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You Have an Inner Child
All the people we call "geniuses" are men and women who somehow escaped having to put that curious, wondering child in themselves to sleep.
All of us have two distinct aspects of our personality: the Adult and the Child. When these two parts are connected and working together, there is a sense of wholeness within. When these two parts are disconnected, however, because of being wounded, dysfunctional, or undeveloped, there is a sense of conflict, emptiness, and aloneness within.
It is very important to have a clear and positive understanding of the Inner Child. Traditionally in our culture children have been seen as less than adults -- less important and less knowing. As children we generally experienced ourselves as powerless, so we often equate the concepts of powerlessness and unimportance with being a child. In addition, because we were so often told that we were bad and the cause of trouble, we may think of our Inner Child as a troublemaker. Because we were not truly valued as children, it may be hard to value the Child within us. We may discount its importance, thereby perpetuating our experiences of childhood by creating a disconnection within ourselves that then causes our misery. Understanding and valuing our Child is essential for becoming whole.
Defining the Inner Child
The Inner Child has a full range of intense emotions -- joy and pain, happiness and sadness. The Inner Child functions in the right-brain modes of being, feeling, andexperiencing, as opposed to the Adult who functions in the left-brain modes of doing, thinking, and acting, but who also has a full range of feelings. "Doing" relates to the external physical world and to performing an action, while "being" refers to existing on an internal, emotional, and spiritual level. "Doing" is an outer experience while "being" is an inner experience.
Here is an example in Erika's words of how she comforted her Inner Child during a sudden and intense moment of grief.
How we really function became very clear to me on a trip to San Diego that a friend and I had taken. We went to Sea World to see the new Orca calf that had just been born. While we were watching the baby whale I began searching the tank for my friend Orky, a large male killer whale that I had become acquainted with. I loved Orky and knew him on sight, but I couldn't find him in the tank.
All of a sudden a chill swept over me when I saw divers leaving a holding tank in the back of the stadium. I knew Orky was dead. We frantically ran to the other side of the tank and asked the trainers what had happened. They told us nothing was wrong -- they pointed to a small female whale and told me that was Orky. I knew better. My fears became real after talking to one of the divers.
I immediately felt stunned with grief and sadness. Both parts of me were sad and crying, but each part of me experienced that grief from a different place. The Adult part of me was not only sad, but outraged. I was angry that I had been lied to and concerned with the kind of care Orky had been given. My first impulse from my Adult was to do something, to search out someone in authority and demand an explanation. Then I heard the voice of my Inner Child. She didn't care about who was involved or about how and why it had happened -- she was in too much pain for anger. She only knew she had lost her big friend and would never see him again. She felt awful that they wouldn't even let her say goodbye.
I decided my first responsibility was to my Inner Child and before I would do anything else I would let her be and deal with her grief first. So we sat on a bench and sobbed for several minutes. I was glad that I made the decision to let my investigations wait until she was ready. Had I not allowed her that time and experience, my grief would have been much more difficult for me to deal with. My Inner Child would have felt not only the loss of Orky, but the loss of my caring as well.
The Child is the instinctual part of us, our "gut" feelings. The Child has sometimes been referred to as the unconscious, but it is unconscious only because we have paid so little attention to it. The unconscious becomes readily available to consciousness when we wish to learn about it. Our Inner Child contains our feelings, memories, and experiences from childhood, which can be remembered when we seek to learn from our Inner Child .
We can look at the Child in two distinct ways -- the Child when it is being loved by the Inner Adult and the Child when it is unloved, when it is criticized, neglected, and abandoned by the Inner Adult. There is only one Inner Child. At any given moment that Child is either being loved or unloved by the Inner Adult, and its feelings and behavior come directly from the Adult's choice to learn about the Child's wants, needs, and feelings and take responsibility for them, or to protect against this knowing and responsibility.
The Unloved Child
When the Inner Adult chooses to protect him/herself against experiencing and being responsible for the feelings and needs of the Child, then the Adult disconnects from the Child through various forms of shaming, neglect, and indulgence. The Child is left feeling unloved, abandoned, and very much alone inside. The Child concludes that it must be bad, wrong, unlovable, unimportant, inadequate, or not enough, or it would not have been abandoned, originally by external adults (parents and grandparents) and eventually by the Inner Adult...Healing Your Aloneness. Copyright © by Margaret Paul. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.