Category Archives: inner child

From the therapy room: Freeing the inner child

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Although I mostly work with adults, much of my work concerns children. Yes – children of all ages – toddlers, shy pre-schools, unruly sulky teenagers. These children come to me hidden within adult bodies and desperately needing help. I already wrote more than once about the importance of healing your inner child to set yourself free to lead a happier and a more fulfilling life as an adult. You may check out:

Healing our inner child

Redeeming the sparks or Children frozen in time

Recognizing Childhood Trauma

This blog post, however, is extra-special, as here I hand over to one of my clients who tells about a transformational encounter with his inner child that happened during one of our sessions. We used a technique that I call ‘time-travelling’ and that I found to be very effective in rescuing lost children (and lost adults!). It is a very moving and powerful story and I am grateful to the author for sharing it with us.

Let the sand flow!

For many years I was creatively blocked, as if something was frozen within me. When people talked of “feelings”, I had no idea what they meant. It was like a foreign language. It was if they were all in the normal world together, and I was isolated, having somehow missed that day at school. Looking back now it seems as if something was struggling within me, like a bird beating against a cage wanting to break free. But setting it free was frightening. The conflict produced terrible headaches that stopped me in my tracks, forcing a movement in a new direction, and eventually, very reluctantly, prompted by an osteopath, I decided to try therapy. It turned out to be an incredible journey for me, still unfolding, but I won’t talk about it all today. I want to talk about one little episode to which I kept returning over and over again through many sessions.

One day at school (I must have been about 4 or 5) I’m in a sand pit with some friends. We’re throwing the sand around, and I take a cup, fill it full of sand, and pour it over my ears. I’m amazed at this experience. It feels so wonderfully pleasurable, the smooth flow of the sand, almost like water, but more exciting in its sense of material weight pressing in, the warmth enclosing me, and every moment of the flow so fascinating in its own way. I can feel every individual grain of that sand – each one is different, unique, itself, felt so sensitively – and yet it’s all still  connected, all one, simple and easy. I can’t let go of the feeling all day. Can’t wait to get home to my Mum and Dad so I can share this wonderful thing, this brilliant new secret I’ve discovered with them. As soon as I get in the door, I tell them in a rush, so excited I can hardly get the words out.

In the silence that follows it slowly begins to dawn on me that something is not quite right. Then I notice my father’s grim face and my mother’s eyes wide with fear.

“You were pouring sand over your… ears? Let me look at them.” She gets hold of me, pushes away my hair and twists my ear rather sharply, causing me to gasp in pain.

“Do you realise you could have damaged the inside parts – they’re very delicate – and become deaf for your whole life?” says my Dad. “You never think, do you? Nothing matters to you, you’re so irresponsible.”

Mum looks away from me, almost tearful, and so very disappointed, as if our world has collapsed. “Make sure, you never do it again.”

After this the sand instantly transforms from a thing of joy and beauty to one of stressful anxiety and danger. And with that a nagging crippling fear enters my heart. It is a fear of letting go to the creative flow within me, something of my very own, just experienced simply for its own pleasure.

“Are you seeing that sand pit now?” The voice of the therapist reaches me.

“Yes, I do,” I reply.

“And the little boy, is he still there?” says the therapist.

“Yes, he is there .. he looks rather sad .. and alone..”

“Why don’t you talk to him?” urges the therapist.

“What do you mean?” I simply don’t know how to do this.

“Go and talk to him!” she coaxes.

“And what shall I say?” I need my lines worked out in advance, I always have.

“Don’t worry about that .. just talk to him, he needs you.”

The therapist wants me to dive in and connect, take a risk. The boy sits listlessly in the sand pit, absently trailing his hand through the sand. I approach, and stand watching, my mind frozen with confusion. It’s hopeless.

“I don’t know what to say to him.”

The therapist reassures me. “You do, look, he is so sad ..”

I decide to at least have a go. “Hello.” The boy mutters something, looking away. “How are you?” No response from the boy. “Look, it’s alright to play with the sand, but you must be responsible ..”

The therapist intervenes. “Is that how you talk to a child!?”

The hopelessness bubbles up. “I don’t know how to talk to a child!”

The therapist replies. “You do!”

I kneel down to the child’s level, at the side of the pit, and start trailing my hand in the sand like he is doing. “It’s nice isn’t it?”

The boy mutters “I can’t …”

I reply “You can’t do what?”

