There are conflicting parts within us: sensible “adult” and innocent “child.”
A sensible adult inside us tends to be preoccupied with what other people think of us and be concerned with socio-cultural values. Our adult self suppresses inner child within us.
On the other hand, an innocent child inside us is honest with our feelings. Our inner child are like a three-year-old toddler who is spontaneous and authentic.
For example, when someone slaps us, we feel pain. But the adult part of us will go “You must suck it up!” “You are not hurting!” It will suppress, criticise and ignore the inner child who is hurting.
As a result, our inner child will feel intimidated and anxious. This leads to lack of confidence.
We all experience inner conflicts like this in our daily life. When we have an inner battle, there is incongruence between what we feel and what we allow ourselves to express.
We are conditioned to try to suppress our true and spontaneous feelings. Consequently we push ourselves further away from the very experience that hurts us.
Self-judgement by our adult self creates an inner division. We can accept good parts of us who are capable and strong, but we despise bad parts of us who are incapable and weak.
This inner discrimination really hurts us.
In reality when a child’s spontaneous reactions are met with abuse, mis-attunement or lack of responsiveness, they begin to experience their spontaneous self-expression as “bad.” They begin to believe that they are treated badly because they are unworthy.
Parental response impacts on the development of self-trust in the child.
On the other hand, a parent’s empathic response to a child’s feelings will nurture a sense of trust and security.
Similarly, when we suppress our emotional truths, we will feel insecure and anxious.
Through building a nurturing relationship with our inner child, we can nurture a sense of trust and security.
How can we do this?
When we feel vulnerable, we recognise and accept our feelings that spontaneously arise without judgement.
This means that we don’t try to control or get rid of uncomfortable feelings. Instead, we invite our feelings to be here as they are.
All our emotional truths deserve our loving attention.
Rilke says “What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love.”
Honouring our inner truths, whatever they are, is an act of utmost compassion for ourselves.