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Stuck? How Your Inner Child Can Help

Do you ever notice that you are feeling sad or angry or upset for no reason? Do you find yourself repeating old patterns even though you know there are better ways? Guess what? There is nothing wrong with you! Your inner child can help.


What’s an Inner Child? Everyone has one. That’s the tender, innocent and sweet part of you that’s in you still. It’s the part where as a very young child you may have felt scared, or not nurtured, maybe not seen, or heard, or really considered. Your inner child found ways to cope. But there's a part that was wounded in the process, and that hurt is still there, though it may be deeply buried. This is not a blame game. Maybe your parents or caretakers were emotionally stressed, unaware, or distracted, so they could not be fully attuned to you. I can remember feeling like I was looking at my parents who happened to argue a lot, and even at a very young age, I said to myself "It’s not supposed to be this way."  But as a child, you cannot expect your parents to change – you have to adapt. The good news is as an adult, you can learn to re-parent yourself. This is important - YOU can learn to re-parent your inner child, which means stand in as the wise and loving parent, for the part of you that did not have your emotional needs met. 


Why does it matter? That deeper hurt shows up in the present day as feeling stuck. As a child, you developed beliefs and patterns that helped you survive, and we’ll talk about 7 main ways the inner child adapts and learns to cope. See which way resonates most with you. The problem is that now as an adult, these ways may trip you up, like choosing the wrong relationships, like not being able to start or finish projects, and you might feel shame or disappointed in yourself. "Why am I always doing this?" It’s not your fault, and there is a way out! Befriending your inner child is key , then we’ll talk about ways to help you go forward.


These 7 archetypes are from Nicole Lapera’s wonderful book How to Do the Work. By becoming aware of them, and working with the one you relate to most, that Inner Child will help you reconnect to your wisest, strongest self. Let’s see which you resonate with most:


  1. The Caretaker: thinking the only way to receive love and feel like you matter is to make sure other’s needs are met. The downside is you neglect and may not even be aware of your own needs. This is one that resonated very strongly with me.
  2. The Overachiever: thinking that the only way to receive love is through doing things perfectly, achieving high scores or honors, working so hard so you could be the best. Only then could you be happy, feel like you are enough, and make others happy too. This is a huge burden.
  3. The Underachiever: thinking that the only way to receive love is to make yourself small, even invisible because it’s too scary to risk failure or criticism. So, it’s better and safer to stay out of the game, entirely. These are the people who have huge potential but don’t want to risk trying.
  4. The Rescuer/protector: thinking that the only way to receive love is to bring a lot of energy to helping other people solve their problems. They sense that other people feel as helpless and vulnerable as they used to feel as a small child, so they get into action. This helps them feel like they matter, but it’s hard burden to lighten everyone else’s load, and ignore their own needs.
  5. The Life of the Party: thinking that the only way to receive love is to make sure everyone is happy and entertained. They may have been shamed for showing vulnerability, so now present themselves always happy and upbeat, rather than show real emotions like sadness or anger or fear.
  6. The Yes-Person: thinking that the only way to receive love is to always drop everything & be 100% present for others. Similar to the caregiver. It also involves saying yes to things they’d rather not do, like listen to a friend venting for 3 hours straight, lend money, or changing plans to “be there.”
  7. The Hero Worshipper: thinking that the only way to receive love is to copy someone else’s success formula, while rejecting their own wants and needs. Maybe they idolized a caregiver or parent, and wanted to emulate them. They will poll others before making a decision and haven’t learned to trust themselves or their intuition.


Which one is most like you, or the people you are close to in your life?


Exercise from the book:

Choose your archetype and write a letter to your inner child.  It's best to use your own name. Like, I would write:

Dear Caretaker Randy,

I know you have felt the need to take care of everyone around you, to make them feel better, and to make sure everyone is happy with you. I know this makes you feel really tired and you don’t always end up being able to make people feel better. You don’t have to do this anymore. You are allowed to take care of yourself now. I promise you others will still love you. 

I see you, I hear you, and I love you always,

Wise Adult Randy


Do that for yourself, for whatever archetype resonates most for you now. Continue as a practice. Notice the subtle changes, as you learn that you can show up for yourself, and allow your inner child to engage with your wise self. Together, you will help heal the core issues that end up making you feel stuck.



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