our inner process by owning those different wounded parts of us. Those different wounded parts of us - which involve both repressed emotional energy and frozen splinters of ego - are what I refer to as our inner children.

In the next few articles in this series, I will be talking about getting in touch with (an internal census,) and building a relationship with, the different wounded parts of us. We need to shed light into the darkness in order to stop giving power to the past. The inner child healing paradigm is the most powerful technique that I have ever encountered for facilitating the healing of our emotional wounds. {Play}

Go to Inner Awareness - Internal Census

Awakening to Higher Consciousness

On January 3, 2002 I will celebrate 18 years of being clean and sober. I have actually been clean and sober now for longer than I drank and used. An amazing miracle that has unfolded one day at a time. Some of those days were excruciatingly painful - full of hopelessness and despair. In early recovery, I didn't make it through those days sober because I wanted to be sober - or because I wanted to be alive. I made it through one day at a time because I was terrified of returning to, and getting stuck in, the hell I had been living in for the last 4 or 5 years of my drinking.

There is an old AA saying that: Alcoholics Anonymous doesn't open up the gates of heaven and let us in - it opens up the gates of hell and lets us out. When I got released from my alcoholic hell, what I found myself experiencing was life. The very thing I had been drinking to cope with!

What I realize now, is that I was released from alcoholic hell and found myself in codependent hell. My relationship with my self and with life condemned me to codependent hell - and alcohol and drugs had given me a vacation of sorts from dealing with the fact that I did not have a clue of how to live life in a functional way.

I am very, very grateful now that I am a recovering alcoholic. If I had not found alcohol and drugs, I would have killed myself in one way or another in my late teens or early twenties. My 17 plus year drinking career kept me alive long enough to be present when planetary conditions changed so that the New Age of Healing and Joy could dawn in human consciousness. Long enough to have available to me, the tools and knowledge to be able to heal my wounded soul and learn to live life in a way that works. Long enough that first Adult Children of Alcoholics, and then Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings, were available to help me in my healing process.

"The dysfunctional dance of Codependence is caused by being at war with ourselves - being at war within.

We are at war with ourselves because we are judging and shaming ourselves for being human. We are at war with ourselves because we are carrying around suppressed grief energy that we are terrified of feeling. We are at war within because we are "damming" our own emotional process - because we were forced to become emotionally dishonest as children and had to learn ways to block and distort our emotional energy.

We cannot learn to Love ourselves and be at peace within until we stop judging and shaming ourselves for being human and stop fighting our own emotional process, until we stop waging war on ourselves."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Inner Child Healing / Codependence Recovery

"Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child. Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met - our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs. Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside. Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves."

"We need to take the shame and judgment out of the process on a personal level. It is vitally important to stop listening and giving power to that critical place within us that tells us that we are bad and wrong and shameful.

That "critical parent" voice in our head is the disease lying to us. . . . This healing is a long gradual process - the goal is progress, not perfection. What we are learning about is unconditional Love. Unconditional Love means no judgment, no shame."

"We need to start observing ourselves and stop judging ourselves. Any time we judge and shame ourselves, we are feeding back into the disease, we are jumping back into the squirrel cage."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence is a dysfunctional defense system that was built in reaction to feeling unlovable and unworthy - because our parents were wounded codependents who didn't know how to love themselves. We grew up in environments that were emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile, and shame based. Our relationship with ourselves (and all the different parts of our self: emotions, gender, spirit, etc.) got twisted and distorted in order to survive in our particular dysfunctional environment.

We got to an age where we were supposed to be an adult and we started acting like we knew what we were doing. We went around pretending to be adult at the same time we were reacting to the programming that we got growing up. We tried to do everything "right" or rebelled and went against what we had been taught was "right." Either way we weren't living our life through choice, we were living it in reaction.

In order to start being loving to ourselves we need to change our relationship with our self - and with all the wounded parts of our self. The way which I have found works the best in starting to love ourselves is through having internal boundaries.

Learning to have internal boundaries is a dynamic process that involves three distinctly different, but intimately interconnected, spheres of work. The purpose of the work is to change our ego-programming - to change our relationship with ourselves by changing our emotional/behavioral defense system into something that works to open us up to receive love, instead of sabotaging ourselves because of our deep belief that we don't deserve love.

(I need to make the point here that Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. What we are trying to achieve is integration and balance on different levels. In regard to our relationship with ourselves this involves two major dimensions: the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical is Spiritual, about our relationship to a Higher Power, to the Universal Source. If we cannot conceive of a God/Goddess Force that loves us then it makes it virtually impossible to be loving to ourselves. So a Spiritual Awakening is absolutely vital to the process in my opinion. Changing our relationship with ourselves on the horizontal level is both a necessary element in, and possible because we are working on, integrating Spiritual Truth into our inner process.)

