In our childhood as well as in life we often tend to manifest aspects of our selves that are not so much acceptable
by our environment. Then in order to survive, we isolate such aspects by “storing” them in a non-conscious region of our being, that in my approach I call “Shadow”.
This term was originally introduced by Carl Yung – in my book, though I adopt the term, I explore and enrich it in my own perspective.
The Shadow, as we shall see in section 14, is under construction right from the moment of our birth. From that time our parents’ expectations, and those of the environment generally, rain down upon us. Under their weight, we sometimes become invisible, as if no one sees us. One might say we become transparent, as far as our needs are concerned.
Then we feel our existence shrink.
We feel we are incapable, inadequate, not good enough to be seen; our self-image and our self-esteem are warped.
We lose the self-evident right to occupy the space on this earth that rightfully belongs to us simply because we were born on this earth. So when we painfully learn that an aspect of ours is displeasing to the all-powerful environment, it is natural that we isolate this aspect in our Shadow, together with the feelings that accompany that aspect.
Thus, gradually, by isolating into the Shadow more and more aspects of our selves that are not accepted by the environment, it is as if an entire childhood part of our self was frozen into silence; it is as if an entire palette of emotions of that most distinctive time of our life now remains inaccessible.
I think that the term “inner child” is a rather functional way
of talking about experiences that were left in limbo, incomplete from an exceptionally sensitive developmental period during which we were utterly dependent on our environment.
So, in one sense, we could say that the inner child is a part of our Shadow: actually it is the ancient Shadow which we formed in childhood.
This, though, does not negate the fact that our Shadow gets continuously renewed in adulthood, when:
(a) we experience a trauma – we live through an event in which we come near to psychological or actual death,
(b) more generally, when we experience events so hard for us as to be unbearable. In such cases, our more recent Shadows are merged with the primordial childhood ones.
Our inner child is as if we kept imprisoned, under our adult skin,
the sensations, feelings and behavioural tendencies of a frightened, sad and angry child; a child who is composed of aspects of ours which were unacceptable to the environment; a child immobilised in space and time in the depths of our Shadow, eternally waiting in vain to be seen (accepted) by an idealised parent who would dispel his or her nightmare, like a magician.
This parent, though, never appears in adult life and, regardless of the passing years, the inner child is still a desperate child eternally waiting for the nightmare to end.
I mean that we, though adults, carry this child inside us, and when the present resonates with the past we identify our adult wholeness with it. And so we remain in an endless state of awaiting the ideal parent, even in our adult life.
Of course, when we so closely identify our adult self with our inner child the result is that our inner child’s feelings take us over and the little child, forgotten in the Shadow, takes control of our present adult life.
In other words, alienated past aspects of our selves, imprisoned in our Shadow, start to affect our present adult life, crucially and often destructively.
In such cases, we suffer greatly. We start repeating in our adult present again and again what we were doing in our childhood (we get entrapped in repetitive, re-enacted life scenarios – see section 31); also, even though we are adults, we continue in our present to project onto others the role of the healing parent who will finally accept us as we are. And so forth.
So the very general term “inner child” is often used in the description of a very old and critical “unfinished business” connected to an ancient and universal human need: as children, to feel that we are recognised (seen) and accepted as we are, without being criticised or diminished.
There are many approaches to several perceptions about “healing” connected with the concept of the inner child. They come from psychotherapy, from psychology, from esotericism and from a number of varieties of pop psychological nonsense.
Some approaches are serious, worthy of respect, and deal with the issue responsibly.
Others are simply melodramatic idiocies.
Some just promise hope, others consist only of metaphysical statements and solutions based on cosmic or even angelic support.
Issues to do with childhood are in any case very sensitive, for all of us.
The rules of adult life in this current consumer society are cruel and inhuman, while at the same time in official education there is an almost total lack of responsible information on what personal growth might mean.
Therefore, the idea of the inner child often produces an intense mixture of bittersweet feelings based on a vague nostalgic mood.
The result is a great demand for anyone, expert or not, who promises to bring us into redemptive, liberating and healing contact with our inner child.
So, unfortunately, in our days there are a number of superficial approaches
that do nothing to improve our connection with our inner child. They simply result in a useless stirring up of bittersweet feelings about our childhood; in a pointless nostalgia for some lost sensitivity; in yet another repetition of futile grief for a lost paradise of warmth, understanding, and acceptance.
If we follow such approaches to exploring our adult connection with our inner child, the result is that our inner child is further mistreated and sinks several levels of misery deeper, down into the darkened dungeon of the Shadow. And we are left with the delusion that we healed our childhood wounds, that we metaphysically met with our inner child in some abstract space of infinite dimensions.
In fact, we are simply fortifying our Shadow,
we are losing our grounding in real life as well as our skills in shaping life; we lose them because such skills can be developed only when we accept what we presently and actually are in our wholeness (our past wounds included), and not when we suffer the delusion that our fantasies about what we would like to be are real (with our past wounds perfectly healed).
So fragility and high sensitivity about anything linked with childhood make many people trust in fast food solutions; the result is simply to strengthen their Shadows.
The theme of this book of Shadows
is about how some aspects of ourselves seem to escape us and, even if they are non-conscious and non- mentally perceived, they are able to critically affect whatever we are doing or not doing at any moment. It is a visit “down there”, at the sanctuary of our moments and of our selves.
This book is actually a thorough study and at the same time a proposal
about (a) the grandeur (and the drama) of how our experience is composed on both a micro (no-conscious) as well as on a macro (conscious) scale, (b) the architecture of the Shadowed “home” of what is usually called “inner child” – who is not only sad but also very angry…
SHADOW: our silent companion through life’s journey
INFO: [378 pages] [14,2 X 20,2 cm] ISBN 978-618-00-1371-9
1st edition in English: 100 numbered and signed copies.
This edition is published by the author and is to be distributed exclusively
in Greece or delivered in other countries only by order to the author: