When one of the two acts from the inner child (with all its vulnerability, needs, and childish claim to attention and recognition) you can hardly help but take care of yourself. You may be furious, aggressive, tired, or tense, yet one primordial part of your brain reacts and begins to care about the other, whether you like it or not.
Are you the inner child in the relationship?
How do you recognize if the inner child is in charge?
- You are more sensitive than fits the situation.
- You feel that you do not react very constructively in a situation.
- You are unable to act wisely, and you shut yourself off or become aggressive and attack.
- Strange fears arise.
- You lose the feeling for your middle, the feeling that you are fixed and stable in the world and that you are present within.
- Your thoughts are spinning and you are trying to somehow control and master the situation.
- You feel shame or the irrational fear of being abandoned. You are unable to break free from an unpleasant situation, but you feel dependent on your partner.
The difference between the adult-me and the child-me
The fears of being abandoned are not always the fears of the inner child. Often you feel ashamed without being in the inner child, or you feel attacked, become aggressive, or dependent. The difference is that when you are in your adult self you find real solutions and you often quickly regain control emotionally.
If you are in the child-I (inner child), that is not possible; then you lose your mind, you are unable to act and you start to control and avoid yourself, your feelings, and the situation, instead of solving it. You reassure yourself and others, make excuses for yourself and your partner, become aggressive, and flee into abstract thought structures, instead of looking at what is really going on.
If you recognize yourself in this, then it is time to accept that your inner child may be busy and trying to run your business, not the grown man or woman. Why is that? Because you probably don’t know anything else at all. Because you’re afraid of taking responsibility for yourself, are co-dependent, or otherwise can’t handle a relationship. Because if your partner is over and over reacting from the parent-self, controlling, patronizing and shaming you, punishing when you resist his will, rewarding when you’re ‘good’, then you may have to leave the relationship unless he doesn’t show his behavior. changes.
But we’re not there yet. When you stop feeling and acting from the child-I, then the other person can finally be relieved from the parent-I. The same applies the other way around: when you stop playing mommy or daddy, no matter how much the other invites you or seems to invite you to do so, he must take the step towards personal responsibility, or things will go wrong in the long run.
What if you both act from the inner child?
Usually, if you both act from the inner child, one of you will become more lenient, transition more quickly into the grown-me or parent-me, and apparently put things back in order. But in fact nothing has been resolved. You live in a seemingly vibrant, but in reality emotionally dramatic relationship, in which growth is hardly possible. That means you make very few real decisions that affect both of you.
You can probably take care of your physical children very well, but when it comes to the two of you, about what you want from life, the conversations degenerate into a power struggle, in which you accuse each other of distancing yourself from what presents itself, instead of to communicate clearly in true sincerity. You don’t take responsibility for your deepest wants and needs and don’t present them clearly to the other, but you circle around and hope that the other somehow notices what’s going on. And you sulk under the skin; at worst, you behave passive-aggressively.
It also applies the other way around. When one of you functions from the pedantic and usually fun-destroying parent self, he almost forces the other into the child’s role, which is the intention; you just have a little more control when you take on the parent role. In this case, please take a good look at your inner child. Because it is this hurt inner child that is afraid of losing control.
The parent-me and child-me in practice
Too much theory, so now a practical example. For months, there’s been an unfinished spot in your house, say, a broken floor that you think needs re-tiling. The old tiles were broken and have been carefully removed. Instead, a piece of chipboard has been lying there for years. You want to order a professional for a definitive solution, but you keep being told: ‘Never mind, that’s my business, I’ll take care of it.’ Okay, you think; you don’t want to get involved, but one day your partner rips the chipboard off the floor.
He has big plans, a hardwood floor for the entrance hall. He makes a diligent and satisfied impression. But what are you doing? “Hardwood floor?” you ask critically and doubtfully. “Didn’t we agree on tiles?” You weren’t, though. You suggested that and he didn’t contradict it, but that’s not a yes! However you worded your proposal, it came across to your partner as the eternally nagging mother or the ever-disgruntled father standing in the doorway.
Your partner’s inner child becomes sad and also cranky, but he is not giving up yet. He takes the remaining tiles from the basement and puts them down. He is offended but does his best to please. But you think: the same tiles? And again you intervene, perhaps a little mocking or grumbling,
‘Okay, we’ll drive to the hardware store and see which tiles you want,’ he says and with that, he approaches you. But you are sure that you will not agree at the hardware store. You already know that struggle and have very different ideas than him. You have never talked about this and know each other’s preferences and why not. And for all these reasons, you get tired on the spot and say you can’t. He clears the tiles again and puts the chipboard back in its place. He is furious, offended, and stubborn. Because he rejects your proposals just as hard as you reject his, you don’t come to a solution.
A hurt inner child
Let’s assume that both are interested in a cozy home. However, they are not used to (or have given up) consulting with each other in order to arrive at a joint solution. Why not? Well, somewhere in the discussion about the arrangement of the common house, a critical and odious parent-self has crept in and hurt the partner’s inner child, as well as his own, but has never been exposed.
There are many reasons why a couple stops talking to each other. But the cause is always the same: one of them always speaks from the disapproving or controlling parent self (at least that’s how it is felt) and the other slips into the child self. Or one of them is already in the child self, forcing the other into the nurturing parent self, instead of listening to each other’s problems.
Exercise: The inner journey
Step 1: Recognize what’s going on
A solution is not always easy to realize, because the watchman at the first gate is the dark dragon of denial. He protects the inner child from further trauma by not allowing you to feel what you feel. What the dark dragon does not know, however, is that you are now an adult. You now have very different ways of dealing with things. You have tools at your disposal, with the help of which you can take control of your life and endure what you feel (yes, sometimes it involves enduring) and comfort and protect yourself.
Step 2: The inner journey
Visually imagine the first gate. You observe the dark dragon guarding the gate. Now decide if you are willing to go through the gate, although you don’t know how at this point. If you’ve decided to take on the dragon, go after him. He sniffs and spits fire. You have an instrument in your hands that you can use to calm him down.
It is a symbol that you have agreed upon. You would come to him at a certain time and you have agreed that you will then show him the symbol so that the dragon knows that the healing journey to yourself begins. So see which symbol you brought with you and show it to him. You don’t have to understand it. Your subconscious mind works with inner images and symbols.
The dark dragon recognizes the sign and because he is at the service of your soul, he calms down and clears the way through the gate. One day you may understand what your relationship with the symbol means, perhaps you are already feeling it. But the point is that the dark dragon knows, because only then will he step aside. You can thank him for guarding the gate if you want, then walk through it.
For example, my symbol is a broken alarm clock. This and every subsequent dark dragon recognize that time is over. Do not ask the why of your symbols; they work very deep in the brain stem. feel them; your mind need not grasp them logically. In the history of development, perceiving things is much older than understanding and always precedes it. Otherwise, there will be no real understanding, but only a thought construction.
And we already have too many of those. They prevent real thinking. Don’t worry if you haven’t found a solution yet, we’re just on our way. The first hurdle is the hardest. From there we move on.