The events that occurred during your childhood can affect you as an adult.
By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Have you ever had a situation that REALLY bothered you? If an observer was present they might have been surprised at how intensely you were affected; maybe it even surprised you. When an individual has a highly emotional response to a conversation or situation, there is likely a deeper reason for the reaction. When I provide counseling I ask if there was a similar challenging situation that occurred sometime in the person’s history. Often the person doesn’t recognize the connection, but the inner child does.
Who is this inner child? Though you may be an adult, your inner child remains within and remembers the wounds, dramas and traumas from those earlier years.
To have a true understanding of this inner child it helps to revisit the childhood experience. Children by definition have no power. They strive to be ‘good little boys and girls’, but have little ability to change uncomfortable situations such as being reprimanded, being physically or emotionally hurt, or being frightened. All the child knows is that s/he is unsafe, and powerless to change the situation. This fear and sense of impotence is often repeated in subsequent events through childhood, further anchoring the belief that the world is unsafe – especially in situations that hold the pattern of the original incident.
The adult can affect change over ‘bad’ things, but your inner child hasn’t realized that you are all grown up. Fear and uncertainty rule your inner child and these are the emotional filters through which all subsequent experiences are perceived and responded.
Now you can understand why you have an intense reaction to what you or others thought was a relatively minor occurrence. Yes, you are annoyed at what occurred. But the intense response occurs because this event triggers the memory of all previous related events, and the inner child gets very scared.
The good news is that there are things you can do to keep from becoming emotionally highjacked:
Recognize the presence of your inner child.
Reframe the situation. Is your physical or emotional security endangered? The situation may be challenging or uncomfortable, but it is not as dangerous as your inner child would have you believe. Recognize it for what it is.
Talk to your inner child. Speak confidently and warmly as you would to a child. Acknowledge that the little you encountered many episodes that were challenging. Explain to the “little you” that children don’t have power, and empathize with the fear and vulnerability that s/he experienced. In your mind (or to a stuffed animal, doll or your picture) speak to the “little you” as you would to a small, frightened child. Explain that though s/he had minimal power, you now have skills and abilities that s/he didn’t. You can care for her/him; and you will. Situations, relationships and experiences that remind her/him of the past wounds needn’t be triggers. Assure this “little you” that you can keep her/him safe, and that you will. The goal is not to relive the past; consider working with a professional if you have experienced a trauma.
Support the safety of your inner child. If you listen within, you will know how to make things safe for the “little you”, as s/he learns to trust life.
Heal your inner child. A professional who practices guided imagery or energy healing can deepen your inner child conversation to clear old patterns and remove the energy of the history that is held within.
Acknowledge the playfulness of your inner child. Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean that you have outgrown the desire – and the need – to be playful, silly, joyous, hugged, etc.
Honor your emotional, physical and spiritual needs:
Emotionally – learn to ask for what you need and to respectfully say no; connect with friends and family.
Spiritually – practice your faith; support your soul-work through your career or hobbies; honor and express that which defines you.
Recognize and support the needs of your inner child to improve confidence, well being, and both personal and professional relationships. Begin your dialogue today to encourage your inner child to come out of hiding and feel safe.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.