When you’re in big “Heartbreak Land”, it’s difficult to be an adult. Your emotions take over and all you can think of is the pain and grief that you have to now endure. It’s at this very moment that you can decide how your grieving process will go by taking control of your emotional self, aka your Inner Child. How to parent your Inner Child during your breakup is the key to effectively communicating your needs in a relationship and for your heartbreak recovery.
Your Wounding Story
The Agony and the Ecstasy of living in these bodies is that we get to feel EVERYTHING. All the pain and shame and all the joy and pleasure are ours to pick whenever we want. And I do mean whenever we want.
Whether consciously or not, we can be the adult, the child, the mother, the father, the warrior etc. Just like an actor gets to embody different personalities, so do we.
But when we are placed in a scene of the heartbroken lover, we also get to experience our inherited trauma and the wounding story. The wounding story is the story we made up when things weren’t explained to us. This is our story of unworthiness, abandonment, shame, loneliness or fear, that we carry with us into every relationship.
When we are heartbroken, we naturally make it mean something more than what it is. This is why we can’t let go when we know we should. And this is also where we decide to let our Inner Child take over.
Your PSYCHE, your CHOICE
We all have many dimensions to our personality. And the “Inner Child” has been explored by psychologists and psychoanalysts throughout our modern age. From Carl Jung’s “Divine Child” to Charles Whitefield’s “Healing the Child Within”
The Inner Child persona is part of a complex family system of our personality.
Carl Jung calls the personality the psyche and theorizes it has three components: the ego (the conscious mind), the personal unconscious (personal knowledge that is not currently conscious, but could be), and the collective unconscious (that which we are born knowing or the “psychic inheritance”). The universal archetypes, such as the Mother, Father, Anima and Animus, Hero, Maiden, Warrior, and so on, are in the collective unconscious. We have all of these within ourselves. And the child and adolescent are part of these archetypes.
The Inner Child and adolescent can be seen as representing our needs during those times in our life. The child knows nothing but self and is completely self-centered but will take guidance from the adult. And the adolescent who is aware of other’s needs but sees their needs as more important than others. If you have children you’ll understand these classifications.
We all have the “Inner Child” within us, including the adolescent. And when as adults we feel threated or in danger (a heartbreak) we can revert back to time in our childhood when we were emotionally wounded. With this reference, we can also exhibit the behaviours of the wounded child.
The problem arises when our childhood trauma stunts our emotional and spiritual growth and affects our relationships. And how we decide to parent our Inner Child during a break up makes all the difference to the overall outcome in all of your relationships.
When the wounded Inner Child takes over
According to John Bradshaw in his book Home Coming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, our wounded inner child is responsible for these issues in our adult life:
– Offender Behaviours
– Trust Issues
– Acting out/Acting In Behaviours
– Magical Beliefs
– Intimacy Dysfunctions
– Thought Distortions
When we have parents who have not healed their inner child they treated us in unloving, neglectful ways. And since society certainly doesn’t teach us how to grow up, then we are destined to repeat these immature behaviours.
Instead of behaving in a grown-up way when we are wounded by our lover, and reflect, take responsibility and apologize and work towards being better, we end up lashing out like a child or become vindictive or manipulative like our adolescent.
How do we heal our Inner Child?
Our choice is clear when we are dealing with a wounded Inner Child who has taken over our relationships.
First, we have to recognize what is immature destructive behaviour. Being childlike and wanting to have fun isn’t destructive, but lashing out uncharacteristically when we feel insulted can be.
Pay attention to your response when you are in an argument. Are you calm and composed and are you able to have an adult discussion about it? Or do you suddenly feel like you have to protect yourself by wounding and delivering childlike insults?
If it’s the latter, then you have let your Inner Child take over when your adult should have stepped in. With practice, you’ll be able to recognize when your wounded Inner Child is starting to emerge.
Then, you can have a discussion with her.
Console her. Let her know that she is safe and that your adult is now taking over to make things right again.
Add another layer and ask your Inner Child what she needs to feel safe. Give yourself permission to self-sooth… that could mean going to get some ice cream or watch your favourite movie or simply to stay home and rest in bed.
Whatever your Inner Child needs is what you most likely didn’t get from your parents when you were actually a child. The good news is that you’re now an adult and can give these things to yourself.
Instead of shaming and disciplining your Inner Child, it’s time to start listening to her and giving her the love and attention that she needs and didn’t get.
It’s in this very moment that you can decide how you recover from heartbreak. When you learn how you parent your Inner Child during your breakup, you will be able to effectively communicate your needs in a relationship. And you will be able to handle all other disappointments in life with grace and ease.