In my last post, I talked about the value of meeting a “younger self” in visualisation. I said and believe that this is an emotional but worthwhile step in trying to come to terms with childhood trauma, lack of connection or other dysfunctional aspects of a parent-child relationship. It brings a good amount of awareness, at the very least.
Good step as this is, it is really only the beginning. Connecting with your younger self (inner child) means also having to deal with your core wound (not good enough, unlovable, etc). Surrounding the core that carries this wound are the protection measures employed and adopted as a child to cope with any dysfunction. These measures develop into so-called “thinking parts” that become eventually the way we think and ultimately react to situations. These “thinking parts” (namely the inner critic, the avoidance, guilt, anger voices among many others) try to dominate when they sense the need for protection. They advocate keeping the status quo (being stuck) through rigid thinking, belittling, avoidance and procrastination. They guilt into submission and try to avoid that the “host” faces anything like the childhood trauma faced earlier. The bad news is that we often listen to them because their arguments are convincing. It takes less effort to stay where you are than move forward. The more we listen through self-talk and emotional traffic, the stronger they become.
Many advocates of inner child therapy will talk of being aggressive with these elements of our thinking. In my opinion, we need to find compassion for them. They are part of us and as such need us to understand and empathise with the job they have selflessly done since the time they were first created.
On this basis, I develop the process described in my last post to describe the adult and the child in a place where they might feel safe, calm and more likely in “self” mode (relaxed, compassionate and open-minded). One by one, the internal family can be added to this place and personified (it is sometimes easier to relate to the parts as people or animals). Once there, they can be communicated with by the adult who asks for information about what is being protected. (This can also be done in visualisation or meditation)
Once we connect with our internal family and their purpose, it is much easier to understand the way we have been holding ourselves back for many years. This understanding can be used to deal with the fear that taking action brings.
Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychotherapist in online private practice working with individuals, couples and groups, dealing with codependency issues, severe depression, bipolar, personality disorders, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders and other mental health issues. He has been practicing online for many years and recognized early that online therapy was a convenient method for people to meet their therapist. Working outside the box, he goes that extra mile to make sure clients have access to help between sessions, something that is greatly appreciated. He also gives part of his spare time up to mentor psychology students in a university setting.