Sadly, there is quite a bit of dysfunction in many families. What I mean by that is impairment in the function of a system, the family system. In my practice as a parent coach and educator, I often hear parents talk about the dysfunction that they grew up in with their own families. Many times that carries over into the next generation. It may look different, but the dysfunction is still there, at least until it is faced head-on.
Forever free is my new mantra. In the past, at family functions, I have felt uncomfortable, out of place, left out, unworthy, voiceless, and angry. These feelings were from the childhood that lingered inside of me and came barging back into my head every time I entered a family gathering. I knew that these patterns and thoughts needed to be changed. I could already see that it had affected my children. These types of dysfunctions spread from generation to generation.
I was willing to break the link. This energy that did not feel right or comfortable was the exact energy that I would use to create healing. We cannot change the behavior of others in our family or anywhere for that matter, but we can change our thoughts and reactions to their actions. This was an image that I was seeing over and over again. The constant movie that was playing in my head from my conditioning was that I was not good enough, smart enough, worthy enough or valued enough to fit into my own family. As a child, I was sad often. As a young person in my 20’s, these feelings propelled me into perfectionism and performance. I was a very high achiever both in college and then in the business world.
So, you see, we create these movies in our heads of what these scenes look like and every time we have to enter back into the same scene or something similar, we see the same old movie replaying over and over. It starts in our head and then becomes our predominant thoughts and our strong energy. This story does not have a place in my life anymore. I did not want to watch this movie over and over.
So, it was freedom and healing that I was seeking. What that looked like for me was to be able to tap into that time, that age, that was really shouting at me. The age that I really began to feel this movie start was at 8 years old. This little person, the 8-year-old girl, was not feeling heard, did not get her needs met and was not feeling loved. So, I began to talk to this little person and journal about the experience. She shared that, at nighttime, she wanted attention, to be cuddled and loved for as long as she needed. That did not happen for her in real time as an 8 year, old but I could cuddle her now, nurture her now. As I asked my 8-year-old self questions like what do you need right now? This little girl, my 8-year-old self, wanted to be loved and cared for in a way that worked for her. She wanted to spend time with her mom, to feel that connection and love as she went to bed, a few songs to be sung and conversations about the day. This was an open wound. I continued the conversations with this young self to work through many different needs, challenges and obstacles, always reassuring in every way that I could, that created this unbearable movie that kept playing over and over. Over time, we (my young self and I) worked through all of these issues that played a role in my movie. With each journal entry and conversation, I would come back to a place of centering. During these discussions and painful moments, I would feel the flare inside myself, I would move through it by focusing on how to heal the pain, how to give myself what I needed at that time, and move through it. We must hear these voices, tend to them, talk to them, and move through them, in order to free them, and ourselves. We begin to picture ourselves in a different way.
As we ask the inner child questions, we talk with them as if they are in front of us. Let her speak – she needs a voice. Then, bringing my mother wisdom and knowledge to my inner child helped her to feel good, create the link and get what she needed.
Listening is a reconnection and integration of all parts within the self. Whatever your inner child needed – the attention, to be heard, to feel the love – we have the answer within us, but first, the questions and conversations need to occur. Beneath the surface, we can meet the needs – and give our own inner child what they needed but may not have gotten. In this way, we change the movie. Making a new movie for ourselves is the most transforming and loving experience or gift that we can give ourselves.
Imagine the young child in front of you. What questions can you ask this little person in order to help them move through their pain and be forever free? This takes time and patience. It does not happen overnight. Like anything, you must commit to the process and nurture yourself and your inner child throughout.