Do you avoid doing jobs because the thought of it stresses you out? Do you give up on your health regime after that first glass of wine? Are you late for things simply because you didn’t leave on time? Chances are you’re letting your inner child take control of your life… I know, I know, you start out with really good intentions at the begining of the week. You’re going to eat sensible, healthy foods. And yet by Tuesday you’re on your second take-away.
Have you ever considered that your inner child has taken over and is running the show!
What Happens When You Let Your Inner Child Rule
That inner whining often goes something like this: “it’s not fair, I’m tired, I don’t want to work, I can’t be bothered to go shopping, I need a treat now, I deserve it!” And giving in to it means that you – the adult – are no longer in charge. Let’s face it if you were, you might be able to have a more grown-up conversation with yourself!
Your inner adult might say something like: “I know you feel like you deserve a treat, but if you do eat those crisps or drink that extra glass of wine, your workout at the gym will feel even harder and ultimately the dress you want to look stunning in next weekend will feel tight and uncomfortable. You’re just hungry let’s get something yummy and healthy to eat right now and if you still want crisps after you can have them!”
When Louisa was younger she used to love people watching with her sister when they were in the car. They would take it in turns to pick out a stranger who they would judge and criticise for something, each trying to out-do the other with insults.
When she was older Louisa felt more and more uncomfortable indulging in what had once felt like harmless fun.
She’d reasoned as a teenager that it didn’t hurt anyone because the strangers couldn’t hear them and it eased their boredom.
Years later however Louisa recognised that the discomfort she felt stemmed, not only from being mean to innocent strangers, but also because of what it told her about herself and her attitudes.
What our judgements say about us
If you can be unkind about a stranger, how mean are you to yourself? Do you spend a lot of time criticising the way your friends and colleagues behave? Then you’re probably harsh and critical about yourself.
Judging others means you’re judging yourself. When we point the finger of blame or judgment at another, you’ll notice three fingers pointing back at yourself. We levy a much heavier burden of judgment on ourselves when we judge others.
In life we tend to attract mirrors of ourselves, in our partners, friends and colleagues.
Look at the things in others that you like or dislike, love or hate, you’ll discover that they are aspects about yourself that you are not owning.
Consider the one thing that you find most abhorrent, something you believe you would NEVER do – be very careful, because you almost certainly house some aspect of that deep within your psyche!
So the next time your inner Judge starts pointing, be kinder to yourself and curl those fingers into a yoga mudra (gesture). Bring your thumb and index finger together and slowly repeat the words ‘I am peace, you are peace, there is peace’
Judging takes up a lot of psychic energy and takes us away from the here and now. Next time you catch yourself judging, distract your mind by singing the lyrics to a favourite tune.
Constant judgements mean that we are not accepting what is, which creates conflict and creates mental turmoil.
Sack the Judge and treat yourself a to a mental holiday. Discover more peace and positivity when you retrain your brain with my positive thinking book and audio.
My most popular blogs seem to be based around the concept that we have three programs running in the back of the mind (the subconscious mind).
That is the parent, adult and child.
Most people can relate to the concept of an inner child and can even identify some of their own childlike behaviour. I have found though that many people struggle to understand their inner parent part.
The Transactional Analysis model of psychotherapy (which I have adapted over the years to suit the way that I work with clients) tells us that these ‘parts’ or programs can take over. This is an insidious process, so it requires a real awareness to notice that it’s happened.
Before we know where we are, we’ve morphed into someone that doesn’t quite feel like us.
So it may help to think of your inner parent part as being a recording of all of the messages you picked up from your parents or significant carers in your early life. You might recognise these messages in the form of commands such as “Go to bed now” “You are not having that” “That’s not how you do it” or “No you can’t”.
Naturally everybody’s internal programs will differ because we all grew up in different households with different parents and rules.
I’m not suggesting either that because many of the parent recordings can sound a bit harsh, that your parents were wicked or unkind. But the job of a parent is to constantly teach, chivvy and control in efforts to educate us. So those parent recordings will often translate as ‘that nagging voice in the back of my mind’.
The parent, child or adult? Where are you coming from?
In the iconic film ‘Arthur’ starring Dudley Moore, there was a fantastic line where the butler played by the inimitable Sir John Gielgud says to his charge “Oh for heavens sake Arthur, grow up.” Dudley Moore who was around 5ft 2in (1.9m) and plays a spoilt, reckless, playboy drunkenly replies, “that’s alright for you to say, you haven’t got 10 pairs of short trousers hanging in your wardrobe!”
Arthur is a man who has never grown up. His childlike lack of responsibility, whilst endearing, doesn’t bode well for his taking over the family business and its fortunes.
Have you ever had a situation where you think you’re having an honest adult conversation with someone – your spouse, partner, friend or colleague – to have them suddenly turn it around on you and play the victim, the martyr or the child?
Or perhaps they become critical and judgemental, playing the dictator, the bully or the disapproving parent? Do you stay grounded and grown up in the face of this or do you get confused and shrink inwardly into child or morph into some critical, judgemental imitation of a grumpy parent?
We can probably all recall situations where we have reacted unreasonably or in a way that we don’t quite understand and can’t shake ourselves out of. Why is that?
In the therapeutic approach of Transactional Analysis, we are encouraged to view the psyche as having 3 main programs, a child part, a parent part and an adult part.
As a guideline, the child part may be identified more easily by ‘feelings’. As an example, strong feelings of being picked on or bullied, feeling little and unable to speak out or stand up for yourself may manifest as fear in the body maybe making it difficult to breathe. The feelings can be paralysing to the extent that we are unable to respond in a confident adult manner.
Again only as a guideline the parent part could be identified by the word ‘should’ you should do this or that. Parents and teachers spend a lifetime telling children how to behave, so the inner parent part can sometimes translate internally as quite stern, critical or judgemental.
The parent part maybe a very demanding part constantly wanting more or better from us. So as a marker when you identify the word ‘should’ in your inner chatter, you may have slipped out of an ‘adult’ who actually has a choice.
In exploring this model you be forgiven for thinking ‘I don’t know if I know who my adult part is!’ The adult part is who you really want to be and who you are when you feel more comfortable with yourself and a little more self-accepting. It’s the you who is comfortable with your truth even if that truth differs from other people’s versions!
So how can we grow up? One way is to learn some assertive skills, read a book, take a course, google it and practise the techniques.
A short cut to assertiveness is to communicate honestly within ourselves first, in order to discover our truth.
Find a quiet moment and ask yourself ‘what do I really want, need or believe in order to totally honour and respect myself first in this situation?” Listen carefully for your answer then when you’ve worked out what you need to do, pick a time to communicate that as openly and honestly to the other people involved. Preface it with the opening lines… “can I be honest with you?” Let’s face it, it’s unlikely anyone will say, Oh no would you lie please!
Other people are not responsible for how you feel and you are not responsible for other people’s feelings – although naturally it is kind to employ tact, diplomacy and consideration for others.
One of my mentors Liz, always says ‘when we do what is right for ourselves, it is usually what is right for the other person in the situation’. Remembering this tip may help us to remain adult when others around us are behaving irrationally.
Anyhow one things for sure, as you get to know your assertive adult self there sure will be plenty of opportunities for you to practise staying in that state.