In my first ever blog I wrote about the inner child ruling the roost and how in the framework of the popular therapy, Transactional Analysis we can be taken over by an inner child part or inner parent part in the bat of an eye!
So having overcome my fear of the dentist some years ago. I was rather surprised to find myself wanting to burst into tears at a recent dental appointment. In my defence I had just had five very deep injections in the top and bottom of my mouth. Although it didn’t hurt at all (Martin is a very gentle dentist, details here) even more surprising, was the feeling that my tummy, arms and legs had turned to jelly and I shook from head to toe!
As I was lead out to the waiting room and ‘put on hold to numb up’ I keenly eyed the door weighing up whether or not I could make a run for it and not look back! No chance with legs like blancmange!
Hmmm I realised, this was not the thinking of an adult, more the thinking of a small child! Did you notice I used the child like-word, tummy and not the more adult adjective of stomach? This type of language also identifies a regression.
With this recognition, a slither of light shone itself on my dental despair and I began to realise that my adult self had been temporarily overshadowed by my shadow!
Early psychologists, Freud and Carl Jung had many a discussion about the persona, the ‘bright’ side, the aspect that we prefer to show to the world and also our shadow side, the darker, hidden aspect of the personality that houses among other things, our fears, repressed desires and more negative thoughts.
I’m fortunate enough to spend my days witnessing the ‘enlightenment’ of others as they get to know themselves, warts and all. Through the process of self-examination, questioning analysing and sitting with their truth, people begin to make their dark light and it is illuminating. As a result of this process we can become autonomous more comfortable with who and how we are and to feel more able to dance to our own tune.
With this thought, I sat down in the waiting room and rested a comforting hand on my stomach to soothe my nerves and silently reminded myself of my age – No, I’m not telling you! That started to ‘ground’ me and I silently continued to list all the adult things in my life such as my relationship, that I have a nice home, I drive a car, teach yoga and run a successful psychotherapy and coaching practice… and hey presto with that, I grew up again!
I’m never going love going to the dentist but I feel more positive about my next appointment and will approach it in a more conscious, adult manner and leave my inner child playing happily at home somewhere!
Get to know what makes you tick and try the following stresshack, as Freud said, Know Thyself , it’s the royal road to discovery.
In your journal write the heading The Child:– and leave 3 or 4 pages free (you’ll be adding to this over time).
Now write a few examples of when you’re prone to feeling child-like.
What thought patterns do you have when you regress into child?
Aim to identify the triggers such as…’When I’m questioned at work, about a piece of work that isn’t finished, I start to feel vulnerable and small.’ Or, when I go back home and sit in the same chair that I sat in as a child I seem to regress or when dad speaks to me in that tone, I feel inadequate… You get the idea.
In order to step out of ‘child’ and back into empowered ‘ adult’ it’s important to know who that part of us is.
So now write the heading The Adult:– and leave several pages free to write up who you are when you feel grown-up, how you act when you feel that you’re in ‘adult’ mode.
Your list could be something really simple such as:
- The adult wears strong colours.
- I walk tall and breathe deeply when I feel adult.
- The adult feels powerful when wearing a suit.
- The adult exercises regularly.
It’s much easier to change your emotional and psychological state if you have a plan and know where to go. You need to ‘know’ that adult part of you in more depth in order to step into that you. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing into a more ‘grown up’ outfit (is it time to get rid of your onesie?) doing some exercise, or reminding yourself of some of some of your achievements, that will help you make the shift from one state to another.
Enjoy and let me know how you get on.