HEALING THE INNER CHILD
CHAPTER 23 from the book The Psychology of Happiness by Robert Elias Najemy
The work described in this chapter usually requires
guidance by a person experienced in this work.
Our inner child is that part of our subconscious that still feels, thinks and behaves in the ways we learned as children. Our emotional life is largely dictated by the feelings, beliefs and needs generated by our childhood experiences.
We have become split personalities who function with two minds. One is logical while the other still perceives life through the eyes of the children that once we were. While one knows logically that we have no reason to fear or doubt ourselves, the other continues to experience anxiety, fear, guilt and self-doubt. While we know cognitively that we have the ability to deal with life, a part of ourselves continues to be fearful, jealous and angry.
We may not be consciously aware that our inner child feels vulnerable, lonely, fearful, angry or hurt, yet, these emotions are very visible in the form of our fears and defensive reactions. Our hidden emotions are also quite evident in our tensions and psychosomatic illnesses.
On the other hand, our inner child and other aspects of our subconscious are a rich and abundant source of inspiration, joy, creativity and love for life.
We need to establish contact with our inner child and learn to accept and love it as it is, while at the same time educating it concerning the truth of its divine nature. We can then heal our inner child of its traumas and misconceptions while simultaneously recovering from it our innocence, joy and inner connection with life.
Regardless of which techniques we employ in relationship to the inner child, it is essential that we develop a relationship with it by communicating daily. We suggest the following technique.
WITH THE CHILD WITHIN
1. Sit or lie down with the spine straight.
2. Relax the entire body and mind through your preferred relaxation or concentration technique.
3. Imagine the inner child and communicate with it. (It might appear at any age.)
a. Ask it how it feels.
b. Ask if it has some needs it would like to satisfy.
c. Speak to it about your needs as an adult.
4. Give it positive reinforcement. Our child needs to hear about love, security and self-worth.
5. Mentally embrace the child and hold it with tenderness and love.
a. Feel (imagine) the child in your arms.
b. Identify with the small body and feel yourself inside the embrace accepting the love and tenderness offered to you.
c. Become one with the child.
This technique can be performed as a prelude to any meditation, relaxation technique, prayer or positive projection technique, or alone as it is. Once mastered, it takes only five minutes.
DISCOVERING OUR PAST
Our first step will be to discover the events that might have programmed our inner child to be overly sensitive to situations or stimuli, which we now objectively realize, are not worth losing our peace over. In studying the following list of possible childhood experiences, we might find some experiences described exactly as we remember them, while others may remind us of experiences that are somehow different than the ones described. Some memories or associations may take time to come. We may be reminded of something else of which we would like to take note.
LIST OF CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES
Note: After each experience, you will find a list of numbers with the letter “B” referring to the list of possible beliefs, subconscious conclusions of the child, which may have been programmed into our childhood mind because of these experiences. This list can be found on our web site www.HolisticHarmony.com. The numbers here refer to the numbers of the beliefs on that list.
Wherever the questions refer to our parents or other persons of our childhood, we must also think of stepmothers, stepfathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters, cousins, teachers and any other persons who existed in our lives as a child up to the age of 18.
1. Was there someone who became angry with you, scolded you, rejected you or accused you? Who and when? B=(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,13,14,15,16,70,142,143).
2. Were there people in your family who fought among themselves or rejected or hurt one another? Who and when? B=(1,2,3,4,5,6,143).
3. Have you ever experienced the feeling of abandonment? Were you ever left alone? Have you ever felt that others didn’t understand you, or that you would receive no support? When? By whom? How? B= (1,4,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,70,142).
4. Did you ever feel the need for more affection, tenderness or expression of love? From whom and when (during which periods of your life)? B= (1,13,14, 15,16,142).
5. Were there persons in your environment who were often ill or who often spoke of illness? Did they ever blame you for their illness or did you ever feel guilty concerning their illness? Who and when? B= (17,18,19,20,21,22).
6. Did you ever experience the feeling of humiliation in the presence of others or in connection with others? In which cases? B= (1,4,5,8,14,23,24,25,70,143).
7. Were you ever compared to others as to whether you were less or more capable or worthy? To whom, in which instances, and in connection with which abilities or character traits? B= (1,23,24,25,26,70,143).
8. Have you ever lost a loved one? Who and when? B= (7,8,9,10,11,12,14,15,17, 18,21,27,28,2,142).
9. Did anyone ever approach you sexually without your consent? Who, when, and how did you feel? B=(1,30,31,32,33, 34,136,142).
