Wednesday , February 21 2024
...the only "inner child" that's involved with this is one who I want to be rid of, or at least teach how to be like me.

Forgetting Your Inner Child

If there's one phrase guaranteed to set my teeth on edge it's "get in touch with your inner child." Maybe it's because I've heard it come out of the mouths of so many people who have no idea what they are talking about, or who say it as if it's the be all and end all to curing what's wrong with you.

You're unhappy with your sex life – get in touch with your inner child; you hate your job – get in touch with your inner child; or you think your shrink is full of shit because he keeps telling you to get in touch with your inner child – get in touch with your inner child. If I had a dime for every book by every New Age quack that I've seen that talked about getting in touch with your inner child, I'd have a lot more money than I have now.

What's especially galling is how few of these self-styled "healers" ever even tell you what they mean by that. It's as if saying the magic phrase is enough and if you're too stupid to know what they mean by that, well then, you obviously need to get in touch with your inner child. From what I have been able to understand, what they mean by it is this: if only you could go back to the carefree days of your childhood, where you were free to play and exercise your imagination, you'd be able to rid yourself of the stresses that plague your adult life.

Return to those days before you were crippled with the burdens of responsibility brought on by adulthood and having to deal with the real world. Return to the fun of the playground where you spent the days on swings or in the sandbox playing with your friends. Ah yes, those were the days when you were terrorised by the bullies, terrified that you'd commit some social faux pas that would see you ostracized by the rest of your classmates, and where any originality of expression or thought was punished ruthlessly as being fucking weird.

Thankfully, people have cottoned on that perhaps things weren't so hot shit back then and have begun to realize that childhood wasn't the nirvana that some people seem to think it was. To that end, quite a few therapists and psychiatrists have started coming up with methods to try and help people overcome the traumas that they experienced as children — the theory being that as childhood was a key part in your development as a human being you've retained patterns of behaviour established based on conditions that you were living through at the time.

If you spent most of your childhood constantly being afraid that you would be rejected out of hand for no discernible reason, it stands to figure there is a good chance you still carry the same fears around with you. For the person who suffered any type of abuse, sexual, physical, or mental/emotional, the chances of there being a carry-over in behaviour from childhood are even greater, especially if the abuser was a parent or other trusted figure.

The basis for most methodologies is something called behaviour modification, which pretty much means what it says. In the beginning therapists used to to attempt to modify the behaviour that a person was exhibiting, but that didn't do anything about addressing the core issue of what caused the problem. What was needed was a means of traveling back in time to deal with the trauma that caused the behaviour in the first place.

One of the things they discovered is that a person's emotional or mental development was actually stuck in the moment the trauma occurred. Instead of being able to grow up believing they deserved to be loved, for example, they developed a corresponding negative belief that has stuck with them to adulthood.

That belief fostered patterns of behaviour that became ingrained as part of the patient's personality and the only way to truly modify that behaviour would be to return to the time period where the belief was fostered and offer evidence that it's not true. I know it sounds sort of weird; traveling back in time to change your own future by changing your past sounds like a cheap movie with Michael J. Fox, but try not to think of it like that.

Shirley Jean Schmidt, developer of the Development Needs Meeting Strategy, postulates that the neurons of our brain fire together to form neuron networks. States of mind, which can consist of emotions, body sensations, beliefs, and behaviours, can become ingrained in a neural network when a positive or negative experience is repeated, or when the mind cannot make sense of a traumatic experience.

An ingrained state of mind is a part of self with a point of view, or an opinion of who or what we are. A part of self formed by a positive event lives in the present, while ones formed by negative events are stuck in the moment of the experience. The negative parts of self residing in the past are the root source of the behaviour problems that the adult patient is experiencing. In order to excise them they have to be cut out at the root.

Jean Schmidt's solution is to have the adult self draw upon what she calls resources to meet the needs their memory believes were never met as a child. To this end they utilize experiences of themselves being protective towards another person, being nurturing for another person, and remembering a moment that made them feel particularly connected to the world around them, what she refers to as a spiritual core self.

It then becomes a process of convincing those "stuck" parts using those resources, or positive images of yourself, that the conditions that caused them to be stuck in the first place no longer exist, and they can let go of negative beliefs they have about their worth. The theory states that if you can convince your inner deprived child that his or her needs are now being met, you will be able to deal with the feelings of rejection or abandonment that have been stashed in your memory banks for years and years thus eliminating the need for the behaviour that causes you problems today.

I have long ago learned what the human memory is capable of doing, and what unresolved data stored in it can do to you. Chronic pain comes about because the memory overloads and won't forget the pain no matter what you do, and that any little thing can trigger a memory no matter how seemingly unrelated one to the other might appear. So if this procedure is able to clear up any of the loose ends of thought that continue to hinder me, then I'm all for it.

Thankfully the only "inner child" that's involved with this is one who I want to be rid of, or at least teach how to be like me. That seems to make a lot more sense than living my life according to what he can teach me.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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