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Do You Know 8 Ways To Identify Your Parent Part?

If you’re one of those rare people who was never shouted at or nagged by your parents, you are truly blessed! For the rest of us it pretty much goes with the territory of having parents and even being one.

This means there’s a part of your brain that holds all the recordings of things your parents and significant carers said or did to you. Only trouble is today you probably think these negatives are coming from you.

For most of us the ‘parent part’: –

  1. Criticises
  2. Judges
  3. Has expectations.
  4. Makes demands
  5. Shouts
  6. Nags
  7. Say’s “you should”
  8. Seems negative.

Whilst the above list is pretty universal, your individual parent part is specific and personal to you. Have you wondered why, without warning you can suddenly morph into some unrecognisable version of you? And find yourself shouting, nagging or demanding?

Have you ever wonderedwhere you’re coming from’?

If you’re lucky you may have a glimmer of reason from the adult part of you who thinks eh? What happened there, why did I suddenly flip! If you stay in the parent part you’ll just justify your behaviour. But if you dislike feeling like that and would prefer to be calm, rational and ‘adult’ the following exercise will help you to recognise the behaviours of this part sufficiently to avoid them in the future.

be your best self

In your journal write the heading The Parent Part: –

Now scribble down as many messages as you can remember receiving from your parents when you were growing up. We’re only looking for the negatives here because obviously what isn’t broke doesn’t need fixing!

These messages make up your early programming, so if for example your mother tended to be meek and passive but your father had an explosive temper and shouted a lot, your list will look something like this.
Mixed up isn’t it! You can see that it isn’t always easy to understand what makes you tick. However by making an exhaustive list of your parent part messages you start to understand your programming and as a result stand more chance of being able to choose a different way of responding in the future.

So many people feel beaten up psychologically and lack self love and self-confidence. I believe one of the reasons for this, is due to old programming. Naturally unless you’re introduced to this way of working you would have no way of separating out some of the negative messages in the back of your mind. Once you’re able to allocate this thought process and that behaviour to the parent or child part, you’re free to build on the ‘adult’ aspect of you and be the person you feel you’re really meant to be.

If your ‘parent part’ shouts a lot and is also passive and meek as in the example above, what would the opposite of these behaviours be? Reasonable, rational, assertive? So your adult part might start to look like this.IMG_2851 (1)

Remember in an earlier blog I said the Adult is the only place where we can set goals? You may not be being assertive, relaxed, confident and calm just yet but it’s a goal and if you don’t have a goal you can’t get there!

Until next time enjoy working out where you’re coming from!

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Is Your Child Running Riot?

It’s much easier to change your emotional and psychological state if you have a plan and know where to go


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.

It’s much easier to change your emotional and psychological state if you have a plan and know where to go


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.



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Get Ahead Of The Times! Try this amazing technique if you need advice or support

Arnhem Market Sep 20 2013 (51)Last week I asked you to write a letter to your younger teenage self offering guidance and support,  or words of wisdom. Some of you wrote telling me how good it felt to get that encouragement. Thank you for the feedback!

Don’t underestimate the power of engaging with yourself in this way.

I can’t say it often enough that your subconscious mind is not time bound and does not judge.

With that in mind here’s this week’s challenge.

Continue reading Get Ahead Of The Times! Try this amazing technique if you need advice or support

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Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Have you ever been around someone seemingly bright and knowledgeable only to notice them behave badly in a childish manner? Chances are something has stopped them growing up emotionally…

heal your inner child - adults behaving like children - Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Emotional Growth

Collectively we still fail to understand the difference between intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence. While we grow up intellectually and chronologically, we do not always grow up emotionally. We can have gaps in our development for all kinds of reasons, but it’s often due to something that happened in childhood. For example, a child — let’s call him John — has has five blissful years on the planet when his father suddenly dies. His mother, in her grief, plummets into a depression that she never really recovers from.

John is effectively orphaned at that point. With neither parent there to attend to his emotional needs. This trauma and loss will likely effect John’s ability to learn. Unless that’s picked up at school, he could remain in that ‘state’ for the rest of his life. His development stunted, much like a scratch on a record, or a rogue program that keeps replaying. Years later, John is unresponsive and unemotional toward his partner, going through the motions but never fully connecting.

Continue reading Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

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Are You A Space Cadet? Why It’s Time To Wake Up!

Zoning Out - Are You A Space Cadet? Why It's Time To Wake Up! - The Stresshacker Sue Smith

Have you ever missed your train, your stop, your appointment? Do you find time passes and you don’t know where it went? Are you spacing out?

Where and when did you learn to do that?

By the sheer nature of the fact that as children we spend a lot of time being told what to do – and when and how – we have internalised that ‘parent’ part that even today may nag, criticise or even bully us to do certain things.  But it also may be that as a child you were left to your own devices for hours on end with very few boundaries or guidelines. In that case, your parent part might be vacant or spaced out with little input.

To know and understand your parent part you will need to spend some time remembering analysing and recalling your early messages. I explore this in more depth in my book, I Just Want To be Happy.

Zoning out can be a way of coping

Your inner child part is very much determined by your parent part. For example, if you were nagged, told off a lot or – worse – bullied or abused, how did you deal with that? One way that children ‘cope’ is to dissociate, disappear, take off and ‘space out’. I remember doing this as a child in a maths lesson, I was bored and disinterested and spent most of my time in the clouds floating about. Needless to say this in turn got me into more trouble!

So what is spacing out? Clients have often described it as that lovely timeless feeling: you’re there but not there. You have that sensation of drifting in thoughts, like bubbles, smoke, or like feathers or leaves floating away.

But now it’s time to zone back in

Now this is all very nice and perhaps a great way for us to cope as children, but is it useful as an adult? Probably not. When yet another day has passed and you haven’t delivered the goods, met the deadline, painted the bedroom. When you’ve missed the stop for the fourth time this week, or been late to pick the kids up. Well, it’s just not serving you any longer is it.

It’s a bit like an out-of-date program left running on a computer: it’s just taking up unnecessary space that could be used for something better.

So how do you stop spacing out?

Grounding. Grounding. Grounding. Stop taking off and get back into your body. Feel the sensation of your feet in your shoes. If possible be barefooted so you can really “earth”. Instead of getting out of your head, get into your body. You won’t become enlightened if you’re not embodied!

Then start the reprogramming.

The inner dialogue could go something like this, “I am X years old. I can do this!” Be conscious and awake. It will help if you address your inner child directly, giving them some attention by saying something simple like, “I’m just off to a meeting and I don’t need you to come along. Why don’t you stay at home playing and I’ll go off and do the grown up things and see you later.”

It may sound twee (and a bit odd!), but don’t take my word for it – try it yourself. I know it works! You can also address the inner parent by saying to that part, “You know what? Thank you for all the nagging, but STOP IT NOW! I’m X years old and adult and I don’t need your incessant rules. I can do this, so GO AWAY!”

Richard Bandler, originator of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) would say tell that part to “Shut the f*@$ up!”. And it works – that nagging, parental part of you or that childish part of you will quieten down for a while.

We have to expose these parts and make this conscious. You’ll have plenty of time to practise since these parts pipe up time after time.

So, the next time you don’t want to miss your connection on the train, or you need to leave on time, get yourself grounded and make sure your inner Adult is in charge.

Please let me know how any of these activities help you. Comment below.

Also please look at our products and courses in The Stresshacker store to help assist you with your journey.