I was raised in Disneyland, California. That means that I recognized fireflies in Maryland because of Pirates of the Caribbean and when I hear the phrase “Here we go!” I brace myself for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Each summer, the Arizona relatives would arrive and clutching our leftover ride coupons, we’d head back to Disneyland.
Although Disneyland meant the daytime rides and the evening fireworks – our mothers acted like, well mothers. They brought us kids home during the day for food and a break before heading back to the park. As I grew older, it was easy to tell which families had taken a break with the kids and which families had parents that were run by the kids.
Inner families are like that too. Everyone has heard of an Inner Child. Listening to our Inner Child simply means that we are in touch with and honor our emotions and body sensations. What a lot of people don’t know is that if we have an Inner Child, then we also have Inner Parents. These are called the Protective, Nurturing, Spiritual and Critical Parent*. All of these parents are here to take care of us. Not understanding this dynamic can lead to emotions run amok. Think about it – when is the last time you saw an adult throw a tantrum or have an emotional melt down?
When we are growing up, we learned to hide certain feelings that were taboo in our families. Any feeling can be taboo. Most common ones are boys don’t cry and girls can’t be mad. As children, when one of these taboo feelings becomes present, we develop coping strategies to stuff down the feeling. When we go to school, develop friendships, attend church, etc, we learn about more taboo feelings and thus, create new and creative coping strategies.
As children, these coping mechanisms kept us safe – that is, if we paid attention and stuffed down the feeling, we didn’t get in trouble. But a feeling is a unit of energy and unless it is seen, felt, accepted and released – the energy gets stored in our body. This energetic memory reactivates as we move in and out of situations that activate the taboo feeling. This is good news because the feeling is simply trying to be seen, felt, accepted and released. But because we have learned to JUDGE the feeling, instead of stopping to feel the pain – we numb the pain and the cycle begins again. This is why we find ourselves in the “same feeling place, different face” situations repeatedly.
The way out of emotional pain is through. It’s a process that I call Name- that is, Name your feelings, Accept your feelings, Move your feelings (through journaling or exercise) for Empowered choices.
We know where our inner child is running the show by looking at our life situations that are out of balance. For example, I’ve discovered that sometimes my inner kid has stolen the checkbook. So, when I took the morning to go shopping in downtown Santa Cruz, I set my limits by carrying the cash I wanted to spend and had fruit, water and tea in the car – thereby saving more mula for fun stuff. As I was shopping, I noticed that I wanted to buy gifts for others and that I had a big ‘SHOULD’ voice following me around telling me what I should buy and what I really needed.
“Uh, huh, thanks for sharing!”
The amount of money I spent was not as important as simply spending time enjoying kicking around downtown. Now I’m writing this blog wearing my new turquoise shell dangle earrings and am relishing reading my book of essays by Richard Rodriquez that I gleaned from Bookshop Santa Cruz’s sale bin. When I don’t take energy (in time or money) to spend time playing daily and going out for fun weekly – then I chance rebellious, unconscious spending later.
Listening to your feelings, body messages and intuition are paramount to our happiness. But all good parents need to use discretion. Boundaries mean that you are honoring your whole self. Boundaries keep you safe so you can enjoy life’s lovely ride.
May you skip safely and happily through this delicious day,
Read my December blog and for the process of using Visioning® to ground stuck feelings and my January blog to help identify feelings using collage.
*The Inner Family theory is based on Recovery of Your Inner Child by Dr. Lucia Capacchione, who founded of the Creative Journal Expressive Arts training with Dr. Marsha Nelson of Mission, Texas. Buy a copy of the book here too.
Read my article about El Rocio Retreat – the center where Lucia’s new students are trained. For more photos and events listing visit: http://www.elrocioretreat.com/.