"The hardest thing for any of us to do is to have compassion for ourselves. As children we felt responsible for the things that happened to us. We blamed ourselves for the things that were done to us and for the deprivations we suffered. There is nothing more powerful in this transformational process than being able to go back to that child who still exists within us and say, 'It wasn't your fault. You didn't do anything wrong, you were just a little kid.'"
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
By searching out, getting acquainted with, owning the feelings of, and building a relationship with, these different emotional wounds/ages of the inner child, we can start being a loving parent to ourselves instead of an abusive one. We can have boundaries with ourselves that allow us to: take responsibility for being a co-creator of our life (grow up); protect our inner children from the perpetrator within/critical parent (be loving to ourselves); stop letting our childhood wounds control our life (take loving action for ourselves); and own the Truth of who we really are (Spiritual Beings) so that we can open up to receive the Love and Joy we deserve.
As we start discovering our emotional wounds, we can start building a relationship with those wounded parts of us. What I have seen work in a very powerfully transformational way, is to actually talk to the children within us. It sounds kind of crazy - but it works.
I wrote a column 5 years ago called Union Within. In it I describe this process briefly:
"The despairing seven year old is always close by, waiting in the wings, and when life seems too hard, when I am exhausted or lonely or discouraged - when impending doom or financial tragedy seem to be imminent - then I hear from him. Sometimes the first words I hear in the morning are his voice within me saying 'I just want to die.'
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.'"
I mention this as an example of the kinds of things that I learned to say to my inner child - but also to make the point that I haven't heard the voice saying 'I want to die' in three or four years now. That was an almost daily voice in my life - and it represented a belief that I would never have peace in my life until death. That was an ingrained part of my perspective on life that greatly influenced my relationship with life. Through doing the inner child work, I have eliminated that negative belief from my programming. That is a miracle. I believe that it is actually possible to change the neural pathways in our brain through positive affirmations and self talk.
I had to make a real effort for many years to gradually take the power away from that programming - and then eliminate it all together. I did not know that I would be able to eliminate it. I just kept working on taking the power away from that wounded part of me that tried to commit suicide when I was seven.
One of the ways that I took power away from that message, was to focus attention on not letting the old tape run. I would try to catch the thought before it was complete. As I mentioned in the article, the thought would come as I was waking up in the morning. As I was coming to consciousness, that wounded part of me would react to the burden of realizing that I was going to be alive another day, with the plaintive groan of 'I just want to die.'
Because of the effort I was putting into my recovery, I developed a recovery voice that was poised to pounce on any negative thoughts or spoken words as soon as I became aware of them. As I was waking up in the morning, the want to die thought would start surfacing and the recovery voice would spring into action inserting 'live' into the sentence to replace 'die.'
The last time I ever heard from that seven year old's voice, the recovery voice in me actually burst into song. The old tape started in 'I just want to . .' - and the recovery voice came in singing 'Live a little, love a little, . .' followed by a bunch of 'do, dahs' because I didn't know any more of the words of the song. It is not unusual in the last few years for that recovery voice of mine to start out the morning with a song. (I must admit, I was a bit taken back when it started out one morning with 'I feel pretty, Oh so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and wise.' - kind of disconcerting that one.;-)
This inner child healing does work. It takes effort and focus and years of recovery sometimes - but it does work!