Last week I talked about the Inner Child and introduced the concept of an Inner Family. This blog – it’s time to meet the parents. If our emotions, intuition and body sensations are the Inner Child (IC), then the way to create safety with the IC is through the Inner Parents*. Inner Family work has four parents. A9ll of these parents are needed for every stage of raising an IC. These Inner Parents are the Protective Parent, Nurturing Parent, Critical Parent, and the Spiritual Parent. In addition, two crucial family members are the Observer and the Aware Ego. These two aspects set the parent roles into motion - instantly. If your life is out of balance in the areas of health, wealth, love, creativity and general happiness, then understanding how your internal Selves operate can remove the barriers to your dreams.
The Protective Parent
The Protective Parent is the part of us that sets boundaries both internally and externally. Internally, I use my Protective Parent when I drag my IC off the beach in order to get back to my desk. Externally, I am using this mode when I put my ‘boundary bag’ on my door when I don’t want to be disturbed. I also use Protective Parent mode when I am in a new social situation. When I’m with my friends, the childlike silly aspect of my Self is free to express because I know I am with trusted loved ones.
A Protective Parent that is out of balance results in sentences like these: “Those people are taking advantage of me!” “I dread going into work – my boss is going to throw a fit when he sees my sales numbers are down!” A balanced Protective Parent keeps our IC safe. These safety measures can take the form of making agreements with others, but we need to understand where the internal agreements break down first.
The Nurturing Parent
The Nurturing Parent is the part of us that cares for our health. When its time to eat, we stop and eat. We don’t try to finish just “one more thing” to the detriment of our body. We stop writing our blog in order to watch the final episode of Brothers and Sisters. If we need to relax after work – we take a bath or have tea and read. If we have an emotionally charged day, we give our selves quiet time rather than burying our feelings with too much alcohol, television, Internet or other repetitive patterns.
After auditioning for a musical in San Luis Obispo a few years back, I allowed myself cry and be sad when I didn’t make the cut. This is allowing was my nurturing aspect let the IC express. The feeling lasted just a few minutes. Years later, for my graduation Capstone class at Antioch, I performed an original musical medley as my final exam. (The DVD footage will not be uploaded.) If I had stuffed down the audition experience with phrases such as “Oh, it was meant to be” before feeling the disappointment – I wouldn’t have performed my ‘shuffle off to Buffalo’ routine. The reason? My unprocessed disappointment would have been stored in my body. Feeling disappointed at the time yielded the joy of being onstage in an original musical later.
The Spiritual Parent
The Spiritual Parent is the aspect of us that is our all knowing, grounded Self. It is connected to the Spiritual plane and knows that we are loved. The qualities are acceptance, patience, compassion and loving kindness. In the New Age movement, many people identify with this aspect. Or they judge this aspect as the better than the other parental modes. This is dangerous because hanging out in the ethereal realm creates an imbalance. That is, when its time to come to earth and do the work – there is a tendency to maintain the spiritual high through drugs or drama. The limitless quality of this parent does not allow for the reality of limits that the material world imposes.
The Spiritual Parent forgives a betrayal, while the IC feels the hurt, the nurturing aspect heals, and the protective aspect leaves these relationships behind - or insists on couples counseling! Rushing to forgiveness before processing the pain only buries the hurt in our cellular memory.
Journaling with the Spiritual Parent using the non-dominant hand technique (see January Blog) dispels the societal beliefs of “Daddy God coming in for the rescue.” Journaling with this parent gave me the clarity to take the action in plenty of situations. For instance, in a car accident I had in May of 2007, I called on the Spiritual Parent. After I realized I was not hurt, I closed my eyes and gave thanks. I remembered blessing the journey of insurance paperwork that greeted me. But when it came time to meet the other driver – my Protective Parent took care of business.
The Critical Parent
The Critical Parent is the one I have discussed the most in my blog postings because I have spent a lot of time either listening to its voice or resisting its voice - which energetically, is the same thing. Dr. Capacchione teaches that this parent is necessary in the same way that Inspector Clouseau wrestled with Kato in the Pink Panther movies. That is, he needed the surprise attack to keep his sleuthing skills sharp! If only my Critical Parent’s grousing were as hilarious as Peter Sellars movies. Actually, they can be – once you recognize the disguises this crafty parent uses.
In her book, The Energy of Money, Maria Nemeth calls the Critical Parent, Monkey Mind. Warning signals that we are making decisions from Monkey Mind are being vague, being defensive, taking things personally, making excuses, using either/or thinking – you get the point.
Two aspects of the Critical Parent are The Pusher and The Perfectionist. Both of these aspects are rampant in the Western work world.
You know me - I created a Visioning® collage of my Inner Family. In the Critical Parent section a woman is cringing under the photo of a skinny, persnickety cartoon man. This cartoon man represents the Critical Parent. Beneath the cartoon man is a little Buddha face laughing. Phew! Critical Parent techniques are in my April Blog.
The Observer and The Aware Ego
The Observer: Also on my collage is an image of Buddhist Monk sweeping. This is my Observer representative. But the Observer only observes and needs the directorial skills of the Aware Ego. My Aware Ego is represented by Cesar Milan and Chris Rock. These images remind me to ‘be aware of the energy I am emitting” and “the laughter behind my human drama.”
The Observer is the witness to the events in our life. It simply sees what is happening and reports on the facts. There is no emotional attachment. These reports are used by the Aware Ego, who is the internal director. The Aware Ego gets information from the Observer. Here is an example. The Observer tells the Aware Ego “Dorothy’s boss Susie is yelling again.” Nowhere in the Observers reporting does it mention any personalization. It’s just the facts, ma’m. The Aware Ego can now make a decision.
In this real life circumstance, I was aware of the Observer voice and realized that Susie was like a child throwing a tantrum. I simply let the tantrum happen, and then repeated back what I heard Susie wanted. Because I didn’t jump on the “Susie is yelling there must be something wrong with Susie, with me, with ____,” bandwagon, the situation diffused quickly. If I had tried to fix the situation instead, well, I’d still be standing there with a red faced Susie boss.
We know that the Aware Ego is asleep at the wheel when we go on vacations with our files from work or go to meet prospective clients wearing our swim trunks. The Aware Ego is the decider. It chooses which role is appropriate for which setting. Going to negotiate a contract? Better take the Protective Parent. Stymied by a major decision? Then spend some time journaling with your Spiritual Parent.
The important thing to realize is that we are not any of these roles. We are not our Inner Child. We are not the Aware Ego and we are not the Protective Parent. We are human beings, set on this planet to enjoy our incredible lives. Get to know your Inner Family and the roles they play. They are here to help you move through life’s situations with grace.
May you and your Inner Family celebrate your life!
Dot in Pacific Grove
PS:For specifics on the Inner Family dynamic,
read Recovery of your Inner Child by Dr. Lucia Capacchione.