Are you familiar with the term “Inner Child”? It is a descriptive word coined by psycho-emotive theorists to explain an underdeveloped part of a person’s personality. “Inner Child” is a phrase to explain repressed emotions – painful memories and feelings that have not been dealt with and are usually inhibiting adult emotional expression and behavior. It is the underdeveloped emotional component of the brain that causes emotional distance in couples, resulting in intimacy disconnects or squabbles. Everyone has some of these, although people in deep denial will protest to the contrary. Therapeutically, one tries to connect a strong “adult” to a weak scared buried “child,” resulting in a congruent personality. This integration empowers a person to have greater ability to be emotionally present in a healthy manner.
In order to develop this congruent personality an accomplished therapist guides a process to attain awareness and then heal these repressed memories. A person has to “feel it to heal it”. Let me share with you how I do this in working with an individual or couple. Perhaps you would like to do the exercise.
You begin by writing out your F-A-H-G list, an acronym for Fear, Anger, Hurt, and Guilt. You are to write out your painful negative memories, from as far back as possible. You are to have separate lists for Fears, Angers, Hurts, and Guilts. These early experiences/feelings have “wired” your brain in a certain way. The brain is a responsive organ, reacting to the surrounding emotional environment, particularly during the early years. Awareness of these buried emotions facilitates emotional growth and behavioral change.
Some people are “wired” to be emotionally expressive. This type usually leads to a “Controller” type of personality. The other type is the emotionally retentive. This type usually develops a “Pleaser” type of personality. The F-A-H-G list will point out the direction. A person’s defensive mechanisms, protecting the early “Inner Child,” will then be manifest. The emotionally expressive person will defend through anger, judgment, and criticism. The emotionally retentive person will withdraw, keep emotions buried, and tend toward some addictive behavior.
It is important to remember that this exercise is about getting in touch with emotions and describing certain negative events of your life, particularly early experiences in the family. This is not an exercise in blaming, as some people wrongfully assume. Early caregivers usually did the best that they were capable with the best of intentions (with some notable exceptions), they just may not have had the capacity to do a better job.
If you are able to re-connect with these early experiences which have “wired” your brain you then can make better choices of behavior. You will be able to communicate more adeptly and connect more deeply with those who are significant in your life. You are on the way to modifying some parts of you that need remediation. Hope you give it a try. It will be both painful and enlightening.