Guest Expert: Sue Bryan of Inward Journey. Sue is a ICEA certified educator, studied with Magda Gerber and was the first Quality Parenting Instructor certified by Dr. Ilene Val-Essen. She is currently in private practice as a Personal Transformation Coach.
Listen to my interview with Sue on Heart-Centered Life BlogTalkRadio show.
So often we treat ourselves without compassion, without reverence for our process. We berate ourselves for not being perfect. We hold ourselves to standards far higher (or lower) than any we would hold for others. We allow ourselves to ‘get away with’ behavior that is not in our best interest. We judge and punish and sabotage ourselves. In short, we re-enact all the most horrible forms of punitive (or neglectful) parenting inside our own minds.
No child can grow into a healthy, high functioning adult under such conditions. So these inner child aspects continue to act out, trying to get their needs met, their voices heard – just as real flesh and blood children are prone to do under such conditions.
When inner child aspects act out we see ourselves doing things we know we don’t want to do, like eating a pint of ice cream in front of the TV or losing our temper with family members – all out of proportion to the circumstances.
Whenever we encounter a part of ourselves that we don’t like, we get to be the parent to that part. We can be the passive parent, who just lets the child do whatever it wants. Or we can be the aggressive parent who imposes his or her will on the child and doesn’t give the child any voice or authority. Most people default into one of these two parenting patterns within themselves.
I have found it more useful with both my real children and my inner child aspects to understand that if there is thinking or behavior that I don’t like, there must also be, underlying, a need or set of needs that are trying to be expressed. If I can find the need, and help the child get them met, the behavior will go away of its own accord.
I start with the assumption that all children want to behave well. They want to be cooperative, kind, respectful and respected. And that all behavior to the contrary is a request for help, an expression of an unmet need. I can then approach the child or the part of my own consciousness with compassion and curiosity.
I have seen time and time again that when a person is able to approach the diverse wounded parts of themselves with this compassion and curiosity magic occurs. Wounds heal. Self-defeating habits evaporate. Relationships – and even sometimes physical health – improves.
It’s all about accessing the compassion we automatically feel for children who are suffering and applying it to ourselves. Re-parenting is the art of healing the inner wounds that are a natural part of growing up human so that we can liberate our energy to lead a more expansive life.
Thanks Sue for such a wonderful article about Re-Parenting!