The boy looks away again “Play …”

I escape back to the therapist. “But I can’t tell him it’s alright, it’ll damage …”

The therapist still refuses to give me my lines, trusting me to do it on my own. “Just connect with him, communicate…”

I turn back to the boy, with a bit more confidence. “Ok .. what’s the matter?”

The boy replies “I can’t …”

I continue to trail my hand in the sand, mimicking his movements. I try and connect. “You know, it’s so nice … I like playing with the sand, I’m always doing it …”

Something is changing in me now, I’m getting him, this boy — I’m somehow with him, on his side, sensing a leap I might take.

The boy looks briefly hopeful, but then shuts down. “Adults don’t play.”

I more boldly pour the sand, higher up my arms and on to my neck. “I do.”

The boy is shocked. “You can’t do that!”

I continue to pour the sand, with obvious calm enjoyment. “Why not?”

The boy becomes tearful. “I did it, poured it all over me once, it was lovely .. but they say I can’t.”

I slowly move my hand towards him and tip some sand gently down his upper arm. “Who says?”

The boy replies. “Mum and Dad.”

I gently ask. “Why not?”

The boy whispers. “It’ll damage my ears, I was bad …”

I slowly move my hand full of sand up to his ear, and let a little trickle down it. He flinches slightly, but feels the pleasure again. “Look, isn’t it lovely?”

I then trickle sand over my ears as well. “You can’t .. adults don’t ..” the boy says.

I continue to steadily trickle the sand over our ears. “I do”, I tell him.

The boy is unsure, but doesn’t move away. He’s sensing the initial thrill the sand gave him, once again.

I feel I’m getting it now, really connecting. “They don’t understand about sand, about play,” I tell him.

The boy sadly acknowledges this now. “No ..”

We hold each other with a calm and warm eye contact. “That’s alright,” I say quietly.

The boy is still unsure. “Is it?”

I feel I’m truly with the boy now, feeling with him effortlessly. “They just don’t get how lovely it is, like we do”, I tell him.

The boy smiles. “No.”

We now begin to tip the sand over our ears and bodies with increasing abandon. I tell him. “I do it every day, it’s beautiful.”

He stares at me in wonder. “Do you really?”

I feel strong and sure. “Yes! I even carry a big can of sand with me in my rucksack, so I can do it anywhere I happen to be! And I’m not deaf!”

The boy laughs, thrilled. “Will you come back and play with me again?”

I’m loving this now. “Yes, whenever you want.” And I know I will.

I feel so different after all this. Well, to put it simply, I do feel, at last. The adult me had liberated the boy from his frozen state — he’s stepped in finally, and healed the wound his parents had inflicted, by telling him not to trust the flowing ‘sand’ at his heart. This was about giving the boy back his power, and celebrating it. And I’d been freed up too. By allowing the boy to live and breathe fully within me, I’d also allowed the mature me to fully release the breath I’d been holding for so long, and start to stretch my wings. I’d told the boy this, and so made it ‘real’, so now it’s as if I always am carrying a can of sand, in my rucksack, always available, and safe, magical, easy, and flowing.

The sand was a powerful early experience of sensuous pleasure, which was quickly stamped out, labelled dangerous, meaning I came to shut it down, locking it tightly within. Later anything similarly big and pleasurable, like sex, became a problem. But now the boy and the man are together, far more, in all their experiences, through going back and re-visiting the sand pit, and having it out together. They’ve found each other once again, these lonely wanderers. Now they are available to each other, the boy and the man, at their most vulnerable times – the boy helping the man play, and the man giving the boy mature guidance — to keep the sand flowing. They relish the presence of each other now, each being bigger because of the unique and fascinating difference of the other, that they are intimate with, and have strongly included, but refuse to pin down and second guess. It’s basically a simple and strong love affair between the boy and the man, each letting the other off the hook for what they are, each giving the other free reign in every fresh moment. It makes life continually open and exciting, and magically rich.

At last I can start to calmly and fully enjoy each grain, each moment of my experience, as unique and incomparable, letting go and feeling it without anxiety. This contrasts with a frantic rush to a destination point I’ve been obsessed with, so I was never really living at all. In particular I feel this to be settling on a sexual level, where each moment of the experience becomes more normal and comfortable, as I give myself permission to fully be where I am and live it. This also liberates the climax, through it mattering less, to be all it can be, so the intense joy of it can flow more comfortably into everything. So I come to feel that all my experience, however mundane, has a sensuous pleasurable quality, as if now the sand never stops flowing. One cup of sand, continuously flowing, a whole thing. And yet its flow is actually made up of tiny individual grains, each fully felt as a unique moment, and so also separate.

