Most people, especially those of us who tend to escape or self-soothe with drinking or other maladaptive coping habits, still struggle with childhood experiences that harmed us, even if we’re unable to recognize them.
We are easily triggered when faced with challenges, people or situations that remind us of that the way we felt back then. Sometimes, the reminder is subtle, and our spidey-senses tingle, putting us on alert and hyper-reactive to what’s going on around us. Other times, we default to anger when we feel hurt or scared because we can’t handle these emotions and then lash out and become antagonistic, or withdraw and shut down.
Our extreme reactions are rooted in that fear we experienced in the past; fear that we are unloved, unworthy, unsafe or abandoned.
Recognizing that it is our inner-child that actually feels these wounds is an ongoing process, but it is possible to temper, and even stop, those heightened reactions. Learning to observe, acknowledge and understand what feeds our reactions gives us an opportunity to grow, and helps us to change our behaviour.
I’ve been working on that a lot lately, showing up for Little Me.
When I have snap reactions to other people or situations, most of the time they are connected to something I didn’t receive as a child. So I take a moment, figure out if I am feeling unheard, unappreciated, or afraid. I acknowledge the unmet need, and tell myself: You are safe, you are loved, and you can work this out. It’s okay to find another way to communicate, and it’s okay to leave it for now. Sometimes, the other person is also reacting to their own unmet childhood needs.
We have the power to truly transform things, and we can choose each day, to heal and do better.
There is also something else that has been working for me. We often underestimate the power of play, but I’ve found it to be so helpful. Especially when I feel myself retreating into a little cocoon.
Here are some ways I engage with or provide opportunities for Little Phoenix to thrive:
*Paint or sketch, without intention or monetary goal in mind.
*Watch movies or tv shows that I know make feel happy (strangely enough, they all tend to be fantasy, magical realism or Pixar movies.) I’m happy to share my movie or music playlist. Comment below if you would like me to.
*Listen to music or songs from my Sunshine playlist.
*Go outside and spend time amongst the trees and flowers, watching the sky, and birds and butterflies going about their day. The idea is to activate your sense of wonder and awe at all the life around you.
*If all else fails, I find a baby photo of myself. I smile at Little Phoenix and tell her that the world is just as big and beautiful as she thought it would be, and even if life gets rough sometimes (as it will) she will be okay. I tell her that I can remember her voice and that she wanted to tell stories. I tell her that yes, she did grow up to be brave, strong and amazing, and the stories are making their way into the world.
Never give up on Little You. Show up because you deserve it.
“You yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
Share with me; how do you show up for Little You?
Love and light, Phoenix
Additional resources I’ve found helpful:
Articles (Can be a bit overwhelming to read all at once, but they’re detailed and worth it):
25 Signs You Have a Wounded Inner Child (and How to Heal)
What Is Inner Child Work? A Guide To Healing Your Inner Child
Video Links (I play these while doing chores or driving):
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