Have you ever wondered why certain people can make you feel vulnerable, little and powerless? Why some triggers bring up the same insecurities and anxieties that you frequently felt when you were much younger? You want to disappear when you’re about to give a presentation, convinced that everyone will notice that you’re an inadequate impostor.
When your friends are busy and don’t have time to meet, you feel rejected, unloved and afraid of being abandoned. Or facing a deadline at work, you rather distract yourself and procrastinate than focus on completing your project.
These childlike reactions make only sense, when you realize that they’re driven by a part of your subconscious mind that is still stuck in the past.
Generally speaking you can assume that you are dealing with an “unruly” inner child, if you frequently think, feel and act in immature and self-limiting ways that rationally don’t make any sense. And if, you don’t seem to be able to stop or change these self-defeating behaviors, even though you are aware they don’t serve you.
Here are some examples of the most common inner child-driven patterns:
- You feel small, nervous and tongue-tied when you are dealing with authority figures.
- You want to hide out or lash out in response to being judged or criticized.
- You avoid pressure, challenges and expectations, because they make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
- You ignore problems and postpone dealing with uncomfortable tasks or changes that need to be made.
- You tend to blame others, the past or the circumstances you are in, rather than taking responsibility to heal the pain they have caused you.
- You don’t take good care of yourself, because somewhere deep-inside you still hope that someone else will does this for you.
- You play the role of the peace-maker or pleaser in order to get approval and acceptance.
- You can throw a full blown temper-tantrum when things don’t go your way.
- You constantly try to prove to the world and yourself that you are good enough. Regardless of how much success you have achieved, you still feel like a fraud or a failure.
If any of these patterns seem familiar to you, take a trip down memory lane and try to remember events during your childhood where you had already felt and acted in similar ways. As you contemplate your past, be kind and compassionate with yourself and assume that you did the best you could at that time, given the circumstances you were in. The truth is, that most of these childhood patterns were driven by one important goal: to protect you from pain and hurtful rejection.
Why is this realization healing in itself? If you embrace the notion that the reason you feel and behave at times in immature ways, is that your inner child still tries to keep you safe with the self-protective strategies of the past, you may no longer want to judge or fight yourself. Instead you can focus on convincing this younger part of you to let go of these patterns and allow you, the competent and self-reliant adult to be in charge.
Learn effective ways to communicate with your inner child, so you can release and outgrow old emotions and behaviors, which no longer serve you.