Last month, I wrote, “Design your dream life and say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t ALIGN with that!”. If you haven’t read that article, you may want to go back and read it first.
In this part two article I’m going to focus more on inner child work.
Over the past six months I’ve started to uncover my relationship with my inner child. It feels like I’ve pretty much had her locked away in a closet all these years (and threw away the key). Why? Well, because she often doesn’t feel safe, seen or heard. It was safer to keep her hidden, than to possibly relive any old traumas again.
You see, I grew up in a violent home, with a narcissistic father and both of my parents were alcoholics. I was often protected from the violence or hidden away, but my subconscious memory, or inner child remembers more than I do.
Today, when I get triggered by life events, clients, my kids, etc., it’s often my inner child who is getting triggered. Back then, my needs weren’t being met, I wasn’t feeling heard, and I suffered from neglect and watched my mom get abused. When I was a kid, my dad would say, “Be seen and not heard!”, to us kids. Did you ever hear that? Somehow that message got embedded into my psyche and it taught me that my voice, and my opinions were really not that important. Do you ever feel like your opinion doesn’t matter, or you’re not being heard?
Fast forward to adulthood. Sometimes, when I ask my kids to clean up their room, or take a bath and they don’t listen to me, I get triggered. Why? Because I feel that I am not being heard, my inner child felt she wasn’t being heard. The truth is most kids don’t have the skills to say, “Okay Mommy, I heard you and I’ll do it on my terms in 5 or 10 minutes.” There are exceptions to this of course, but for the most part many don’t. But how wonderful it would be if they did communicate this way. I am still working on this with my kids, because good communication is key and it will take you far in life.
In my home, at dinner time, everyone is excited to share about their day because it’s the time when we all come together and we often want to share at the same time. The interruptions are endless, and can often make all four of us not feel heard. Ever live with a 6 year old? She is the Queen of Interruptions! This experience is constantly teaching me to love myself and know that I will be heard eventually, but sometimes it is challenging. Sometimes, the interruptions feel hurtful, but I know they are not intending to hurt my feelings with their interjections. It’s okay to feel this pain sometimes, because it allows an opportunity for us to dig deeper and ask ourselves “Why?”.
If this resonates with you, ask yourself three questions:
- Why do I feel hurt when I don’t feel heard?
- Why does it feel like what I have to say is not important?
- Is it true?
Dig deeper. We often try to toughen up and push our feelings down, and say to ourselves, “Oh, that’s okay I was done anyway, or they were just teasing”, or whatever. But no, honor your feelings, because those feelings you’re pushing down are often the feelings of your inner child. My inner child likes to feel nurtured, seen, heard, playful, attractive, fun, joyful, and most importantly loved! What does your inner child like to feel?
Consider having an inner dialogue with your inner child. It’s literally a conversation in your head with yourself. Give her/him a name or nickname. Keep it positive. Keep it simple. Reassure him/her. I can help you with this, if you need specific dialogue ideas or affirmations.
If you have kids or grandkids, spend time with them, listen to them, make them feel important and heard. Teach them how to be good listeners and good communicators, especially when it comes to sharing their feelings. Kids need to be able to express their emotions in a safe and nurturing environment. Work with them on words that express emotions like frustrated, insecure, lonely, invisible, unheard, or unsafe. Of course, this assumes they already are able to express the basics, like angry, sad, scared, happy, silly, etc.
When we hang out with little ones, this also gives us a way to get in touch with our inner child. They bring it out of us. Play games like hide and seek, tag or whatever they want you to play with them. Your inner child will be rushing to say “not it!” before you know it!