Perhaps there are experiences like the sand in many of our early lives, lying frozen, ready for our return, so they can thaw, and flow once again.

It was terrible headaches that brought me into therapy. They haven’t gone completely yet, but they have definitely lightened and softened. Some of that old oppressive pressure has released, amidst a sense of cooling soothing flow – very like the early joyous experience of the boy in the sand pit..

Dealing with anxiety

DSCF1098aOne of the most common complaints that bring people to therapy is anxiety. Anxiety is something familiar to all of us. Part and parcel of our human condition it peppers our existence and we develop strategies and learn how cope with anxiety on the daily basis. However, sometimes anxiety can become so intense or so frequent that it severely undermines one’s life.

In order to learn how to deal with anxiety it is important to understand its nature and the role it plays in our life. In this blog article I am going to look at the various facets of anxiety and discuss its underlying neurological and emotional mechanisms, root causes as well as possible treatments.

Anxiety symptoms

What are the signs that you may be suffering from anxiety? There are a number of symptoms, emotional as well as physical, that can help you gain a better understanding of what is happening.

Emotional symptoms include feeling fearful or panicky in certain situations. You may be constantly worrying that something may go wrong. You may be nervous and uneasy about social situations. Sometimes people have difficulty in concentrating or struggle to express themselves in an articulate way. Mood changes, sudden irritability, feeling overwhelmed or feeling that you are out of control are also common.

Physical symptoms may include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, stomach ache, nausea and sickness, headaches and migraines, dizziness, cold sweat, sleep disturbances with difficulty in falling or staying asleep as well as blushing, stammering or nervous coughing.

Anxiety… is your friend!

Anxiety is an uncomfortable psycho-physical state and our instinctual desire is to get rid of it. However, surprising as this may sound, anxiety is not your enemy. Quite on the contrary, the ‘function’ of anxiety is to protect us, to help us keep safe. The feelings of anxiety arise as a result of neurological processes in our brain that responds to perceived danger and issues warning signals. These signals, which we experience as anxiety, make us alert to the possible risks and indicate that we need to be prepared to meet them.

How then does it happen that the same situation may trigger only mild or no anxiety in some people and be absolutely overwhelming for others?

The answer to this question once again belongs to the field of neurology. It turns out that our brain, sophisticated as it is, cannot distinguish between the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary’ danger. Neither can it always estimate correctly the scope of the perceived danger. It bases its evaluation on our previous experiences.

Notice what situations trigger anxiety in you and ask yourself what you are afraid of. Are you afraid of being laughed at or criticized? Are you afraid of being physically hurt? Or perhaps you are afraid of failure and the ensuing feelings of shame and worthlessness? Whatever feelings come up, the chances are that you have already experienced them sometime in the past in a situation that bears certain resemblance to the current one. In that case, anxiety draws your attention to some emotional wounds that you may be carrying within you and that need healing.

Fear of not being able to cope

Anxiety is usually defined as the ‘fear of the unknown.’ This is true insofar as the ‘unknown’ triggers the feelings of anxiety, suggesting that there might be potential risks if we go in that direction. Very often though what we are really afraid of are not the challenges as such, but that we won’t be able to cope with them or the possible ‘negative’ outcome.

For example, if you are afraid of failing an exam or a job interview, your anxiety is not about the actual failure, but about emotions that this failure may evoke in you. Similarly, if you worry about losing your job, a great deal of your worry is about not being able to deal with the possible situation of financial hardship and the stress of finding another job.

Feelings of anxiety about doing routine things or things that are slightly out of your comfort zone may indicate that you are simply too tired and need to take a break to re-charge your batteries.

As I wrote above, it is very often the case that anxiety is rooted deep in our past experiences, which underlie our current experiences and intensify our emotional response to them. How can you tell whether this is so? If your anxiety appears to be disproportionate in relation to a particular situation chances are that there is something more to it, and in order to alleviate it you need to look at the root cause.

Helping your inner child

Psychological resilience, and trust in your ability to deal with whatever challenges life may throw at you, is the basis for coping effectively with anxiety. We develop this resilience throughout our life, but a foundation for it is created during our childhood. If your needs as a child haven’t been adequately met, if you didn’t feel safe or had to carry too heavy emotional burdens it is likely that you may be more affected by anxiety as an adult.

