No matter what our age, many of us are still seeking our parents’ approval and validation. Mainly, because we were raised within a traditional / authoritative parenting model where we were often felt unheard, unseen and dismissed by our own smarts. Our parents seemed to always know more than us because they were older. They were the almighty; the ones we looked up to. We wanted to be just like them. We were to be respectful, and polite and if we talked back, we got reprimanded – in some way, shape or form. We were told to watch our mouths, respect our elders, and “do as they say, not as they do”. We were made to feel shamed and guilty accepting all the responsibility for our parent’s behaviors and apologize to them for our wrong-doing. We accepted their way as “the” way and slowly through time this is what got programmed into our own minds. We carried this within us unconsciously.
Then, years later as we are evolving and growing more into our being – making sense of the world around us and our place in it – we awaken to all the false tapes that have been playing in our head, yearning to care for our inner child who feels lost and confused. The stories in our head that have been telling us we are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, and not important enough. Ultimately, our inner compass has been misguided and our present day choices (good, bad or indifferent) have become a manifestation for the summation of years past. Albeit through rebellion or disconnection in our personal and professional relationships, contentions and power-struggles with our own children, bad choices / decisions, self-entitlement, need for materialistic things, high expectations of ourselves and others, overachieving, or gossiping, we have been lead down the dark alleys in our mind triggered by fear, ego, insecurity, guilt, perfectionism, confusion and a need to belong and to not disappoint others. Our external behaviors are a representation of what we are feeling inside – feelings of inadequacy to cope with all the emotions that have been suppressed along the way.
We may also find our past conditioning beliefs lurking its head and seeking attention through the way we are interacting with our children because we did not get these needs fulfilled in our childhood. We in turn demand of our children as our parents demanded of us. We exude control over our children where we had lost it growing up. We punish, belittle or shame our children to have superiority. Or on the contrary, we don’t speak up for fear of conflict with our children and how conflict resonates in us from our own upbringing. We over please our children so we will be liked and needed by them. We may even do everything opposite of the way we were raised – with no healthy boundaries – because we lacked proper guidance and self-respect. In the end, we in some way become our parents and our behaviors reflect through our children’s behaviors. This is how patterned conditions and beliefs perpetuate generation after generation.
When we don’t resolve our inner child’s unmet needs, we deprive ourselves from fully evolving into our truest being. Instead to play it safe, we add layers upon layers of protection (known as the egoic shell) to shield our inner child from experiencing any more pain. The truth of the matter is that we are just putting a bandaid over a deep wound that will never heal without proper self-care. We never get to the source of the matter because we have only been treating the symptoms on a surface level.
As we become more consciously aware, we inevitably get scared. We don’t always know where to start asking for help or asking the questions because we have not counted on ourselves for the answers, instead seeking them and validation externally. There are too many layers of depth to dig through and to begin that process of un-layering means we are going to feel pain as it becomes exposed. We often feel alone and “think” we should know how to handle all those feelings inside because we are “adults”, and because our parents, themselves, never showed us their feelings because it would mean they are weak and not in control, neither should we show our vulnerabilities to our children. This would go against the grain of all that we know and have become accustomed too.
That is why the work of Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent and Out of Control, is such a life-changing process (myself included) to how we revolutionize the parenting model for our children and generations to follow. The essence is to raise ourselves first and secondarily our children. That once we shift from the mindset of parent vs. child to parent with child, the level of connection and insight we gain to ourselves and our children is created from our purest form / essence all the while encouraging our children to look within and trust themselves for the answers to life. We can continue to guide them but the difference is we are creating a healthier and cleaner path for them to follow – not one with our emotional garbage that they have to pick up along the way and store in their backpacks.
Here are 5 steps to to freeing our inner child pain:
- ACCEPT THAT OUR PARENTS DID THEIR BEST: At some point, we need to come to the realization that our parents have done their best in raising us. Even if it didn’t meet our expectations, they raised with whatever (or what little) tools, knowledge, support, insight and past conditionings in which they were raised. They have their own stories of fear and because it was considered an omen to talk about their fears, or even emotional pain, they tucked it all inside, put their best foot forward and did all they could to give us a life they knew how. They gave us all they had even if it didn’t measure up to our same needs. We need to see that their pain was projected onto us unconsciously because they didn’t have anyone to soothe their inner child either. But now we know better, so we need to do better – as the beloved late Maya Angelou once said. This leads me into my next step.
- STOP BLAMING OTHERS AND START OWNING OURSELVES: We can point fingers all day long at those who “made” this or that come of our lives. If my mother only told me she loved me more, if my father didn’t work so much and was home for dinner, if my boss recognized me for my efforts, if my husband had more appreciation for all I do … if, if, if …. leads to a lot of emptiness. Our parents are done raising us, they have done their job and they no longer can fulfill our needs. This is sometimes painful to accept but it’s a mere fact of life. So taking ownership for the here and now, taking accountability for our actions and choices, being responsible for the decisions we make in this present moment – this is where we need to begin shifting our thoughts from negative to positive and ultimately to peace and harmony. This is how we tend to our inner child. It now begins with us.
- CHANGE OUR STORY-TELLING: When you find yourself telling your story from a place of lack, this is a red flag alert to pause and think what is your intention of sharing your story from this perspective? Are you seeking other’s to feel sorry for you? Do you want to feel like you are not alone in the matter so if others agree you will feel validated and “normal”? Has your story served you well to gain empathy that it indirectly makes you feel better about yourself for being where you are in your life? Unconsciously, we don’t even realize our own narrative because it has become immune to our own minds. We are on auto-response and at some point buy into our own stories so much that we have detached from our inner truth. The opportunity for self-growth awaits us every moment of every day, if we remain open to embracing it and steering away from our story that has been holding us back. Look for new signs, new ways that The Universe is calling you to write a new story and be the director of it, not the actor.
- ALLOW OUR INNER CHILD TO WEEP: Give it a good, long, deep cry. Mourn the loss of what you needed but never got. Feel the pain and hurt and honor all of it for your inner child. Let it scream, kick, tantrum and release all its toxins. Throw yourself a huge one-day pity party and ask all the “why”, “how come” questions you need so your inner child is finally heard, seen, felt and noticed. Then create the due space, compassion, empathy and approval letting your inner child know it matters and doesn’t have to harbor the pain any longer. This will lead you to …
- SET OURSELVES FREE: The most important part of your self-evolving journey into consciousness (both as a “child” to your parent and as a parent to your child) is to set yourself free. As you shed the layers of shame, guilt, inadequacies, perfectionism, control and lack of worthiness, it will feel uncomfortable. Your ego is going to do its best to pull you back in and convince you to stay right where you are most comfortable. You must push through it step by step, emotion by emotion, feeling by feeling. As you clean your inner terrain, you will begin making space for the new to surface – new thoughts and beliefs. Your authentic being will being to rise to the top and thank you for it – as will your children and the world.