At the beginning
Historically, the concept of the inner child is widely used in the United States by different currents of psychology. It is less used in France, nevertheless more so.
What is the notion of the inner child ?
These are " the unresolved conflicts of our childhood [which] have repercussions on our adult life", write Marie-France and Emmanuel Ballet de Coquereaumont , specialists in the inner child and creators of the child heart method .
The inner child would be “the memory of the child that we have been”. Thus, the joys, sorrows, all the emotions felt, all the experiences of childhood mark the deep “me” and shape the adult in the making. And that child, that inner child, is inhibited, silenced with all the characteristics that are minimized : spontaneity, resilience, joy, love of others, lack of judgment, playfulness and exuberance.
Thus, most of the damage suffered in childhood can take place in the non-dominant part of the brain, with the first 6 years of life using this hemisphere. The non-dominant part of the brain only begins to function during language acquisition.
Recognizing and freeing your inner child allows you to live spontaneously, to discover and release your creative potential. "As soon as an individual has tamed and spiritually nourished his wounded Inner Child, the creative energy of his wonderful natural Child begins to emerge", explains the theologian, American psychologist John Bradshaw.
Whoever keeps his weakness is strong
“Whoever keeps his weakness is strong” - Tao-tô-king (the Book of the Path of Virtue) puts forward that each one has the opportunity to draw great strength from his weaknesses. It is the conscious and accepted weaknesses that make us stronger and more human. Vulnerability is thus universal and echoes ours. Exposing yourself, without complacency vis-à-vis your weaknesses, is the best way to become more adult and stronger in life. Being yourself requires discernment and it is up to each one to be vigilant and to feel it is possible to express oneself with confidence.
Keeping your weakness helps develop compassion. All past or present weaknesses have been, are, or can be sources of pain and affliction. At the beginning, the sufferings all have the same origin = the lack of love. To go further, when we are closest to our own suffering, we are closest to the sufferings of others, to universal ones. This awareness of the nature of human suffering thus gives birth to compassion which is one of the most successful human qualities. The term "compassion" comes from the Latin “compasio” which means “common suffering ". Thus, the one who keeps his weakness is strong because he keeps his whole humanity. And to know oneself is to recognize all the components of one's humanity.
And what of the needs?
If strengths and weaknesses are important elements, human is also characterized by strong aspirations, which are in fact needs , real needs.
Thomas d'Ansembourg, psychotherapist, defines needs as follows: “It is true that the word need is often misunderstood. It is not a question here of a desire for the moment, of a passing impulse, of a capricious desire. These are our basic needs, those which are essential to our life, those which we must satisfy in order to find a satisfactory balance, those which affect our most widespread human values : identity, respect, understanding, responsibility, freedom, mutual aid. "
But many may be unaware of what their real needs are. Desires and needs can easily be confused, desires are fleeting, superficial while needs are deeper and more accurate. There are many needs, like desires, except that they are essential to our happiness.
The ability to meet its needs, depends on what was received in childhood. Also, many needs in adults are closely linked to the shortcomings of childhood. This is an essential point for Guy Corneau, psychoanalyst and writer: “from a psychological point of view, our needs are mostly linked to past wounds ".
The shortcomings of childhood lead to urgent needs to be satisfied and the negation of these needs most often comes from an unconscious desire to numb suffering. As the need is just right, the compensatory search runs the risk of leading to emotional and material dependencies. The only person who can fix us is just ourselves. It is important to give in to ourself but at the same time not to reject the other.
Needs are also linked to the emotions we feel and this link will be the subject of a future article. Nevertheless, the recognition of our needs is the basis for the work on the emotions, for the inner child.
And this inner child, how to meet him, how to find him?
To start ( re ) making contact with your inner child, it is good to learn to establish a dialogue with him. Here are some simple exercises:
· Adopting the attitudes of a child = To start ( re ) making contact with the inner child, it is good to put yourself in a child skin. Adopting typical postures, gestures and attitudes of children can bring you closer to whoever is in you.
· To start, to initiate the dialogue with your inner child = It is possible to start by writing him a letter, going back in his memories until the moment when communication was broken with him. As if in a real discussion, it is possible to ask your inner child questions. Who has never talked to themselves?
· Drawing = In personal development, drawing is widely acclaimed to exteriorize one's emotions. For Carl Gustav Jung, “ representations of drawings / mandalas can have important therapeutic effects on their authors, the fact has been observed and it is likewise easy to understand ”. For the inner child, you can ask him to draw how he sees you as an adult. To allow him to express himself more freely, it is possible to draw with the unused hand (the left for right-handed people and the right for left-handed people).
· Mandalas = It is possible to work your needs through mandalas. First, make a list of your needs and circle in green the needs that are naturally met. Then, identify the needs that are more difficult to meet, to circle in red. Rank them in order of importance, starting with the most essential. Over the next few days, you work on filling the first essential need circled in red. You will then build an “action mandala ” by putting all the actions, in bubbles, around the need to be filled . These acts are to be performed as many times as necessary. This work, like those presented above, requires energy and vigilance, but it can be rewarding. Once you have reach the first unmet need, you can work on the second and so on. Deciding to meet your needs becomes even more important and powerful, it is possible to draw on a large sheet with different colors and display it at home, prominently.
Have these exercises made small changes, awakenings ? You have already connected to yourself, to your needs, to your inner child. Well done !
To conclude, I will quote John Bradshaw, "Becoming an adult who opens up to its child's heart is the true mark of maturity ".