You are held captive by your past when you keep it secret and don’t want anyone else to know about it. This is a clue that you harbour shame and guilt even though none of it was your fault. You can’t become free of the past until you bring it out of hiding.
Childhood shame and guilt
Childhood shame and guilt won’t normally get your attention because you are so used to living with it. You’ve known nothing else. So you usually don’t recognise it in yourself. But others do, and that is why working with a professional is very important in these situations.
Your psychotherapist or any other professional therapist knows that guilt and shame is a fundamental response of a child. When a child feels unloveable, this is the default response. Children blame themselves for everything that happens around and to them. This is actually natural, because they naturally have to remain self-centred for their survival. This remains until they mature and develop an ability to have alternative perspectives.
Your inner child stays with you
Your inner child still blames itself for all the great pain and every bad thing that may have happened. Of course as the adult you know this is not true, but a child simply does not have that perspective yet. And the child part of you is still stuck with that perspective. In the adult it has become more complicated because it is placed firmly within the subconscious where it is harder to deal with.
You will get better at noticing how you blame yourself and are still holding onto shame when you start to process all your childhood guilt, shame and fear. This is fundamental to healing the inner child and becoming a positive and proactive adult.
How reparenting can heal you
You have a chance to reparent the child part of you but most people need assistance with this. A child part of you which is skilfully reparented takes on the role of great survivor and a brilliant capable person who can overcome things. The inner child also gets more powerful when he/she really knows that it wasn’t their fault.
You might ask, why do we have to get our inner child healed. Surely that is all in the past. Will it only upset us and bring us down even further?
Nothing could be further from the truth. Your inner child (at all ages) is a part of you and will remain so, all your life. Your inner child is either feeling hurt, ashamed, guilty and afraid or is feeling happy, playful, curious and motivated. And this translates into how you engage with the world as an adult. Period.
Why we need to feel our emotions instead of rationalise them.
There rarely is an ‘in between’ emotional state for a small child because their emotions are so powerfully felt. It’s only from learning how to ‘rationalise’ from our parents,siblings and others, that we find we can ignore our feelings. Instead we learn to ‘think our way out of’ engaging with our highly charged emotions.
These emotional reactions remain just as powerful throughout our life, but as adults we learn how to ignore, placate and ameliorate them. Emotion (e-motion) is energy in motion. It is our life force that either propels us forward to expand in the world and be all that we can be, or it is blocked and stagnant which causes ill health and immobilisation in our lives.
Somehow, society and our environment convinces us that it’s best to use our brain to keep away from difficult feelings. We are taught through others’ example and our culture, that the best option is to avoid pain at all costs.That the best option is to keep schtum, to keep smiling, to keep others happy – to deny our self and our own reality.
Your responses are all there for a good reason.
All of your responses are actually designed for your protection. As we get older we have more options to choose from based on our development, experience and knowledge. Any of the responses discussed are fully appropriate in certain circumstances. But when we become unbalanced we are stuck in responses that don’t serve us any more. The response was probably appropriate when we initially used it at 2, 5, 7 or 10. But they got stuck and in doing so we lost the ability to remain response-able. When we can only use our rationality we lose an important range of responses. When we are cut off from our heart and gut and other organ feelings we lose far more than engagement with painful emotions. These bodily and emotional responses are intrinsically tied up with our motivation, joy and love of life.
Over time we tend to pay for this rigidity and blocked energy by becoming physically unwell and/or emotionally unstable. We can begin to suffer from depression, anxiety or other forms of mental unwellness.
Being out of balance in the other direction is just as unhelpful. Being in a childlike open and trusting state all the time won’t help if you are dealing with cynical or abusive people or systems. In situations like this we need the flexibility to connect strongly to the adult part of us to make wise decisions, create firm boundaries and keep us safe. We need the full range of responses available to us. The more flexible we are with our responses, the more we can be spontaneous, play with life and enjoy it, while still remaining focused, mature and lined up with our values.
As a child we don’t get to choose
As a child we don’t get to choose which way we respond, because we really only have two options. These options are:
Fully feel our feelings
Go into a type of ‘shock’
We go into this ‘shock’ because we don’t have any adult support to help us cope, or to teach us how to be powerful in the challenging situation. In this state of ‘shock’ we disconnect from our feelings. For children this is a survival mode. In this state, the weight of our burden is placed firmly in our subconscious where it stays until we are ready to face it.
Motivation for getting to know our inner child
The primary adult motivation for facing childhood pain is that you are not coping in some area of your life. Either you are having relationship problems or feel like life is out to get you, you are suffering from depression or anxiety, you have physical pain that doctors can’t find a physical basis for, or maybe you sadly feel there is little point to your life.
Your inner child enters all parts of your life with you. So for example when you are being called childish by your partner, or find yourself exploding in a type of adult tantrum you can be pretty sure most dysfunctional ways of engagement, were created during your childhood years. You don’t tend to develop these behaviours as an adult.
During great distress we revert back to childhood coping mechanisms.
In times of great distress we revert back to our child’s coping mechanisms. We might become glued to the TV or phone in efforts to avoid interacting with anyone, or regard others with contempt or distrust. We might run off and have an affair or get drunk. Or we may lash out verbally or physically when we are ‘triggered.’
Often we don’t realise why we are doing any of it, because it is a subconscious response. And the adult rational brain will always find a way to justify the behaviour. But these responses are your inner child’s primitive protective complex behaviours associated with the more simple freeze, fight or flight response. This is the reptilian brain response which generally doesn’t involve the cerebral cortex, making it a faster and more physical impulsive reaction. The frontal cortex is the mamallian conscious ‘thinking’ part of the brain that was developed later in our species’ evolutionary journey. When there is a fear response we have to first get it past our reptilian brain and our natural impulses for freeze, flight or fight, before we can engage the frontal cortex. This is why our childhood traumas can hijack us. Instead of being aware of what’s going on, we experience a subconscious, and often a physical response that we usually don’t connect with something in our childhood.
Adults often react unconsciously
Once we understand that all humans act from their unconscious more often than we realise, we also understand how the inner child has an ongoing influence in our lives. Unfortunately most adults tend to project their childhood issues onto others without realising it. When we do this it’s easy to avoid the real issue, which is based in our selves. Otherwise we would make some change that is mature and reasonable, leave the relationship or job, and get our life sorted out in a very short time.
Supporting the inner child.
The main challenge is to get our inner child well supported and regain our sense of self which was lost due to a traumatic response. A traumatic response happens when we enter a place of great pressure and have no support to manage our feelings of great upset and pain. We split from our feelings, and our true self, and instead of stepping into our power and energy to develop new skills, we practise self denial.
What are triggers?
In this process our ignored and suppressed feelings become attached to triggers of anything that reminds us of that incident. We then unconsciously react from that well of pain every time the feelings of the event are triggered.
You won’t ‘get’ how much these childhood traumas have entered every aspect of your life until you work to clear them. You can feel completely different about yourself and your situations in your life, when you don’t carry the burden of these triggered responses any more. These traumas make you feel ‘less than’, less than good, less than loveable, and less than able to be enriched by everything you experience in your life.
Katie Kalin is a kinesiologist who develops conscious awareness in her clients. Kate runs a clinic and also works online. She uses distant muscle testing to connect people to their own wisdom. Katie answers questions through surrogate muscle testing live on her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KinesiologyCork/ on Fridays from 1pm -2pm BST. If you’d like her to answer a question for you go to bit.ly/WisdomHour and submit your question. www.katiekalin.com