These three spheres are:

    1. Detachment
    2. Inner Child Healing
    3. Grieving

Because Codependence is a reactive phenomena it is vital to start being able to detach from our own process in order to have some choice in changing our reactions. We need to start observing our selves from the witness perspective instead of from the perspective of the judge .

We all observe ourselves - have a place of watching ourselves as if from outside, or perched somewhere inside, observing our own behavior. Because of our childhoods we learned to judge ourselves from that witness perspective, the "critical parent" voice.

The emotionally dishonest environments we were raised in taught us that it was not ok to feel our emotions, or that only certain emotions were ok. So we had to learn ways to control our emotions in order to survive. We adapted the same tools that were used on us - guilt, shame, and fear (and saw in the role modeling of our parents how they reacted to life from shame and fear.) This is where the critical parent gets born. It's purpose is to try to keep our emotions and behavior under some sort of control so that we can get our survival needs met.

So the first boundary that we need to start setting internally is with the wounded / dysfunctionally programmed part of our own mind. We need to start saying no to the inner voices that are shaming and judgmental. The disease comes from a black and white, right and wrong, perspective. It speaks in absolutes: "You always screw up!" "You will never be a success!" - these are lies. We don't always screw up. We may never be a success according to our parents or societies dysfunctional definition of success - but that is because our heart and soul do not resonate with those definitions, so that kind of success would be a betrayal of ourselves. We need to consciously change our definitions so that we can stop judging ourselves against someone else's screwed up value system.

We learned to relate to ourselves (and all the parts of our self - emotions, sexuality, etc.) and life from a critical place of believing that something was wrong with us - and in fear that we would be punished if we didn't do life "right." Whatever we are doing or not doing the disease can always find something to beat us up with. I have 10 things on my "to do list" today, I get 9 of them done, the disease does not want me to give myself credit for what I have done but instead beats me up for the one I didn't get done. Whenever life gets too good we get uncomfortable and the disease jumps right in with fear and shame messages. The critical parent voice keeps us from relaxing and enjoying life, and from loving our self.

We need to own that we have the power to choose where to focus our mind. We can consciously start viewing ourselves from the "witness" perspective. It is time to fire the judge - our critical parent - and choose to replace that judge with our Higher Self, who is a loving parent. We can then intervene in our own process to protect ourselves from the perpetrator within - the critical parent/disease voice.

(It is almost impossible to go from critical parent to compassionate loving parent in one step - so the first step often is to try to observe ourselves from a neutral position or a "scientific observer" perspective.)

This is what enlightenment and consciousness raising are all about. Owning our power to be a co-creator of our lives by changing our relationship with ourselves. We can change the way we think. We can change the way we respond to our own emotions. We need to detach from our wounded self in order to allow our Spiritual Self to guide us. We are Unconditionally Loved.The Spirit does not speak to us from judgment and shame.

One of the visualizations that has helped me over the years is an image of a small control room in my brain. This control room is full of dials and gauges and lights and sirens. In this control room are a bunch of Keebler-like elves whose job it is to make sure that I don't get too emotional for my own good. Whenever I feel anything too strongly (including Joy, happiness, self-love) the lights start flashing and the sirens start wailing and the elves go crazy running around trying to get things under control. They start pushing some of the old survival buttons: feeling too happy - drink; feeling too sad- eat sugar; feeling scared - get laid; or whatever.

To me, the process of recovery is about teaching those elves to chill out. Reprogramming my ego-defenses to knowing that it is ok to feel the feelings. That feeling and releasing the emotions is not only ok it is what will work best in allowing me to have my needs fulfilled.

We need to change our relationship with ourselves and our own emotions in order to stop being at war with ourselves. The first step to doing that is to detach from ourselves enough to start protecting ourselves from the perpetrator that lives within us. {Play}

Co-Creation: Owning your Power to Manifest Love

Codependency Recovery

"The single most important step in this inner healing work is detachment. It is developing a detached level of consciousness - and observer / witness perspective - that allows us to start practicing discernment in relationship to both our inner and outer process. This facilitates the process of learning how to have internal boundaries so that we can start having the wisdom and clarity to integrate a Loving Spiritual belief system and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into our emotional relationship with life. Then we are able to start achieving some emotional balance, and start owning our power to be a positive, conscious co-creator of our life experience - a Loving, mature, empowered force in our own lives, instead of an unconscious co-creator out of the negative, self abusive, self sabotaging reactions that are caused by our emotional wounds and the codependent behavior patterns adapted in childhood."

"The critical parent voice is rooted in the subconscious intellectual paradigm that is defining and dictating our life experience. It is the play by play commentator that is providing running commentary on how well we are playing the game of life - and it is judging our performance based upon false beliefs about the nature and purpose of life, based upon a black and white perspective that dooms us to be the victim of being imperfect humans. It dictates how we react to life and then judges us for those reactions.

