Why Healing Your Inner Child is Crucial to Parenting
You can feel the burning sensation of frustration in your head, the scream you are trying to hold back in your throat, your fists are tight, and you feel like you want to stomp your feet and cry hot tears, just like your little one tantrum-ing in front of you (for the 10th time today). You can no longer hold back, you explode and yell or throw up your hands and shut down. Later, the guilt of that hard moment sets in and you spend the rest of the day shaming yourself for being a bad mom. Sound familiar?
Do you ever feel out of control with your feelings? Do you just react to the situation and feel bad later or wonder "where did that come from?" This is a part of parenthood we tend to not speak about, pretend it isn't there, or shame others or ourselves for not "keeping it together."
When we lose control of our emotions, it is usually because of two things:
1. Our basic needs (food, rest, shelter) are not being met.
2. Your inner child (tiny you) is running the show, not your adult self.
Both are important but this post is about the work you might have to do with the little one inside.
We all have parts of ourselves; we are not just one singular entity. No, I am not talking about multiple personalities, although it can feel like that sometimes. What I am talking about are the fractioned parts of our psyche that come out when we are in certain situations or life roles. For example, do you show up differently in your partnership as opposed to how you show up as a parent? Alternatively, do you notice a difference in your personality when you are around your family of origin versus your friends or co-workers? Most of these parts are very functional and integrated into your personality. Some parts, however, have emotional wounds that are unresolved and get in the way of functioning. These parts of you, often younger and less developed, require healing to become integrated into your personality and how you show up everyday.
When these un-healed parts are triggered, the reaction you experience is often disproportionate to the situation at hand. The feelings described above are maybe just a small description of what actually happens for you. Before we have awareness and supervision of these precious parts of self, we experience times where a behavior your child does sends you into an emotional ball of fire and you react based on your dysregulated feelings.
At no other time in life is the opportunity greater to heal than in motherhood. Until now, you may have been able to ignore tiny-you. When you become a mother, you now have the tiny version of you that needs healing out in front of you to see (hint: it's your kiddo). This can bring up all kinds of uncomfortable feelings that will remain uncomfortable until you make some space to heal.
My favorite example of this is when my daughter takes waaayyyy too much time getting herself ready and seems to conveniently "forget" how to brush her teeth, or put on her pants, or eat her breakfast, etc. In logical rational me, I know that as a 4 year old she has no concept of time and is therefore distracted by the other, more shiny aspects of life. Emotionally, however, I feel so angry and get frustrated with her lack of urgency and focus. I used to get "the look" on my face and would start directing and nagging her to "get it together." My whole body would be vibrating with frustration because the more I reacted, the less she would do what I told her. You can imagine the viscous cycle that took place that ended with both her and I crying. After doing some inner child work, I realized that tiny me was afraid that if I didn't stay on task and focused, I was not safe and bad things would happen. I projected this onto my daughter and tried to mold her behavior to heal my inner child that was terrified and insecure. Now, I can recognize her behavior as a possible trigger and I can comfort my own inner child and remain centered. As I take care of myself, and pour energy into my own healing, there is no negative energy for my daughter to feed off of. Therefore, her behavior is not reinforced and it only takes one reminder instead of several to redirect her behavior.
As we grow up, we are conditioned to think, feel, and behave certain ways to fit into our family, peer, or cultural group, or to avoid pain. The conditioning that occurs can be perpendicular to our natural way of being. Meaning, what our outer system wants does not match what our inner system needs. There is a dis-honoring of self for the sake of connection or a fear of something painful happening. Not only does this instill a belief that we need to be someone different than we are, but it also can create painful emotional states in adult life.
Healing your inner child brings you back to your natural way of being. It connects you with a part of your spirit that has been stuck in a negative feedback loop of fear and pain. When you work to heal your inner child, your reaction that once felt out of control and "crazy" is now grounded and aligned. Children become dysregulated all the time and they look to their parents to help contain their very big feelings. They need you to do your soul work so you can show up for them in the way they need. Sometimes, you have to acknowledge that you did not get your needs met properly or that you feel shame about a behavior or situation from your childhood. This is the hardest part. There is another side to this. When you acknowledge the hurt and find a way to nurture and protect the little one inside you, you build trust with your inner child. She will then trust the adult you to make the decisions you know you can make. The adult you can then in turn be there fully for your child because the space isn't occupied by tiny you.
Take some time to do some of this soul work. The next time you notice your emotional reaction as being out of your control or disproportionate, create some alone time to do the following...
1. Place your hand on your heart, close your eyes, breathe
2. Visualize a memory from childhood that reminds you of the reaction you just experienced with your child.
3. Look at this beautiful child and see what she needs to make the sitaution she is in better.
4. As you adult self, visualize yourself giving her what she needs.
5. Observe how she calms down.
6. Now, notice how you feel. Your feelings may include calmness, peace, happiness, joy, contentment, etc.
7. Thank your heart and your tiny self for the experience.
8. Take a VERY deep breath and release any tension. Open your eyes and move forward.