Inner Child Therapy and Peter Pan Syndrome
The inner child is real … in general it’s a psychological/phenomenological reality and an extraordinarily powerful one. Most mental disorders and destructive behaviour patterns are more or less related to this unconscious part of ourselves. We are all children, most adults are unaware of this.
Yet, he was only a child, in a soldiers uniform...
"Un-Pack your troubles from your old kit bag,
And smile, smile, smile..."
Lack of conscious relatedness to our own inner child is where so many behavioural, emotional and relationship difficulties stem from. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one's own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, betrayed, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected.
To become adults, we've been taught that our inner child--representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness--must be stifled, quarantined or even killed. The inner child comprises and potentiates these positive qualities. but it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers. "Grown-ups" are convinced they have outgrown and left this child and its emotional baggage-long behind. But this is far from the truth. These so-called adults are being influenced or controlled by this unconscious inner child! For many, it is not an adult directing their lives, but an emotionally wounded inner child inhabiting an adult body. It is a hurt, angry, fearful child calling the shots, making adult decisions. A child doing an adults job.
Can a child have a mature relationship? A career? An independent life? We wonder why our relationships fall apart. Why we feel so anxious, afraid, insecure, inferior, small, lost, lonely…. But how else would any child feel having to fend for themselves in an apparently adult world, without proper parental supervision, protection, structure or support? It is not dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality), but rather a far more common, pervasive and insidious sort of socially sanctioned dissociation. But if we can recognise this problem for what it is, we can begin dealing with it. How is this accomplished?
First, one becomes conscious of his or her own inner child. Remaining unconscious is what empowers the dissociated inner child to take possession of the personality at times, to overpower the will of the adult. Next, we learn to take our inner child seriously and to consciously communicate with child within: to listen to how he/she feels and what he/she needs from us here and now. The often frustrated primal needs of that perennial inner child--for love, acceptance, protection, nurturance, understanding--remain the same today as when we were children. As pseudo-adults, we futilely attempt to force others into fulfilling these infantile needs for us. But this is doomed to failure.
What we didn't sufficiently receive in the past as children must be confronted in the present, painful though it may be. The past traumas, sadness, disappointments and depression must be transformed or accepted into growth. We should not as adults now expect others to meet all of these unfulfilled childhood needs. They cannot. Authentic adulthood requires both accepting the painful past and the primary responsibility for taking care of that inner child's needs, for being a "good enough" parent to him or her now--and in the future (Psychotherapy for the Soul- Dr.Diamond).
Maya Hypnosis practices (Transpersonal Psychology), this is where the adult part of the personality reintegrates and learns (and all of this is a learning process) to relate to the inner child exactly as a good parent relates to a flesh-and-blood child, providing reassurance, discipline, limits, boundaries and structure. These are all--along with support, nurturance, and acceptance--indispensable elements of loving and living with any child, whether metaphorical or actual. By initiating and maintaining an ongoing dialogue between the two, reconciliation between inner child and mature adult can be reached. A new, mutually beneficial, cooperative, symbiotic relationship can be created in which the sometimes conflicting needs of both the adult self and inner child can be creatively satisfied. The Magic of the child is re-born.
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