In last week’s issue, learned that children are vulnerable by nature and need their parents’ protection in order to develop their own healthy boundaries. We explored both internal and external boundaries and illustrated what a listening and talking boundary look like. We saw that when the FA (Functional Adult) feels safe, she, in turn, can give her inner child a true sense of safety.

When the environment of a child is safe and the child is well protected, she is free to explore her thoughts and feelings, building a sense of self as she emotionally matures and develops. This brings us to the next core issue: Reality. Reality is that children are born naturally imperfect. From when we are born, we make mistakes. A child is neither good and perfect, nor bad and rebellious. In healthy parenting, when the focus is on the child, the child is seen, heard and accepted as they are: perfectly imperfect.

As a result of this healthy parenting, the FA develops their thoughts and feelings and stays grounded in reality. They have a sense of self, and their self-awareness deepens as they grow and mature. An FA lives in the truth and is able to see the bigger picture. They see the bigger picture while noticing what’s going on in the present, maintaining a view of the forest despite the proximity of the trees. They can be in their reality, express it politically, and hold a boundary while in conversation with others without the need to change their own or the others’ opinion. They are speaking to be known and listening to hear. Relationships where both individuals have their own sense of self will be mostly engaging, energizing and meaningful.

There is wounding in the core area of reality when there is inadequate nurturing and affirming around the child’s individuality. Children will adapt early on into who their caregivers want them to be instead of developing into who they are meant to be. Often times, this is where children take on roles in their family of origin. The “hero child” is usually the one who adapts by being the good and perfect child and is the family trophy. The “scapegoat child” takes on the role of the bad and rebellious one and becomes the “identified patient” in the family. There is also the “lost child” who can be like the chameleon, ever adapting to their environment and other people’s expectations of them. All three types are roles that children (based on different variables in their upbringing) fill and take on as a form of identity, because it was unsafe to develop their own identities. Developmental immaturity/ co-dependence is when the adult lacks a sense of self and regresses, or lives from a younger state, relating to the world from an underdeveloped point of view.

Recovery from this relational trauma happens when your FA intervenes, using those moments of arrested development to come into the truth and to do the repair. Here’s an exercise to help you deepen your relationship with your inner child and continue the healing process:

Go into your safe space where you can get grounded. Latch onto a comfortable image that will help you feel safe and comfortable — what often works is something from nature such as a lake, beach or forest. Breathe deeply as you feel your body and the earth beneath you holding you. As you relax, gently close your eyes. Tap into your sensations and your current struggle. In your mind’s eye, ask yourself «how I old do I feel now?» Notice what image comes up. Take in her face, her eyes, details about her and her surroundings. See her. Make eye contact. Hear her, and acknowledge her. How does she react to you? Does she trust you more as time goes by? Affirm her value and preciousness. Let her know she’s safe with you, and that you will hold her sacred. Ask her who she is in that moment? Bring the awareness you have with you today to the conversation. Use your FA skills to reassure her that it is okay to speak her truth. Tell her it’s okay to be herself. It‘s no longer necessary to fill a role and take on another identity. Your developmental age will intuitively know her voice as you allow her to speak.

While letting go of the old and making space for the new, our inner voice will emerge loud and clear from under the rubble. As those false layers and other forms of identity start to shed, we’ll find that, indeed, it is the truth that sets us free.