10. Were you ever aware of your parents or anyone else making love? Who and when? How did you feel and what did you think? B= (33,34,35,36,37).
11. Did your parents ever state that you were the only reason they stayed together, and that this had been a big sacrifice on their part? Did they ever tell you they had sacrificed a great deal for your sake, and that you were indebted to them? Who? When? About what matters? What exactly do they believe you owe them? B= (1,6,38,39,40,41,41,42,43,141,143).
12. Did anyone ever accuse you of being the cause of his or her unhappiness, illness or problems? Who accused you and about what exactly? What did they mean by saying that it was your fault? What does this statement mean to you? According to them, what should you have done? B= (38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47, 48,49,50,51,52.53,54,141,143).
13. Did anyone ever say you would never achieve anything in your life, that you are lazy, incompetent, or dumb? Who, when and concerning what matters? B= (55,56,57,58,59,60,141,142,143).
14. Were you ever caught playing with your genitals (alone or with others), and did anyone make you feel guilty about that? Who? When? What was their message? B= (61,62,63).
15. Did anyone speak about guilt and punishment from a person, a parent, the police or God? Who? When? About what types of guilt and what type of punishment? B= (1,62,63,64,65,141,142,143).
16. Did any teacher ever make you feel humiliated in front of other children? When? How? Concerning what? B= (66,67,68,69,142,143).
17. Did you ever feel rejection or inferiority in the company of other children? By whom? Inferior by what criteria? B= (23,24,25,26,70,142,143).
18. Were you ever told you were responsible for the general well being of your siblings or others, and that whatever happened to them was your responsibility? Who did? About whom? Concerning what matters were you responsible? B= (44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53, 54,141,143).
19. Were you ever made to understand in some way (negative or positive) that in order for someone to be acceptable and lovable, one must: B= (141,142,143).
___a. Be better than the others?
___b. Be first at everything?
___c. Be perfect, without faults?
___d. Be intelligent and clever?
___e. Be handsome / beautiful?
___f. Have perfect order and cleanliness at home?
___g. Have great success in his/her love life?
___h. Be financially and socially successful?
___i. Be accepted by everyone?
___j. Be active in many ways? Achieve many things?
___k. Always satisfy the needs of others?
___l. Never say “no” to others?
___m. Never express his/her personal needs?
20. Did anyone ever make you believe in some way that you were incapable of thinking, making decisions, or achieving things by yourself, and that you would always need to depend on others? Who passed on this message to you? About what matters were you supposedly “incapable” of making decisions or handling life properly? B= (91,92,93,94,142,143).
21. Did you ever have role models (parents, older siblings or others) who were, or still are, so dynamic and competent that you felt: B= (95,96,97,98,141,142,143).
a. The need to be like them?
b. The need to prove your worth, to reach or even surpass these models?
c. Despair, self-rejection, abandonment of effort, self-destructive tendencies (possibly subconscious), because you believed you could never measure up to them?
In connection with whom has any of this occurred (a, b or c) and with what criteria of success?
22. Has there ever been in your environment someone with unexpected, unpredictable, nervous or even schizophrenic behavior (possibly alcohol or drug induced) making it difficult for you to anticipate what he or she might do next? Have they engaged in violent behavior (physical or psychological)? By whom, and what was the behavior like? B= (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,12,13,14,15,16,99,100, 101,102,103,104,105,106,107,108,135,142)
23. Have you felt rejection towards or shame concerning one of your parents? For whom and why? B= (109,110,111,112,142,143).
24. Did you ever make the discovery that one of your parents had an extra-marital affair? When and under what circumstances? How did you feel about that?
25. Did anyone often speak to you about a vengeful, punishing God or about the “Devil?” Who did, and in what context? B= (1,62,63,64,65,113,114,135,141,142,143).
26. Did you ever feel that someone told you one thing but did another, that there was no consistency in their words, that they had a double standard – one for themselves and another for others – or that they were hypocritical, false and deceptive? Who and when? Concerning what topics? B= (115,116, 117,118,119,120,121).
27. Upon what was your parents’ security based?
___a) on money?
___b) on the others’ opinions?
___c) on education?
___d) on personal power?
___e) on the unity of the family?
___f) on property?
___g) on one’s spouse?
___h) other? _________________________
28. Were you a spoiled child who always got whatever you wanted, and to whom no one ever refused a favor? B= (131,132,142).