One of my clients used to suffer from acute anxiety when going more than 10 minutes away from home. When we explored the sensations she was having in her body they led us back to her early childhood. When she was growing up her parents were very busy at work and often left her as young as the age of 6 alone at home to take care of her younger siblings, including a baby. She remembered sitting petrified near telephone anxious whether she would be able to reach her parents and get help quick enough if something happened. A part of her, overburdened early on with too much responsibility, never properly matured, and faced with the challenges of adult life would fly into panic.

It is important to be compassionate and patient with these child-like parts deep within us and help them grow and gain confidence. For this task we need to engage our adult parts that are equipped with knowledge and life experiences. When we perceive our inner children panicking we can gently talk to them, reassuring him or her that they are not alone and will be given the right support and care.

How to deal with anxiety

The first step in dealing with anxiety is becoming more aware of what is going on for you in your mind and in your body, learning to recognize the triggers and pre-conditions (e.g. tiredness). If anxiety is persistent and intense, and stops you from enjoying your life and doing things that you want to do, I would encourage you to seek professional help.

Counselling and psychotherapy in combination with some form of body-mind therapy will help you to understand the root causes of your anxiety and release it from your system. In my practice I work a lot with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) and find it very effective for healing past traumas and ‘rewiring’ your brain. EFT is also a great self-help tool for coping with anxiety as you can apply it ‘on the go’ to bring the anxiety levels down immediately.

I see people face to face at my practice in Cambridge and also work online via Skype. You are very welcome to book a session if you would like to try my approach and see whether it can help you become free from your anxieties.

 

 

Recognizing childhood trauma

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Have you suffered a childhood trauma? Probably the majority of people if asked this question would answer ‘no.’ And yet many of them will be mistaken.

It may seem to you surprising how it is possible to be unaware of such a big thing as trauma – it is like overlooking an elephant in the room! Yet this is exactly what is happening. And the reason for that is that we simply don’t recognize an elephant for an elephant. Instead we see it as an integral part of the room’s interior.

When we hear the word ‘trauma’ we tend to think of a sudden shocking event with visibly manifest physical or/and emotional injuries. For example, surviving a car crash. Or being raped.

People who have lost one of their parents as children would sometimes say it was a trauma. Often, however, they would regard it just as a sad fact of life and won’t recognize that they have been traumatized by it.

Redefining trauma

We need to rethink then what we understand by trauma. I would say this: trauma is an event or a long-lasting situation that has a damaging impact on one’s emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.

When trauma is not addressed promptly and thoroughly it usually has long-lasting effects, which may severely undermine one’s life. Unfortunately, traumas resulting from suffering a long-term emotional distress very often go unnoticed and untreated for years, until some major crisis hits and a person suddenly finds him/herself at the point of a breakdown. It is about this type of trauma suffered during childhood that I want to write in this blog.

Fundamental childhood needs

Contrary to what we are used to thinking, being a child is very challenging! Look what a huge difference there is between a new born baby and a two year old toddler, and between that toddler and a first grader. As adults we don’t normally experience comparable developmental leaps. We tend to live more or less in our comfort zone and won’t leave it by our own accord. Children, however, have no choice! They are hard pushed by the very nature of their growing and developing – physically, cognitively and psychologically. They have very little space to bask in the comfort zone. Mostly, it is an ongoing climb.

When you look at childhood like this you can begin to appreciate how much support children need in order to transition successfully through all the developmental stages. The fundamental basic needs include:

  • SAFETY (emotional and physical);
  • Unconditional affection and consistent engaged interest of their parents and caretakers;
  • The right to make mistakes;
  • The right to express their feelings and have them acknowledged;
  • Positive encouragement and validation.

Probably most of us didn’t have all these needs met equally well at all periods of our childhood. But some people, sadly, had to grow up with the exact reverse of these conditions. Read on to see if it might have been your case.

Traumatic conditions in childhood

Existential threat

If a child gets beaten up or witnesses physical violence between the parents or towards other siblings, the child will experience it as a threat to his/her survival. Similar fear is also being engendered in a child if she or he is being constantly shouted at or hears his/her parents shouting at each other.

The lack of healthy boundaries also makes children feel unsafe. Children need a holding structure, within which they can explore, experiment rebel and grow. Growing up in a chaotic household is like being on a boat without an anchor in the open sea. Growing up with overly rigid boundaries (which usually involves punishment for breaking them) is like living in a prison.

