Reaching Your Inner Child
It may seem this blog is for my Secret Weigh people but it's actually for every one because we all neglect our inner child and we all suffer as a result of that.
I first came across this way of looking after my 'inner child' about 20 years ago while I was trying to find a miracle to cure my emotionally paralysing bulimia. I didn't realise just how much I had pushed my own needs to one side and what a negative effect that was having on my life. When I found that my inner child was being neglected and ignored it changed a lot for me overnight and the constant self harming with food finally stopped and I found the happy road to freedom.
What I learned is that your voice within, shouldn't be denied or ignored because if it is, it will manifest itself very negatively in your life and I believe that goes for our children too.
Author Alvyn M. Freed said of your inner child - "Don't let some dumb little kid ruin the rest of your life."
Most people don't know very much about their emotions or how they actually feel both physically and psychologically, so what chance do our children have?
I would say that the majority of people use food to counter their feelings and they pass this on to their children. Instead of acknowledging what they are feeling and why that is, most of us eat some food, have a cup of tea, play some computer games, go shopping, take drugs, anything to avoid actually 'feeling' anything negative. But feeling negative things is part of being alive and it is actually a positive thing because it's how we move on and progress as human beings.
Life is hard and once you accept that it becomes a lot easier.
When our children cry, for what appears to be no reason, i.e they are not getting their own way, they don't want to sit at the dinner table anymore, they want that toy, they don't want to go to bed yet... Do you tell them to shush and stop being naughty? I am definitely guilty of that, especially if I'm really busy or tired. But let's think about it. Are we actually helping our children by telling them to shush? Wouldn't it be better for them and save them a lot on counselling bills when they are older, if we help them realise why they are feeling sad or angry? I think it might make all the difference if we help our children understand their emotions, but how we can we do that when we don't even acknowledge our own.
I have a plan to help you.
In my Secret Weigh Group on Facebook we are trying to stop using food to squash all emotions, so let's use food as an example. If you don#'t use food to self harm you may smoke or drink, some of you will shop, some of you will be addicted to the internet etc etc but we can use this same exercise for all 'emotion avoiding addictions',
When we were tiny children ourselves, we were all wonderful, wild and free. Our parents, of course, were forced to impose rules, discipline and punishments on us, so we could integrate in to society but they also cuddled and loved us with praise and comfort.
Now e are grown up aspects of that childhood remain with us and so if you had a normal childhood inside each of you should be..
A Critical Parent
A Loving Parent
These different aspects help direct our actions and if used correctly, help us deal with life and all the twists and turns it brings. You don't need that donut to stuff down your anger or those roast potatoes to make you feel less sad and lonely. Inside each of us are the tools to get through this sometimes cruel and yet equally wonderful life. To do that healthily you need to start listening to those 3 aspects of yourself and here's how to that.
But first let's meet the team...
The Critical Parent
Most of us hear the Critical Parent a lot of the time. For example, when I've done something stupid, I hear my critical parent telling me what an idiot I've been and how if I wasn't so lazy things would be better. Most compulsive eaters for example only hear this voice and the other two essential parts of the self become a distant whisper, that we don't even realise is there. Don't be fooled in to thinking the critical parent is a negative thing though. We need your critical parent to drive us on and make us more tenacious. It's only if it takes over and becomes all we hear that it is a problem. A critical parent could save your life or be the extra push you need to get that job but we need all three aspects of ourselves to truly excel at life
The Loving Parent
Not many of us will have heard this one as it tends to be drowned out by The Critical Parent and the tantrum crazed Inner Child. The Loving Parent will encourage you to take a rest when you need one. It will be logical about 'mum guilt' and urge you to take care of yourself for once. The Loving Parent has empathy and will tell you it's OK to not be OK. If we have too much of The Loving Parent in our lives though then we will not get very much done. You can't always be telling yourself it's OK to stay in bed or that you don't have to do anything you don't want. Everything in moderation.
The Inner Child
When you were little, if you had a healthy childhood, when you were hurt or tired you got a hug. When you were angry you had a tantrum and perhaps sometimes you were soothed but sometimes you might have been ignored or even told off. All children have a wide range of emotions and most often they have no idea what to do with their feelings, why they feel the way they do or how to deal with them. Your inner child is no different. Your Inner Child is the one who will spiral you out of control if you don't acknowledge it. It will eat when you are not hungry. Shop when you have no money and sabotage you whenever it can if you don't listen to it. But you owe it to yourself to take care of your Inner Child and most adults don't. Sadly we ignore this part of ourselves until it's crying out at us to listen, sometimes it's screaming at us and we still don't realise anything is wrong!
