Communicating with the Child Within: Part 1

One way to do inner work is to have an ongoing conversation with your child self. It’s tricky to really do it correctly, though.  You can’t decide what you want the child to say, you have to “let it happen”.  If you do, you will find remarkable insight into your own unconscious, because it is from the unconscious part of your mind that your imaginary child self will speak to you.

So how do you “let it happen”? Some people can do this easily (and some people are probably best off doing their inner work another way, because it is virtually impossible for them to allow their mind to flow as is needed here – which is fine since there are other ways to do internal work).  But when you can let it happen – it is comparable to a day dream that is progressing on it’s own, without an agenda, and can be very useful.

So here’s an example of “letting it happen”. In a fantasy, go to your childhood home and look for your young self in your old bedroom. When you open the door, look around, is there anyone there? Is it a younger you? About how old is this part of you? (Here’s where you don’t decide – you look to and see.)

One person I know looked everywhere and couldn’t find her child – the room was empty. (That was a perfect message from her inner child – she had no relationship to herself in this emotional way). Eventually the person found the child hiding under the bed – backed away and facing the wall. By the time she had eventually gently coached the child away from the wall – she had learned a great deal about how frightened she was of her abusive family, even at a very young age.

Another example is a person finding a young teenager self in the backyard by her old swing set. She tried extending to the young girl self, only to have the teenage self blow up at her, furious, “If you don’t stop pushing me and making me work all the time, I’ll go kill myself. Then you’ll be sorry! You never let me have a any fun. All you care about is money!” The adult in this situation did over work and rarely gave herself  down time, no less time for fun. The adult was running from emotional self, and her internal pain with over work and busyness. The wisdom she needed came from her teenage self.

The goal of this kind of work is to get in close touch with your feelings and if possible, re-parent yourself. I have said to men clients “You be the good father  that your inner little boy never had, and if you get into places where you don’t know what to do or say, you can always check with Grandma. (That’s me, therapist and Grandma.)

Hurtful self talk is revealed here – as the adult may not know what is nurturing and supportive, if they rarely got caring or supportive words from their real parents. “Grandma” can intervene and teach the adult how to be a good parent.   Learning how to be a good parent to yourself can lead to positive self talk. You can practice it intentionally during these sessions with your inner child self, and kinder, more useful self talk will start to happen naturally.

A very powerful conversation with one’s inner child can occur after a relationship has been formed through several sessions of work. At this point the adult can ask the child to leave the hurtful, often abusive home “and come and live with me.” It is often very touching how gratefully and enthusiastically the child responds to this offer.  Some people make elaborate rooms for the little child in their imagination,  others prefer to simply visit the child in their new, safe environment and re-parent  him or her.

Some of my clients have picked up on this approach and done a wonderful job of learning much about their family of origin and what needed to be learned and unlearned in order to have a satisfying life as an adult.

How Therapy Helps You Get The Happiness You Want

This is the first entry in a series : How can therapy help me?

Wouldn’t it be great to be happy all the time?  Life doesn’t dish out constant happiness, but all of us should be happy, joyful really, at least some of the time.

If you don’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have depression…there can be lots of reasons.  A big one is that many of us are living as if we were still in the world we  were born into – in our original families.

This is nothing to feel stupid about or condemn yourself over. When you were a kid you were  smart and you learned quickly what was going on in your world.  If there was a lot of anger and criticism, abusive treatment that no kid deserves, or high standards that no kid could attain, you probably  figured out the best way to cope with what you had to live with.

The problem is that all of us human children, (because we can’t afford to learn every new circumstance from scratch,)  generalize what we learned in the  world of our parents and siblings to what might happen outside the house with other people, and we were on guard for this to happen again.  This expectation of what is likely to happen  lasts — we generalize what we learned as children to the world we live in now. Many people  live like this much too long in their lives –  basically trying to  protect themselves from what isn’t out there any more.  Therapy helps a lot.

There are other underlying reasons  that keep us humans from being ourselves and enjoying our lives. Perhaps you are living someone else’s definition of who you ought to be.  Maybe to  be a good person in your family you took care of everyone, to help out your Mom, or because nobody else was paying attention, and now you have a knee jerk response of taking care of others over your own needs. Maybe your father was impressed with people who had a lot of money and you’ve become just what he wanted you to become – a successful business man, only you hate it and want to be home more.  Some people  stay married because their folks would be horrified to have a divorse in the family. There are endless varieties on this theme, and not much joy.

This discussion is continued over the next few blogs.