Psychological overload

Sometimes young children are made to carry a burden that is too big for their age. For example, in a family with several children and hard working parents the elder child (sometimes at quite a tender age) may become like a parent to her/his younger siblings. This person will skip the carefree stage of childhood and grow up feeling overburdened by the heavy sense of responsibility, finding it difficult to relax and just have fun.

It also happens that a child may become like a parent to their parents if one of the parents is seriously ill or depressed. The parent’s needs in such a situation become a priority and a child learns to suppress his/her own needs in order not to disturb or upset the parent. The message that the child ingests is that of his/her own unimportance. As adults these children often struggle to express themselves, to say ‘no’, to assert their rights and to appreciate themselves and their needs and desires.

Blame, guilt, shaming

Are you constantly feeling guilty about things? Do you believe it is your fault if something goes wrong at work or at home? If your mother misses a doctor’s appointment do you gnaw yourself for not having reminded her?

Persistent feelings of guilt are a symptom of a childhood trauma. They are the result of the culture of blaming and shaming, of being made responsible for your parents’ problems and unhappiness. If you were told by your mother that she has sacrificed her academic career for you, she was giving you a guilt trip. If you have been ridiculed for not knowing the name of some composer, you have been shamed for ‘ignorance.’ The shame about your mistakes transforms into pervasive shame about who you are. It is toxic and paralyzing.

Emotional neglect

In order to thrive children need to feel (not just know intellectually!) loved, welcomed and appreciated. They feel this if parents spend enough time with them, hold them, play with them, talk to them about things that matter to them and take interest in their activities. If parents are working long hours and are only at home to fix dinner and send the child to bed, the child will feel abandoned.

The lack of caring attention during childhood is like the lack of nutrients and vitamins. It stunts the person’s emotional/psychological growth and impairs the development of strong healthy self-esteem. Emotional neglect and abandonment have long-lasting effect and can seriously undermine one’s life and ability to be happy.

Emotionally unstable parents

Children of emotionally unstable and mentally ill parents are in the highest risk category. There is virtually no safe place for them. They suffer from neglect and abandonment because their parents are preoccupied with their own stuff. They have to tiptoe around their parents to prevent them from snapping and ‘flipping.’ They suppress their needs, while trying to guess their parents’ needs and desires and learn to please in order to get approval. They can’t express their own preference or feeling without having it invalidated by the parent who always ‘knows better.’ If they do get praised it is usually for doing something that reinforces the parent’s sense of self-value. Emotional connection is either non-existent or erratic. Or a child may be made a confidante of a parent and a recipient of their psychological unloading. These children have been heavily traumatized and need help.

Acknowledging versus blaming

As a rule, parents who have failed in their role of a parent have themselves suffered childhood trauma. They deserve empathy and compassion. But so do you! It is not about blaming it is about acknowledging the facts and helping what we can help. It is about breaking the chain of trauma transmitted through generations and healing your life and the lives of your children and grandchildren.

Please help me to help others

This blog article is the most general sketch on childhood trauma. To learn more please follow my Facebook page (Soultap Therapy) where I post links to other literature and resources.

Please share this article with your friends and people who may benefit from this information. And feel free to post comments or write to me if you have questions.

 

 

 

 

 

The alchemy of intuition: How to trust ourselves

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In my previous article I suggested that our ability to trust other people is closely connected with our ability to trust ourselves and here I want to continue the discussion.

People often speak about “trusting your intuition.” But what is this mysterious thing that we call “intuition”? What kind of secret ingredients compose intuition and how can we account for the instances when it apparently fails us? Without pretending to be an adept, I would like to try and unravel the alchemy of intuition.

A very fine-tuned intuition presupposes a high degree of self-knowledge and ability to be in touch with your inner self on many different levels simultaneously. Awareness, I believe, is a key notion here and it includes:

  • awareness of your needs (physical and emotional);
  • awareness of your current state (physical and emotional);
  • awareness of the past experiences and how they may be affecting you now;
  • awareness of your desires, expectations and values;
  • awareness of your weaknesses and strengths.

(The list is, of course, incomplete.)

When dealing with a specific situation or a person we calibrate our self-knowledge against the knowledge that we possess about this person/situation and take a more or less informed guess. We draw upon our life experiences and acquaintance with human psychology. The more knowledge we have (both about ourselves and about others), the higher the probability that our guess will be accurate.

