By David Joel Miller.
Are there times your inner-child can’t get along with its siblings?
There has been lots of discussion, and more than a few books over the years, about having an inner child. That part of us that is leftover from childhood, who may have those emotional hurts and pains which have failed to heal properly. There are even some therapists who advertise that they specialize in “inner child work” by which they mean they work with adults on the emotional healing and growth that should have happened in childhood but as an adult, we realize still needs to receive attention. What about the times this approach does not work? Why won’t my inner-child go along with this program?
If you feel like you need to cry or scream like a little child why don’t you do it?
Now the very rational among us tell us that there is no inner-child hiding inside us. We can perform x-rays, ultrasounds, cat-scans and all manner of other tests and still no one seems to be able to find that inner child lurking in there. You can’t locate that inner child so why do so many so persistently feel that one must be present?
One way I have tried to work through this inner-child stuff is my continued belief that there are certain lessons, emotional ones, and intellectual ones, which I need to learn in life. If I did not learn those lessons at 8 then I will still be working on them at 80. Eventually, we all need to learn lessons and master emotions.
That might work if I could decide what that lesson was, what is the right answer that I need to arrive at for a happy life. Then I could study till I get it right. Wouldn’t that be reassuring? It may be that there is no one answer for so many of life challenges because you may have more than one inner child, inner twins or an inner family and those needs may be in conflict.
Our language has expressions that describe not one inner child but a whole inner family.
Do you ever find yourself thinking – part of me wants to do x and part of me wants to do Y? Do you say “on the one hand I think yes and on the other hand, I think No?”
Could one of the conflicts inherent in being a human be that feeling’s and thinking’s are just not all that clear-cut? Some experiences are bitter-sweet. Sometimes you feel like laughing and crying at the same time. Could it be that the flaw in so many of these personality tests is that you have not one inner you but two or more inner you’s? Let’s look at some examples of inner dilemmas.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?
Me? Part of me is an introvert and part of me, my inner-self’s twin is an extrovert. I like being around people. I enjoy teaching and public speak, this is the extroverted me. But the other inner me likes to write, a rather solitary introverted behavior. There are times that I need to be around others and there are times that I need to spend some time alone watching the wind blow through the trees and the birds sing.
Which is the real me? Well, both are me and the longer I live I have come to believe that it is not in discovering the one and only one inner-me. Mentally healthy living is about embracing the various aspect of my own inner worlds.
Are you a Thinking or Feeling person?
The rational thinking part of you worries about why you are not happier. The feeling part of you wonders what you need to do to be less anxious. Occasionally I start to wonder just what I think about the way I am feeling. How do I feel about what I am thinking? Do you ever do that? Do your inner children sometimes all start acting up at once?
Life, for me anyway, turns out to be a whole lot more complicated than just figuring out what my inner-child thinks, feels or wants. Sometimes I have a family full of inner children all competing for my attention and wanting their needs met. Is it just me? Or do others of you out there sometimes think your inner child must be a twin or, heaven forbid, a set if quintuplets?
Can you see how you might have competing conflicted inner you needs and those needs are all real and all part of you? Sometimes the way to work with your inner child is to become an inner adult, love all the parts of you. Sometimes you will need to mediate between all your parts and sometimes you will need to decide which part gets its needs met just now and which part will have to wait a while.
How about yours? Is your inner-child an only child or are there other members of your inner family?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books