"We have a feeling place (stored emotional
energy), and an arrested ego-state within us for an age that relates to each
of those developmental stages. Sometimes we react out of our three-year-old,
sometimes out of our fifteen-year-old, sometimes out of the seven-year-old
that we were.
If you are in a relationship, check it out
the next time you have a fight: Maybe you are both coming out of your
twelve-year-olds. If you are a parent, maybe the reason you have
a problem sometimes is because you are reacting to your six-year-old child
out of the six-year-old child within you. If you have a problem with
romantic relationships maybe it is because your fifteen-year-old is picking
your mates for you.
The next time something does not go the way
you wanted it to, or just when you are feeling low, ask yourself how old
you are feeling. What you might find is that you are feeling like
a bad little girl, a bad little boy, and that you must have done something
wrong because it feels like you are being punished."
(All quotes in this color are from Codependence:
The Dance of Wounded Souls)
In the first article in this series (Inner child healing - How to begin)
I spoke about the importance of becoming aware, of raising our level of
consciousness. It is vitally important to start observing our own
internal process in order to start becoming aware of when we are reacting.
Once we get aware that we are reacting, then we can start figuring
out where our reactions are coming from - do an internal census as it were.
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 are unresolved emotional wounds from the past involved.
It is the inner child who feels panic or terror or rage or hopelessness
or desperate loneliness, not the adult. The more we can get aware
of our "buttons", our emotional wounds, the more we can have some Loving
control over them instead of judging and shaming ourselves for our reactions.
When we have a strong reaction to outer stimuli - other people
or life events - it is important to learn to separate the inner child's reaction
from our adult reaction. I usually figure that about 80% of a strong
reaction is about old unresolved issues and only 20 % about what is actually
happening now. Until we start separating now from the past, we are
incapable of responding to what is happening now in an age appropriate manner.
It is impossible to be present in the now and respond honestly to what is
happening if we are not conscious of how much inner child reaction is involved.
As I described earlier in this series - we need to start being
a detective, observing ourselves and asking ourselves: Where is that
reaction / thought / feeling coming from? Why am I feeling this way?
What does this remind me of from my past? How old do I feel right
now? How old did I act when that happened?
We need to ask ourselves and then listen for an intuitive answer.
When we get that answer then we can track down why the child was feeling
that way. What was happening when I was __ ? (whatever age pops to mind.)
What house were we living in? What grade was I in school? Was
that before a certain event happened or after?
It is very important to get in touch with the different ages of
the child within because the emotions of the toddler are very different from
the feelings of the teenager. A five year olds anger is a different
kind of energy from a twelve year olds. When the primary button that
is being pushed is the twelve year olds, it is important for us to recognize
that so we can deal with it appropriately.
I believe that we have at least one age of the inner child that
relates to each developmental stage. We also have archetypal aspect
of our personality. The archetypal facets - such as the rebel or the
maiden, etc. - can be very tied into a specific age or relate strongly to
several ages. For instance, we all have a romantic within. I
have found that there are usually at least two ages that are tied to the romantic.
A young child - around 5 or 6 - who is magical thinking, who believes in
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and in happily-ever-after. Then there
is a teenage romantic part of us who wants to find our mate, live out our
The romantic within is a wonderful, magical part of us - the idealistic,
dreamer, lover, creative part of us that is a wonderful asset when kept
in balance - and can lead to disastrous consequences when allowed to be in
control of choices. In our unconsciousness, many of us swung
between the extremes of letting the romantic within be in control of our
choices - in which case we cast the wrong person in the part of our Prince
or Princess and then because we wanted the fairy tale so badly we denied
any evidence to the contrary and ended up heartbroken - and reacting to our
heartbreak by slamming the romantic into an inner dungeon and believing we
will never find love.
It is important to get in touch with our inner romantic so that
we can have Loving boundaries that do not allow the romantic to lead us into
dysfunctional relationships with unavailable people, at the same time we
do not have to disown or deny this part of us.
I will sometimes refer to those inner child place (as well as the
archetypal aspects of our psyche) as personas. They are not actual
personalities. People who suffer from multiple personality disorder/defense
are beings who were pushed farther than the rest of us. The wounding
process involves the same basic dynamic - in fact, I learned a lot about
my own inner process by studying cases of multiple personality - but multiples
were broken in harsher ways (usually in an intentional and/or ritual abuse
manner that amounted to torture.)
The next article is one that I wrote in 1996 - and the one after
that is a follow up to it written 5 years later. These offer a good
examples of how to get in touch with our inner children - and how to start
building Loving relationships with those parts of our self.