When our inner compass is confused

We rely on our intuition daily, making split-second decisions and evaluations that we often don’t even register. We sharpen it by making mistakes and learning from them. It is as if we had an inner compass that was guiding us through the complex maze of life-situations, suggesting which direction to take. Yet it can happen that our inner compass gets seriously confused and we don’t feel that we can rely on it. We then feel lost, bewildered and unable to make sense of what is going on. This state of confusion can be very painful and impairing. At one particularly difficult period in my life, when my whole world seemed to have turned upside down, I remember experiencing an ongoing physical sensation of a slight nausea, like a sea-sickness, when your balance is askew.

To repair our compass and overcome the confusion, it is important to understand what causes it. Reflecting on my own experiences and through my work as a therapist, I came to think that we lose trust in our inner judgment when our immediate – visceral – experience is forcefully contradicted or denied.

For example: imagine that everybody around you will start telling you that the grass is blue. At some point you will begin to doubt your own eyes and/or sanity. This is, of course, an exaggerated case, but it highlights the mechanism clearly. When our perception is invalidated by an overpowering authority we lose the point of reference. It is as if the hand of a compass habitually pointing North has been re-magnetized to point to a different direction. A Hebrew expression for feeling disoriented conveys precisely this idea: “to lose the North.”

Formative childhood experiences

As I suggested above, the ability to trust ourselves is intrinsically connected with our self-knowledge. We gain this knowledge by being in touch with our feelings and recognizing them for what they are. Childhood experiences are paramount in developing this ability. Especially, when we begin to speak. Young children don’t have names for emotions. They learn to recognize and articulate them with the help of adults. For example, when a child is angry and starts throwing things around and kicking furniture, the mother may tell him: “I can see that you are angry. You can say ‘I am angry’ – there is no need to kick this table.” Thus a child gets a word for identifying and expressing what is happening within him or her. Conversely, if the mother would shout “You are a bad boy!” the child will not learn to understand himself better. Instead he will associate the raging emotion of anger within him with being a bad person, someone his mother (and others – in the future) cannot love.

Unfortunately, it happens far too widely that a child’s emotional experience is not accurately acknowledged by parents or other adults in authority. In response to a child’s expression of his/her emotions parents impose valuating (often negative) judgment on it, deny or twist it.

Consider, for instance, a situation when a father teaches his little boy to cycle and the child falls and starts crying. The father says: “Stop crying, it doesn’t hurt that much! What a shame: you are a big boy!” The boy’s hurt is not being acknowledged, instead his feelings are denied and he is being shamed for having and expressing them. This creates a dissonance between an immediate experience and an ability to grasp it. If this “educational” trend continues it is very likely that the boy will gradually stop expressing his pain (physical as well as emotional pain) and even learn to block his feelings altogether.

As a child I was repeatedly told that I was selfish. My earliest memory of it goes to the age of 4 or 5 when I would refuse to share a candy with my younger sister. Reinforced by other incidents, the branding “selfish” became a part of my self-definition, my hidden shameful secret. Apart from developing a negative self-image, it also impaired my ability to acknowledge my needs and wants and to properly balance them with the needs and wants of other people. Every time I acted according to my needs I would feel bad about myself because it “confirmed” to me my “selfish” nature. It took me years to rid myself of this branding and reset my inner compass.

Perhaps one of the most painful experiences is when our sense of justice is violated. Consider such a typical situation (with multiple variations): two siblings are having a fight; the younger runs to complain and the older is being punished by default without a chance to explain what happened. Another quite common case is when a parent is in the wrong, but instead of acknowledging their fault he or she blames the child. In these cases a child’s sense of fairness and justice comes into conflict with an authoritative verdict of a parent. The child begins to doubt his/her own truth and this confusion may have very long-reaching implications.

Recovering trust in our inner judgment

Growing up with a parent who consistently invalidates your feelings and perception can be very damaging. It is difficult to own your feelings when they have been repeatedly denied or subverted. The first step towards recovering your ability to trust your inner judgment and developing your intuition is by separating your emotional experiences from your parents’ valuations. It may be helpful to ask yourself whose voice is speaking in your head when you tell yourself, for instance, that you are being “lazy”? Most likely that it is not your own voice, but the one of your father, mother, grandparents or a teacher.

As I said – we are not being born with ready labels for our emotional experiences and their behavioral expression. We acquire these labels through our parents/teachers who often misinterpret us and thus undermine our ability to trust ourselves. One gift that as adults we can give to our inner children is to acknowledge their feelings that have not been acknowledged in the past and thus help them (and us now!) heal.