29. Did anyone suppress your freedom of movement and expression? Did they force you to do things you did not want to do? (study, visits, dress). Did they forbid you to do things you wanted to do? What were you forced to do or prevented from doing? B= (135,136,137,138,142,143).
30. (FOR WOMEN). Did anyone in some way try to make you believe that since you are a girl:
a. You are worth less than a man?
b. You are not safe without a man?
c. Sex is dirty (a sin)?
d. You must be married in order to be socially accepted?
e. You are less competent than men?
f. Your only mission is to serve others?
g. You must not express your needs, feelings or opinions?
h. You must submit yourself to your husband?
i. You must be attractive to be acceptable?
B= (133 a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o, 141,142.143).
31. (FOR MEN). Did anyone in some way try to make you believe that since you are a boy:
a. You must be strong?
b. You must be superior, more competent, stronger and more intelligent than your wife?
c. Your self worth is measured according to the success of your love life or the number of your sexual conquests?
d. Your worth is measured according to your professional (financial) success?
e. You must compare yourself with other men?
B= (134 a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l, 141,142,143).
ADDITIONAL AIDS FOR THE
SEARCH INTO THE CHILDHOOD YEARS
In addition to this list of childhood experiences, we can also search the past in the following ways:
1. Through childhood regressions: Guided by a well-trained professional, we can re-experience memories of the past.
2. By writing the story of our childhood years, we can strengthen our contact with the details of the past. This can be written in the first person, but even better in the third person, as if we are chronicling the life of some other person. This enables us to be more objective and honest in our observations. We will discover patterns of behavior that we tend to repeat throughout the years. We will find the experiences that have marked our subconscious, creating our emotional mechanisms.
This life story need not be detailed in chronological order. Each day, we can add whatever we remember in any order.
The first comment made by many people is, “ I don’t remember anything before the age of ten. How will I do this?” This is no problem. As we start to write, the subconscious will be awakened and memories will start flowing forth. The more we write, the more the memories will be activated.
Placing old photographs before us as we write will help, as will asking parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and older brothers and sisters what they can remember. We are not obligated to accept their interpretation of the past, but their words may trigger other memories.
Best results will be obtained if we dedicate at least twenty minutes daily to this process for at least three months.
The basic guidelines for writing the story of our childhood years are:
a. Add whatever additional memories you remember each day.
b. It need not to be in chronological order.
c. We can write in the third or first person.
d. Ask others (parents, uncles, aunts, siblings, grandparents) what they remember.
e. Look at old pictures.
3. A questionnaire for getting acquainted with the inner child
Answering these questions will assist our investigation into the messages we might have received in our childhood years. Complete the following sentences with at least three answers for each if possible. Also, try to remember exactly what happened which caused you to come to those assumptions.
a. As a child, I heard that my most significant faults were…..
b. As a child, I felt guilty about/for….
c. Some messages I received about God were…
d. Some messages I received about sex were…
e. Some messages I received about money were…
f. I felt rejection when…
g. I felt fear when…
h. I felt shame or inferiority when…
i. I felt abandonment when
4. A deeper questionnaire concerning our beliefs
The following questionnaire will give us supplementary information concerning the programmings we developed in those early years. Please answer as honestly as you can, allowing enough time to establish contact with the various parts of your personality. Do not be surprised by needs, desires, beliefs and feelings that seem to conflict or be contradictory. This is quite common and natural for a person in the process of evolution who is passing through changes in his values, beliefs and needs.
Give three or more answers to each question.
A. The basis for our feelings of security.
1. The three positive human characteristics which I value most are …
2. The three negative human characteristics that I find most unacceptable are…
3. I love and accept myself more when ….
4. I feel guilty when …
5. I have negative feelings when…
6. I feel happy when …
7. I feel insecure when…
8. I feel secure when…
9. I do not believe I can ….
10. If my house were on fire and I could save only three objects (excluding people or animals), they would be…..
11. My three strongest fears are….
B. How I perceive others and how I believe they perceive me.
12. How I believe my spouse or love partner perceives me. (Or previous spouse or love partner. Or all spouses and love partners we have had until now.)