It is very important to start learning how to take power away from that critical parent voice so that we can start developing a witness perspective with a compassionate level of consciousness. So that we can start learning how to be our own best friend - instead of our own worst enemy."

"Detachment allows us to start taking some Loving control of our own internal process. It allows us to start taking control over, and responsibility for, our thoughts and our feelings to the extent that is possible. It allows us to create a space in our lives to start learning how to be Loving to ourselves instead of feeling like a victim of self and life.

Detachment - learning to observe our selves so that we can become more conscious - is an act of Love."

This page includes quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls and quotes from other articles, columns, or web pages written by Robert Burney.

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light

"A "state of Grace" is the condition of being Loved unconditionally by our Creator without having to earn that Love. We are Loved unconditionally by the Great Spirit. What we need to do is to learn to accept that state of Grace.

The way we do that is to change the attitudes and beliefs within us that tell us that we are not Lovable. And we cannot do that without going through the black hole. The black hole that we need to surrender to traveling through is the black hole of our grief. The journey within - through our feelings - is the journey to knowing that we are Loved, that we are Lovable.

It is through willingness and acceptance, through surrender, trust, and faith, that we can begin to own the state of Grace which is our True condition.

We are all beautiful swans who exist in a state of Grace, in a condition of being unconditionally Loved. The dance of Recovery is a process of learning to accept and integrate the Truth of Grace into our lives.

The goal in this Age of Healing and Joy is integration and balance. To integrate the Spiritual Truth into our physical experience so that we can fill the hole inside and find wholeness within. As we integrate our True Spiritual nature into our relationship with our physical being we can begin to achieve some balance and harmony with and between all of the parts of our being.

This age is a time for growing and learning, a time to become conscious of the True nature of the Source Energy, a time of Spiritual Awakening. We have been given the wonder-full gift of having the ability and the tools to start integrating the Truth of a Loving Universal Force into our day-to-day experience of life. We now have the knowledge and guidance that we need to start bringing some balance to our relationships - with ourselves and our God/Goddess, with other people and the planet - so that we can live in a way that allows us to experience some Peace and Love on our life path.

We can heal our wounded souls enough to change the dance of life from a dance of endurance and suffering to a dance that celebrates living. We now have access to the power to transform the dance of Codependence to a dance of healing and Joy."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light is what I have been calling my next book. This is to be a process level book - a "how to" book - explaining the approach to inner child healing that I discovered in my desperation to change my life. I have been guided to develop and refine this approach in my work with others to facilitate my recovery and healing. It is a formula, a blueprint, for integrating Spiritual Truth into our inner process so that we can achieve some emotional balance in this human dance we are doing.

The material in that book will be based upon the writing that I have done for articles on my web site. I haven't withheld anything on the web site in terms of trying to explain how the process works - it is just that in that book I might be explaining things in slightly different ways, and adding some things that I use in my counseling work that for one reason or another I have just never written about. I did start to publish a draft version of that book in my Joy2MeU Journal several years ago - but that process became stalled as I was writing articles for my web site that lead me to deeper and fuller understanding of different aspects of the process, and of the energetic dynamics that govern the process. I have been trying to get the time to focus on that book for quite awhile now - and in fact wrote the following to my Joy2MeU Journal subscribers in July of this year.

    "So, I will get back to this Journal when I get back to it. I don't think that it will be too long after I get back, because these issues that are stirred up need to be worked through. And I really want and need to get back to my process level book. It was over a year ago when I wrote this about it.

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light
My concept of this book is changing pretty dramatically - and will probably include a name change. As I said back in the beginning of this Journal, this book is a first draft and as such it is definitely a work in progress. The reality of the book - as I stated back then - is that probably 80% of the material that will go into this book is already on the web site. .. .
I haven't been able to get a clear vision of how this book will come together since I haven't had any free time to focus on it.
Joy2MeU Journal Mini-Newsletter - May 8, 2000

    My vision of this book is getting clearer all the time. And it is happening because of my phone counseling. That has proven such an effective way of helping people to implement my approach to inner child healing and Spiritual integration, that it is showing me the way that the book needs to be organized."

Joy2MeU Journal Mini-Newsletter July 20, 2001

Co-Creation: Owning your Power to Manifest Love is one of the alternative titles I have been considering. I was in fact, planning on focusing on that process level book in September. Then the events of September 11th occurred and I started publishing what turned into an online book Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective. This page is in fact being written as part of that online book. I am now starting to see that I will be combining the material from that process book with the online book - but am not sure when I will have time to get to that, as I first need to finish the online book. Hopefully in January, I will find some time to start exploring that material.

