Children don’t understand adult psychology. All a child knows is that the love she needs is there, but that it is also sometimes withheld; and she has no explanation as to why, other than it must have been something she did. She was just playing, but to mom she was too loud. She didn’t mind that her toys were all over the floor, but dad did. And so it goes. . .
Unable to resolve what is happening, and powerless to do anything about it, the child does the only thing she can. She turns the situation in on herself. She blames herself for the failure in the situation. In effect she says, “Mom is withholding her love. She says that she loves me, so logically there must be something wrong with me.” And then the bottom falls out. And that’s the problem with logic.
Your erroneous conclusion starts a destructive downward spiral that feeds into your already fragile sense of self confidence. It leads to the creation of a set of beliefs about yourself – all of which are untrue! “I can be hurt, other people will judge me, I am not lovable.” You carry those beliefs today.
Unable to find resolution, you probably sold out to social pressure and learned the art of “social theater.” You turned into a pleaser (or rebel) to get at least a semblance of what you needed. In the process you disconnected from your own feelings and from reality. You felt angry and hurt at being refused love, but most of that was internalized. It was not emotionally safe to express what you really felt back then and that probably hasn’t changed much since then. So your sense of the world started out skewed.
The upshot of all this is that you came away from your childhood feeling unworthy and perhaps unlovable. While carrying that burden, you have asked to be loved many times in your life and all too frequently have been found wanting and rejected. Your focus is still on getting love from an external source like a parent or their substitute and that is a recipe for feeling shortchanged.
Welcome to the domain of your wounded inner child, for this is where your fears reside. So let’s take a look at how this all works. One thing that trips most people up is that they feel that they are in control of their lives. You may think so too, but when it comes to emotionally charged situations, that’s her territory, and she rules it completely! She has all your power!
She sees herself as powerless and damaged, struggling to survive in a scary world of more powerful adults. The fear you feel is her trying to separate herself from a world that has been threatening, sometimes even downright cruel.
Your view of the situation by the way, does not matter much. She lives in a time when she was helpless and powerless. As long as she holds those beliefs, she is going to act on them – she really has no choice. She must do this without the benefit of your love and protection. Because, after all, where have you been all this time?
She has built a protective shell around herself. That shell has become your most vital survival resource and it persists into the present. Asked to give it up and stand without her protection in the truth of the God Space, her response (understandably) is going to be, “No way! I got really hurt when I did that before!”
The two of you have probably created an accommodation where you trade on mutual needs and fears. She shuts you down when you go too far, you drag her along when there is something you really want to do. It is a difficult and painful accommodation and it is a terrific drain on your personal energy.
But it does not have to be that way! However, until she begins to heal from the pain and misunderstandings she carries from childhood, she will be reluctant to challenge the assumptions she made back then, because she will still see herself as defective.
Imagine a small dark closet. This is the world your inner child lives in. Years ago, her world was very limited. It consisted of herself, her parents, siblings and possibly grandparents. At that age, the rest of the world just wasn’t that relevant. Although a child’s world should be one of play, fantasy and joy, many children’s worlds are unfortunately filled with pain, disappointment, judgment, criticism, emotional abandonment and rejection. And for some others, life can be pure hell.
It is important to remember that everything that happened in that closet was created by adults. Children simply do not have the power or wherewithal to create these situations. You can be made to feel unlovable, but there is simply no way that is possible.
Have you ever met an unlovable child? Kids can be difficult, but that’s just how they act, it is not who they are! So, although you were profoundly affected by what took place, you had little control over what happened. (This is one of the protections that God has built unto the process.) The bottom line is still that it simply wasn’t your fault! However, like all children, when things went sour, you assumed that it was because you deserved it.
Today, the dark closet of your childhood sits like a fortress inside your adult world. The big world is made up of people who know and care about you. There are also many other people who don’t know you, but if anything, are indifferent to your existence.
Your inner child is not likely to see your life the same way. She is sequestered in her closet, reluctant to show herself because she has been wounded and feels inadequate and afraid. She will assume that your larger world will simply be an extension of her world with its difficulties and problems.
After all, she has ventured out into your world before. She assumed that people in that world would reject and emotionally abandon her, as the people in her small world did. And because she was anxious and afraid, guess what happened. Things did not go well. This is how it works: she feels inadequate. Life gives you a challenge – maybe something in your career or a new person in your life; she gets scared, holds back and things don’t go well.
On top of that, we adults rarely put the real issues on the table, so she is constantly forced to deal with shadows. This adds to her anxiety and replays the painfully manipulative adult behavior she had to deal with as a child. She turns to you and says, “See! It really is unsafe!” So, regardless of what you tell her, she has proof that your world is unsafe as her’s was.
She believes that she is inadequate and unlovable and the last thing she wants to do is to expose her damaged self to scrutiny. In one moment she can cause you to react violently, lash out and fly into a rage, or she can become passive, be dishonest, even con or manipulate in order to “manage” the situation or at least have some control over it. She’s had a great deal of practice at protecting, so she’s pretty good at it! She is not “bad” for doing this. She is simply a scared kid trying to navigate a dangerous world.
So, even though what began as a significant childhood misunderstanding – there never was anything wrong with you – that misinterpretation still forms the foundation of your existence. Your life is built on those beliefs! Letting them go, no matter how destructive and self-defeating they are, represents a psychological death. She has no reason to assume that things on the other side will be any better than they are now. What is “over there” is unknown. In fact from the ego’s point of view, it is probably worse.
After all, if she opened up and found out that her worst fears were confirmed, what would she do? That prospect is almost unimaginable. She would rather find ways to cope as best she can, in spite of her pain and feelings of worthlessness. (This is where the shamanic journey process can really be useful, because it helps a person untangle those deeply held beliefs without being threatened.)
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