BLOG 38. How reparenting your inner child can create emotional healing and integration in your life.
or “Back to the Future Part 1”
He or she is the young part of yourself that is still inside of you as an adult; the part that jumps with excitement at something amazing, that becomes playful and silly given the right circumstances, and that just loves magical, adventurous and wondrous things.
It’s also the part that may have been wounded in some way, and has stored those wounds until they can be activated again and hopefully healed.
How will you will know when suppressed inner child wounds are being activated and are asking for healing?
You may notice yourself become whiny or disempowered when something doesn’t go right. You may find yourself in the grip of some out-of-control reaction; something out of proportion to what’s actually happening. You may find yourself feeling helpless, full of anxiety, fear or impotent anger when life situations inevitably present triggers.
What do we mean by triggers?
They are incidents that are virtually replays of any small or large traumas from childhood; traumas caused by emotions that were too big or not understood by the child.
Unless your younger self learned a healthy way to feel and regulate these emotions, they would have been experienced as overwhelming, and probably suppressed in order to cope.
Now let me take you to a magical fantasy world in which this Little One was always supported in developing his or her emotional intelligence.
Let’s call the inner child “you”.
In this magical alternate reality of the past, whenever you were feeling an emotion, your parents would notice and would ‘become your brain’ to assist with the processing. They would do any or all of these ten tips, most of which are so helpfully espoused for today’s parents and taken directly from the Kids Helpline: https://kidshelpline.com.au/parents/issues/helping-kids-identify-and-express-feelings
- Tune into cues, such as your body language and behaviour.
- Attempt to understand the feeling behind your language or behaviour, by asking leading questions.
- Help you by giving a NAME to the feeling.
- Identify that feeling in others, (including cartoons etc) and normalize it without judgment.
- Allow ALL emotions without labelling them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
- Be role models for you by naming and appropriately expressing their own feelings as they occurred.
- Praise you for being able to talk about your feelings.
- Hold you and cuddle you to soothe your nervous system as the emotion passed through you.
- Teach you various ways to selfcare and safely manage the emotion, such as breathing, drawing or writing, mindfulness meditation practices, and physical exercise.
- Provide context for the event that has brought up this emotion.
Hang on, wait!
Did any of us receive that enlightened version of emotional-intelligence-building?
Instead, weren’t there some emotions that were taboo? Or was there a general disallowing of ANY emotions?
How would emotional-intelligence-building even be possible for parents who did not have this modelled for themselves? As the kindly Mrs Mills says to The Little One in my book “Good Choice – A Soul’s Story” “Mum and Dad can only tell you what they’ve been told by their Mums and Dads, added together with the new things they’ve learned for themselves.”
As children, we had to adapt to whatever versions of Love and ‘acceptable emotions’ that were delivered by our caregivers.
Fellow blogger Kerry Magnus describes it beautifully:
“When emotional expression is not tolerated children are left feeling unseen, unheard, unsupported and unimportant. They are also left feeling very powerless as to what to do with those emotions that they were trying to express, so in their own ingenious way will adapt themselves to cope better.” https://kerrymagnus.net/
How can you begin to reparent your inner child in the here and now?
How can we re-discover the calm feeling inside that comes from a settled nervous system?
It’s like we get to star in our own “Back to the Future” movie; creating a new present and future by going back into the past and recreating an alternative scenario. We can examine our Inner Parenting style and vocabulary and replace them with more supportive ones.
Why just focus on parenting our own kids and distract from our inner child who is seeking integration? How can we even connect with that Inner Child?
Stay tuned to the next post about TRIGGERS and how to actually DO that “Reparenting your inner child” stuff.
With love to you and your inner child and parent,