I have been in many abusive relationships and I realise now that if someone had treated Phoenix the way I was treated, I would definitely not have allowe it to continue for even a minute longer and yet I let my own Inner Child be abused for years. Next time someone is mean to you, think of a child you know who is about 6 years old. If you would not allow someone to treat that child that way, don't let them do it to your Inner Child either. It is so important we protect the innocent us.
To help you get in touch with your Inner Child look out for when you use words like;
I want, I feel, Nobody cares about me, I'm angry, I wish, I hope. Or simply look out for when you find yourself at the fridge and you know you're not hungry or when you indulge in any behaviour that is actually harming you, that's when your Inner Child is having a tantrum because you have ignored her/him for too long!
To make your life easier and more fruitful it's essential that you get in touch with all three of these parts of yourself.
I have names for mine. My Inner Child is Esme. My Loving Parent is Mummywell and my Critical Parent is Grotbags!
There is a way to get all three aspects of yourself working together, which will help with your eating if you are doing my 'Secret Weigh' and it will generally help with your life and the lives of your children, if you are just reading this as a parent.
The Secret Weigh to tame your Inner Child
Next time you want to do something that you know is self destructive like eat when you're not actually hungry, shop when you don't need anything, smoke etc etc.....
Get a piece of paper and a pen.
With your less dominant hand (in my case my left) write down the feelings of your Inner Child.
With your dominant hand (in my case my right hand) write down your Loving Parents response.
Here is a typical conversation I might have with myself on paper having found myself at the fridge about to stuff a cheesecake in my face when I'm not hungry....
Loving Parent (written down with my right hand)
Are you hungry?
Inner Child (written own with my left hand)
Then why are you eating?
Oh blimey, let's put the heating on then
No I don't want to, I won't get warm quickly enough
Well you won't get warm eating standing at the fridge, let's think of a different way? I know let's jump in the bath or you could have a nice cup of warm tea and we'll put the heating on, that way you can warm your hands on the cup while the radiators get warmer
Oh yes a cup of tea sounds nice, can I have a biscuit?
Are you hungry for a biscuit?
No but I'll be bored just drinking tea
Why don't you read a magazine then?
Oh yay, perfect I'll do that and have a biscuit when I'm hungry!
As you can see, it seems crazy but by writing it down and using different hands to write, you give yourself time and space to actually listen to yourself. Now I'm a mum and I barely get time to scratch my arse so I know that you won't always have time to do this, but try it a few times and keep it in your head and I guarantee it will become second nature to you. Some times your Critical Parent might need to jump in but at first try to keep it between your Inner Child and Loving Parent, as like I have said, most of us hear the Critical Grotbags often enough.
Don't worry if sometimes that defiant child wins either and sometimes the loving thing to do is give in anyway but at least this way you give yourself a chance to think and see what's really going on for you.
When you start this process, don't be surprised if feelings come flooding in. Sometimes feelings emerge that you haven't felt for years because they have been stuffed down with food and tiredness.
Children (and adults) are a prism of wonderful colourful feelings but we are made to control feelings both the good and the bad by society. If children are gleeful and hyper, we tell them to calm down. When they are hysterical we quiet them. By the time we and our children are adults we are so in control of our emotions we lose touch with what we are really feeling. Please don't let this happen to your children and you can do that by getting in touch with your own feelings using this method today.
Feelings and emotions are wonderful, dramatic things. They make our lives richer and more dynamic.. Don't live under a cover and don't let your children either, it's bad for you. It stifles creativity and it causes us to self harm. That means, overeat, overwork, feel tired and generally it stops us from enjoying our lives.
Finally, the next time someone says something hurtful to you, remember your Inner Child. Don't let anyone hurt your 'Emse'! Stick up for her, protect her and I guarantee to you that she will make your life a whole lot richer and wilder!
If you want to learn more about my Secret Weigh Group you can join it by clicking on the link and if you want to learn more about the Inner Child exercise please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Please do feel free to share my post if it has helped you. Can't wait to hear what you all think! x