13. Three of my spouse’s (love partner’s) positive traits are …
14. Three of my spouse’s (love partner’s) negative traits are…
15. How I believe my parents perceive me….
16. My parents always told me that I was unable to …
17. The criticism I heard most often from my parents was…
18. Three of my father’s positive qualities were/are…
19. Three of my father’s negative qualities were/are…
20. Three of my mother’s positive qualities were/are…
21. Three of my mother’s negative qualities were/are…
22. This is how I remember my parents’ relationship until I was 21 years old.
23. I find it difficult to forgive others for…
C. How I see myself.
24. I feel weak and vulnerable when …
25. The criticism I hear most often from those around me is…
26. Three of my positive character traits are…
27. Three of my weaknesses or faults are …
28. I find it difficult to forgive myself for…
29. I feel unable to …
30. I wish I could …
31. I imagine God to be…
33. I feel God in my life when …. and in this way …
34. My life purpose is ….
35. Now imagine that you are writing to a very good friend whom you have not seen since grammar school, and you want to describe yourself to him. How would you do it?
Having discovered various experiences, which in the past were painful for us or have programmed us in negative ways, we can go on to analyze each experience separately with the help of the following questionnaire.
ANALYSIS OF UNPLEASANT CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES
a. Describe an experience or general situation which was unpleasant, that made you feel fear, sorrow, guilt, rejection, danger, injustice, jealousy or any other unpleasant emotion.
b. What were the exact emotions you felt as a child?
c. What thoughts did you have, or what conclusions did you reach as a child because of this experience or situation?
d. In what way did you react then as a child?
e. What effect did this experience have upon you later in life, or even today?
f. If you could have been absolutely open and honest at that time, what would you have said to your parents, teachers, God or to others who played a part (or who were with you) in this event or in this situation concerning:
1. What you felt?
2. Your needs and desires?
3. What you wanted them to do or not do?
(Write the answers in the second person, as if you were speaking directly to them or writing them a letter).
When you finish with one experience or situation, go on to another and another, answering the same questions.
EXPRESSING THE EMOTIONS OF OUR CHILDHOOD YEARS
Once we have established contact with some of the unexpressed emotions, needs and beliefs of our childhood years, the next stage is to express and release them without, of course, hurting others. Some ways in which we can do this are listed here.
1. Write letters to the people who played an important role in the unpleasant and pleasant experiences of your childhood (parents, teachers, uncles, aunts, siblings, grandparents, others). We will not necessarily send these letters. We simply need to write them, in order to recognize and express what is hidden within us.
a. Communicate totally, openly and honestly.
b. Add new thoughts and feelings each day.
c. Do not concern yourself with chronological order.
d. Express how you felt at that young age (not how you see it or explain it now).
e. Release and express your negative and positive feelings.
f. Express the needs, feelings, desires and thoughts you had at that time.
We will also want to express our positive feelings, love and gratitude.
2. Read these letters to someone who is experienced in active listening and psychodrama.
a. If you find that reading these letters causes strong feelings, take time to express and release those feelings before you continue reading. You may then need to switch to an emotional release technique. Do not keep these emotions locked inside you.
b. You may need to read these letters additional times until the emotional charge is released. You can read it as many times as necessary until you are able to read it without feeling upset about the letter’s content.
3. Below is a more detailed questionnaire that will help with the clarification and expression of exactly what we felt, needed and believed as children. It is best if we write with the opposite hand than the one with which we usually write. In this way, we can more easily connect with the weakness, difficulty and vulnerability we experienced in those childhood years. It also stimulates the opposite side of the brain, bringing more memories to the surface.
Questions which aid in expressing our feelings as children
We imagine that one of the persons who played an important role in our childhood experiences is asking us these questions. We answer the questions separately for each person with whom we want to communicate.
It does not matter if the soul we are writing to has left his or her physical body. It does not matter whether the other can fully understand what we are writing. We are not writing this to give it to anyone (although, if we feel that it will help the other, we are free to do so). We are writing this in order to discover, understand and express ourselves more deeply.
We have everything to gain by being as honest as possible by answering from our inner child. If there are matters about which our inner child feels differently from our adult, we can express both sides if we choose, but it is best to place emphasis on the inner child’s opportunity to express it self.
These are the questions we are being asked by this person:
a. Tell me, when you were a child, did I do anything which upset you, hurt you or made you feel fear, rejection, guilt, injustice, bitterness, disappointment, guilt, anger or some other negative emotion?
b. Please tell about each occasion, situation or behavior separately. Give me the complete details:
1. What exactly did I do or not do?
2. How did you feel?
3. What did you think then?
4. What conclusions did you draw about yourself?
5. What conclusions did you draw about me?
c. Did you feel that I had high expectations of you, that I wanted you to be something special? Please explain to me exactly what you believed I wanted you to be physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, etc. Perhaps because I praised you for some things, you believed that I accepted and loved you only if you excelled in those areas?
