Just a quick note about a post on Tom Volkar’s Delightful Work blog. It is called, Is Your Inner Child Still Running Your Life?

My guess is that our answer is often yes. Tom’s post is not judgemental about this – as so much in the personal development field can be. Instead Tom recommends getting to know our innner child, and healing hurts by finding what they want and providing it for them. He also describes clearly a practical way to do this.

An altogether excellent post. Read it here.

12 Comments to “Your Inner Child”

  1. That’s interesting… when I first read “inner child” I thought in terms of joy and playfulness. Maybe I’m doing something right?

  2. Evan says:

    Hi Jean, I think you probably are doing things right. It may also be that you had a happier childhood than some. Some people (like me) had an easier childhood than many others – my parents weren’t perfect or terribly perceptive, but I never doubted they loved me – and they never gave me reason to. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Actually I’m a lot happier as an adult than I was as a child. I believe in the motto, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” I agree, it helps a lot to have had love in the family, no matter how messed up that family was.

  4. Evan says:

    Me too. I like the motto too – very true I think.

  5. It bothers me when you talk about the inner child only in terms of hurt. I think you’re overestimating the importance of a happy childhood. The people I admire are the ones who were unhappy and decided life shouldn’t be that way. They would find or create something better. Those are my kindred spirits. I was lucky enough to be depressed as a kid…it gave me enough motivation to last me the rest of my life.

    When we were raising our daughter we made sure she wasn’t “underdeprived”. It was important to balance happy memories with some motivation.

  6. Evan says:

    Hi Jean, I apologise if I overestimate harm. I don’t think I talk only about hurt, but I apologise if this is the impression.

    We may disagree. It’s my experience that change usually requires support, and that support leads to resiliance and motivation. If this doesn’t accord with your experience I’d like to hear more of it. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Sometimes a bit of support does help, but my experience is a lot of people will keep playing the victim rather than take charge of their lives. When I taught classes and led groups I learned to tell the difference.

    My own history is that I was the listener/supporter for my mother. She had a hard life when she was little, and life with my father was no picnic. She was a hard worker, but overwhelmed and depressed until I was about 12 or 13. My sister reacted with rage, I reacted with love and understanding. So my mother and I became very close. I couldn’t talk to her about what I cared about (she always disapproved), but I sure could listen.

    That worked fine for us, but I tended to be too good a listener with other people. I eventually learned how much was healthy and how much was just encouraging people to enjoy complaining. Let’s face it, it can be fun to talk about ourselves if we have a concerned listener. That doesn’t always lead to change.

  8. Evan says:

    Hi Jean, the question that we are discuss I think is: what leads to change? For me it is the person accepting all parts of themselves (with the emphasis on the parts they don’t like). This can be done through listening (but of a particular kind I think). There are also methods of listening to oneself (journalling probably being the most common as well as particular kinds of meditation and so on) that are often used. There are prescriptive methods too but I have a number of problems with the prescriptive approaches (from pills to “meditation” and all points in between). However the prescriptive methods do work and I think have an important place for getting through crises. Hope this makes sense. Thanks for your concern and willingness to engage with this.

  9. “…what leads to change?” How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change. The crucial step is the person realizing what he/she is doing isn’t working and making a commitment to change.

    The six stages of personal change are:
    (1) Precontemplation—when the person has a problem but either doesn’t see it or else blames it on circumstances or other people.
    (2) Contemplation–when the person says, well, maybe I could do something to make things better.
    (3) Commitment–when the person decides to take responsibility and to figure out a better way of operating,
    (4) Preparation–learning about different techniques and maybe trying some to see what works
    )5) Action–integrating change into one’s life
    (6) Maintenance–doing what it takes to keep the change

    The commitment is crucial.

  10. Evan says:

    Thanks Jean, I’m familiar with this framework. I think the process is less linear than this suggests: preparation sending us back to contemplation or pre-contemplation, problems at the action stage sending us back to early stages and so on.

    It also doesn’t take account of us finding out that we don’t to make the change and so on, if you see what I mean. The maintenance stage is the interesting one I think – what has changed and what is being maintained? if you see what I mean. Perhaps we haven’t changed that much if we are doing (or wanting to do) the pre-change way.

    I do think commitment is usually needed (always for major changes I would think).

    It is also quite cerebral – though the emotions get in under the heading of commitment I think.

    I do think this can be a useful framework, it can get people moving and feel like there is something they can do (major benefits). I don’t think it is entirely adequate (but then few theories are I guess).

    I’m finding our discussion very interesting – thanks for your willingness to engage about these things.

  11. I agree that change is rarely linear, and the authors of the 6 steps explicitly say that. They say that people often try several times to make a big change like giving up smoking or overeating before they get there.

    I have no problem with the idea of maintenance. When I gave that talk I mentioned at Cheerful Monk my body reacted the same way it did years ago when I was afraid of public speaking. I didn’t take the reaction seriously, I just needed to do some tuning up.

    I like the six steps because it points out you don’t have to know how you’ll make the change before you make the commitment. Once you’re committed you will keep looking, get some help, etc.

  12. Evan says:

    Hi Jean, I didn’t realise the authors of the six-step thing said that it isn’t linear. I guess I would like to see them modify the model to take account of this.

    Not needing to know the how’s in advance I think is an advantage. Thanks for your comment and for engaging about this.

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