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The following text is an adjusted excerpt from my book “SHADOW: OUR SILENT COMPANION THROUGH LIFE’S JOURNEY”
Right from the moment of our birth,
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.
Actually, in my approach,
I think that the term “inner child” is a rather convenient way of talking about experiences that were left in limbo, incomplete (called in Gestalt therapy “unfinished business”), from an exceptionally sensitive developmental period during which we were utterly dependent on our environment.
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 non-conscious regions of our being (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); 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.
*** “The Hereticals” is a series of live videos that I do in fb and I upload also here, in my web-page, as well as in my channel in You Tube.
*** All of “The Hereticals” are on concepts that I think are horribly abused by internet, social media and pop-psychology (love, forgiveness, interconnectedness, positive thinking, the power of our thoughts, etc).
*** I do not claim at all that what I say about such concepts is any kind of “truth”, I only present my personal approach.
NOTE: All of “The Hereticals” are based on and refer directly or indirectly to the theory and philosophy underlying Gestalt therapy and especially its existential aspects.