Monday, January 15, 2018

Loving Inner Parent

We began our life as the “True Self”. Growing up in a dysfunctional family environment required we develop survival skills that in turn created a False Self. This False Self was carried into adulthood and perpetuated by an internalized Critical Parent or Inner Critic. We reclaim our True Self by re-parenting our Inner Child via our Loving Inner Parent with the help and guidance of our Higher Power.

The “Wonder” or “Divine" child of Jung, the “Natural” child of Bradshaw, and the “Inner Child” or “True Self" of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA); this child is healthy, confident, spontaneous, creative, sensitive, playful, instinctual, trusting, enthusiastic, vulnerable, magical, zestful, in the moment, and fully alive. The True Self as “The original person, being, or force which we truly are.” (BRB)

 As Adult Children we have survived the often horrendous circumstances in our childhood homes. As children ACAs may have been neglected or abused physically, emotionally and sexually. We  also may have been beaten, starved, shamed, marginalized or blamed for the misdeeds of parents. Even if  parents were not alcoholics or drug users, their own parents may have been, and the generational curse is passed down. Our inner child is buried alive and a false self comes forward to ensure survival. This false self expresses the traits in the ACA Laundry List, and the core of TheProblem.

Although we look like adults on the outside, ACAs are still using the codependent survival tools of wounded children in daily life, not having been given the love and security to be emotionally and psychologically healthy functioning adults. The need to resolve our childhood creates a repetition compulsion; an unconscious recreation of the circumstances in which we grew up, and the patterns of behavior we used to survive. 

Our “picker” is broken as we are attracted to relationships and situations that mirror our dysfunctional childhood environment. We may be harmed by or cause harm to the people in our life by perpetuating the negativity, shame, anger, rage, resentment, avoidance, isolation, control, judgment, perfectionism or addictions we experienced growing up. Because we are terrified of abandonment, we may tolerate high levels of victimization or abuse and consider it normal, living in chaos and using denial to remain in a dysfunctional comfort zone. 

Because we have internalized the negative voices or Critical Parent of our youth, we perpetuate the abuse; believing the voice of our inner critic as it judges us harshly and unfairly; undermining our self-worth and leaving us feeling depressed, incompetent, insignificant, empty and alone. The important thing to remember is this critical voice is not our True Self. 

Becoming your own Loving Parent is at the core of healing from a neglectful childhood, and the gateway to the child within. In fact, the ACA Big Red Book (BRB) recommends developing the Loving Parent prior to accessing our Inner Child as it may be holding onto intense rage, pain, and suffering and so can fuel addictive and destructive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In addition to the ACA twelve steps, this is the ACA Solution

By re-parenting ourselves with gentleness, humor, love, and respect, we find our child within and true connection to a Higher Power. This is the God who does not abandon. We come to understand that we can release our biological parents. We can continue to separate from our family in body and mind. This is an important step for us as we develop our own identity that is different than our dysfunctional family role. 

We learn in the ACA program to re-parent ourselves with the help of our Higher Power by acknowledging and honoring the feelings of our Inner Child and affirming that we have good qualities. We replace the internalized critic with a Loving Parent, reclaiming our True Self with unconditional love and compassion. Wholeness requires the acceptance and integration of our character defects or survival traits with our healthy and positive character strengths, so that we have a balanced personality. 

Whenever we take inventory of our defects, we must also inventory our basic strengths and positive attributes. With help from our Higher Power we move out of denial through increased awareness of our early experiences. One way to access and create dialogue between our Higher Power, Loving Parent and Inner Child is meditation and prayer. Another is writing and journaling. We may use the dominant hand to express the Loving Parent and the non dominant hand to express the Inner Child. 

We may journal, write letters or poetry back and forth, or simply allow our Inner Child to draw, sing and dance to bring to the surface their energies and experiences. You may find these practices will also enhance your spiritual life and conscious contact with a Higher Power.

We are not alone in this journey. For ACAs, Codependents, and others, safe space for our Inner Child is found in meetings, fellowship, supportive friends and family, sponsorship, outreach calls, Twelve Step study groups, retreats, and formal therapy. We find the strength and support necessary to heal our wounds, grieve our lost childhood years, and not remain stuck in the past. We learn to create a safe space to nurture our Inner Child so we can thrive. 

In our new life as a whole and complete person, the False Self is dissolved, the Critical Parent is silenced, and the Loving Parent is manifested to become a constant guide to encourage and affirm us, and negotiate wise and fair choices to set and enforce reasonable and healthy boundaries.  The True Self/Inner Child again expresses the wonder, joy, enthusiasm, spontaneity and zest for life that is its birthright. This is our homecoming, to that still, peaceful, holy place deep within us that never changes or is lost. 

There are many ways we might view how we developed and parent ourselves or others. These differing perspectives can serve to widen and deepen our understanding of ourselves and others and lead to wisdom and transformation. the following paragraphs highlight these differing aspects with links to full page and/or blog links for further illumination. Pick some that interest you and take a look!

We'd like to start with what we consider the most important thing for humans in general and each of us personally: Love. Many of us growing up in dysfunctional homes and families missed out on love, or had it quashed over time. We built up barriers to protect ourselves, but this also kept out true connection, intimacy, and love. See how we tore down the walls to at last find our true love selves in "Love Broke Thru" 

Next we explore the secrets and science of love in "Matters of the Heart". Here we see how science is verifying what we felt all along in our hearts, that love affects our health and happiness in many, many ways. Taking this to the extreme, we wonder if love might be the uniting "Theory of Everything" in "Love Force". It is perhaps a stretch of the imagination, but a fun one at that!

When Brene Brown, a top researcher professor at the University of Houston and author of five New York Times best selling books studied connection, love, and belonging, she found vulnerability, shame, and empathy at the core. She discovered what was troubling us at the most basic levels. Her work has brought great healing to many, many people, we couldn't recommend her more highly. 

As connection, love, and belonging lie at the heart (literally) of all that is really important to us, relationships are where these are realized (or not). For this reason you may want to read the post on "Relationships - Love and Belonging", and consider how these dynamics work (or don't) in your life.

Dr. Alan Watsons video entitled "Being Brilliant Every Single Day"  is a very intriguing, informative, and entertaining expose of how  stress creates, as he says, "A do it yourself frontal lobotomy". Really not what we want during tests, public speaking, and other important but stressful situations. Here we learn how to keep our heads and hearts when the going gets tough. It is nearly forty five minutes, but worth it.

Dr. Watson's work is mirrored in the work of the HeartMath Institute which claims heart rate coherence can lead to 24% improvement in the ability to focus, 30% improvement in sleep, 38% improvement in calmness, 46% drop in anxiety, 48% drop in fatigue, and a 56% drop in depression. Amazing numbers for sure. We don't know the validity of their claims, but The Science of Heart Rate Variability is worth looking at.  

 "The Circle of the Soul" explores how the conscious and unconscious, and positive and negative aspects of our psyche and soul affect us on a daily basis and through-out our lives. Plato first imagined this, then Joseph Campbell ran with it, now it's our turn. We find it helpful to see what dynamics are working through us behind the scenes.

Lastly, we would like to again reference one of favorite posts in the pursuit of the True Self; "True Happiness" and it's corresponding side by side comparison of True and False Happiness (and Self). The focus is happiness, but the fact is this concept of happiness being a deeply intrinsic and infinite resource applies to many things ("Super Powers") we hold most dear, such as love, peace, joy, beauty, and so on.

Resources and further reading:

BRB” or  “Big Red Book”: Chapter Eight, The Solution: Becoming Your Own Loving Parent

 “Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child” by John Bradshaw  

Recovery of Your Inner Child” by: Lucia Capacchione                              
“Healing the Child Within” by: Charles Whitefield                            

Copyrights 11/17

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