In the meantime, I wanted to publish this page as a regular web article - as opposed to a chapter of my online book - because this material is so important to the process. I wanted it to be readily available to anyone who is interested. - RB 12-23-01

Inner Child Healing - Why Do It?

"We are set up to be emotionally dysfunctional by our role models, both parental and societal. We are taught to repress and distort our own emotional process. We are trained to be emotionally dishonest when we are children.

This emotional repression and dishonesty causes society to be emotionally dysfunctional. Additionally, urban based civilization has completely disregarded natural laws and natural cycles such as the human developmental process. There is no integration into our culture of the natural human developmental process.

As just one blatant example of this, consider how most so called primitive or aboriginal societies react to the onset of puberty. When a girl starts menstruating, ceremonies are held to celebrate her womanhood - to honor her coming into her power, to honor her miraculous gift of being able to conceive. Boys go through training and initiation rites to help them make the transition from boyhood to manhood. Look at what we have in our society: junior high school - a bunch of scared, insecure kids who torture each other out of their confusion and fear, and join gangs to try to find an identity.

This lack of integration of the natural human growth process causes trauma. At each stage of the developmental process we were traumatized because of the emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment into which we were born. We went into the next stage incomplete and then were retraumatized, were wounded again."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

For all of the so called progress of our modern societies, we still are far behind most aboriginal cultures in terms of respect for individual rights and dignity in some kind of balance with the good of the whole. (I am speaking here of tribal aboriginal societies - not urbanized ones.) Nowhere is this more evident in terms of our relationship to our children.

Modern civilizations - both Eastern and Western - are no more than a generation or two removed from the belief that children were property. This, of course, goes hand in hand with the belief that women were property. The idea that children have rights, individuality, and dignity is relatively new in modern society. The predominant and underlying belief, as it has been manifested in the treatment of children, has been that children are extensions of, and tools to be used by, their parents.

A very telling insight into the basic beliefs underlying Western attitudes towards children is shared by inner child pioneer Alice Miller in her book The Drama of The Gifted Child. She shares how the 19th Century German Philosophers who laid the groundwork for modern psychology, emphasized the importance of stamping out a child's "exuberance." In other words, a child's spirit must be crushed in order to control them.

Children are to be seen and not heard. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

It is only in very recent history, that our society has even recognized child abuse as a crime instead of an inherent right of the parent. The concept of healthy parenting as a skill to be learned is very new in society.

Any society that does not respect and honor individual human dignity, is going to be a society that does not meet the essential needs of it's members. Patriarchal societies, that demean and degrade women and children, are dysfunctional in their essence.

We form our core relationship with our self and with life - and of course with other people - in early childhood in reaction to the messages we get from the way we are treated and the role modeling of the other people in our lives. We then have no training or initiation ceremonies, no culturally approved grieving process, to help us let go of the old programming and learn a different relationship with our self and life. So, we build upon the foundation laid in early childhood.

As adults, we react to the programming of our childhood. To contend that our childhood emotional wounds have not affected our adult lives is ridiculous. To think that our early programming has not influenced the way we have lived is to be in denial to an extreme.

Because societies standards for what constitutes success are dysfunctional, many people can be pointed out who "have risen above" their past to be a success. It is those people, who are supposedly successful, that are running the world. How good a job do you think they are doing?

It is our world leaders, reacting out of the fear and insecurity of their inner children, and the dysfunctional belief systems underlying civilization, who give us war and poverty, billionaires and homelessness.

My book, Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, evolved out of a talk that I first did in 1991. In the talk, I stated that I would like to one day make up a bumper sticker that said "Work for World Peace, Heal Your Inner Child." I did have these bumper stickers printed when I published my book. It is, I believe, an essential Truth. We will never have world peace, or a civilized society which is based upon respect and dignity - to say nothing of Love - unless we can heal our relationships with ourselves enough to learn to Love and respect our self.

We cannot Love our neighbor as our self, as long as we are judging and comparing our self to them in order to feel good about our self. We cannot have a society that meets the essential emotional and spiritual needs of it's members as long as we are reacting to life in alignment with rules of interaction that we learned in junior high school.

We are all connected - not separate. We all have worth and deserved to be treated with dignity and respect - instead of earning societies version of worth by stepping on and over our fellow humans, to say nothing of destroying the planet we live on.

It is through healing our inner child wounds that we can learn to respect and Love our self so that we can know how to treat others with respect and Love. It is through healing our inner children that we can save our planet and evolve into a society that does meet the essential needs of it's members.

Inner child healing is not some fad or pop psychology. Inner child healing is the only way to empower ourselves to stop living life in reaction to the past. We have been ignoring history and repeating it for centuries. If we are going to have a chance to reverse the self destructive patterns of human kind, it is going to come from individuals healing self. By healing our inner child wounds, we can change the world. {Play}