1. How did you feel about that?
2. What did you think then?
3. What conclusions did you draw about your self worth and love in general?
d. What other emotions would you like to express to me?
e. What did you need from me then which I did not give you enough of?
f. What would you have liked me to do then which I did not do?
g. What would you have preferred that I not do which I did?
h. Did you ever feel guilt, shame or self-rejection as a child?
1. At what times and for what reasons? What did you do, say or think?
2. What did you believe which made you feel guilty?
3. Did I, in any way, cause you to feel guilty in those situations? How?
4. Were others also instrumental in causing you to feel guilty? Who, and for what?
5. What would you like to say to me or to the others concerning those situations?
i. What could I do now, to help you feel better?
j. What could you yourself do now in order to feel better?
The above questions help us clarify what we need to express and release. The rest of the questions have to do with the process of transformation, and are best left until we feel we are ready to accept what happened, to forgive the perpetrators, and move on with a clean state. We will present them here but they should be used only when we are ready
Questions which aid in transforming:
k. What thought-forms (conclusions, beliefs) were created in you then due to those experiences?
l. Which of those thought-forms (conclusions, beliefs) have you totally overcome, and which are still alive in you, even to a small degree?
m. What do you think was my inner state, which caused me to behave the way I did then? (Remember that we are imagining that the person who may have hurt us with his behavior is asking us these questions.)
n. What do you think were the motives, needs, feelings, and beliefs that caused me to behave the way I did then?
o. If the spiritual truth that “life gives us exactly what we need as souls in evolution in order to evolve and develop spiritual virtues,” is actually true, what could be the lessons or the virtues which you are being asked to work on here?
p. What do you need to learn here in order to be happy?
q. Which beliefs do you need to change here in order to free yourself from the false beliefs of the past?
r. What do you need to do or believe in order to forgive me and free yourself from my presence in your subconscious?
s. What do you need to do or believe in order to forgive yourself and enjoy your purity and goodness?
t. What changes do you want to make in your lifestyle in order to find harmony and strength? How and when will you make these changes?
POSITIVE MESSAGES FOR OUR INNER CHILD
The following is a list of possible messages for our inner child, which can be strengthened internally by:
a. Writing them in a letter to the inner child
b. Introducing them to the inner child while in the transformation regression.
c. Replaying them our daily communication with the inner child.
d. Making a relaxation cassette with these messages.
1. I accept and love you exactly as you are.
2. I appreciate you and respect you.
3. I feel affection and tenderness for you.
4. You are free to do what you like provided you are not hurting anybody.
5. You are capable and strong.
6. There is an infinite spiritual power within you that protects you from illness, traumas and dangers.
7. Your body is healthy, strong and resistant to illness.
8. You live in divine justice which brings to you only what is useful for your development.
9. You selected your parents and the events of your childhood, and thus you created the perfect conditions for your development.
10. There is a Divine Power that guides you from within.
11. There is within you a knowing and wise voice that always leads you correctly in your life. Follow it.
12. You have the right and the responsibility to express your inner strength and beauty creatively.
13. You deserve love and respect from everyone, regardless of your appearance, social position, profession, knowledge, achievements, or what others think of you.
14. Your self worth is the same as that of every other soul, no more and no less.
15. No one else can create or be responsible for your happiness, health or success.
16. You cannot create or assume responsibility for the happiness, health or success of others.
17. You are an eternal, divine consciousness in the process of developing the ability to express the beauty that exists within you.
18. Everything is God. There is no one or thing that is not the expression of the one universal consciousness (God). You are no exception.
19. It is not necessary to live your life according to the convictions or expectations of your parents or anyone else. Love, respect and help them, but live according to your own principles, needs and convictions.
20. Your “parents” are eternal souls in a process of evolution whom you selected to play these roles in this incarnation. Your only real parent is God.
21. You have the same worth, wisdom, strength, and rights as the eternal souls who played the role of your parents.
22. Whatever anyone did to harm you was out of ignorance or fear.
23. Your parents were once children who were programmed by their parents.
Having healed the inner child through these truths, we are now ready to begin the process of forgiveness, which is our liberation from the past. If upon working with your childhood years you realize that you need to forgive others or yourself, refer to the chapter on forgiveness in the book Relationships of Conscious Love by the same author. (This chapter can also be found on our web site)