This week, we’ll delve inward in an attempt to explore what goes on inside many of us beneath the surface. For those of us curious enough to look, we may find an inner world that is waiting to be discovered — and an «inner child» calling for our attention.
To get a glimpse of that precious child within, we first need to get a clear understanding of who we once were, in our natural state as children, before we adapted, unnaturally, into who we are today.
Children are born with the following innate qualities:
VALUABLE — Children need to know they are loved, valuable and precious — just for being who they are.
VULNERABLE — Children need nurturing, affirming and limit-setting to grow into healthy Functional Adults. Children also need to be seen, heard and protected. If they were not given proper protection and boundaries when young, children will either be unrestrained growing up or go behind a wall in order to feel safe.
IMPERFECT — Children are born «perfectly imperfect» and naturally make mistakes. This is the core issue of reality. If no room was allowed for mistakes as a child, then it is very likely that the child adapted to being «good and perfect» or «bad and rebellious,» giving the child an identity in their family of origin, thereby creating for themselves a false sense of self.
DEPENDENT — Children are dependent and need to be cared for physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If a child’s needs were not adequately met, then it will be a struggle for the child to practice proper self-care and interdependence as an adult.
CAREFREE — Finally, children are born naturally spontaneous. They need limit-setting so they can be carefree yet contained. Children who were either too restricted or had no limits at all will often grow into adulthood to be either very rigid and uptight or the polar opposite uncontained and out of control.
As you can see, there is a direct correlation between the evolving nature of a child and the core issues. Depending on how they were nurtured in their developing years, symptoms of dysfunction as an adult in either extreme usually point to the core issues they need to heal.
This is the concept that Pia Melody used to call codependency, but more recently calls “ Developmental Immaturity.” Adequate nurturing in these core areas will give children the stability and anchoring they need to live healthy and functional lives later on, as adults. And just as our bodies would be compromised if we were malnourished nutritionally, so too, our development becomes stunted when our core nature is not nourished. We will continue to grow physically into adults, but any core area that was undernourished in childhood will impact our ability to be a thriving Functional Adult. Our developmental age will vary, depending on where it got stuck back then. This is the reason we see the growing phenomenon of “immature adults” — adults that are playing the part of adulthood, yet in reality can be emotionally handicapped and compromised.
As Functional Adults, these fundamental concepts may not seem complicated to know or learn. We know that our value is non-negotiable and our self-worth is ours to keep, and that no one should ever be able to take it away. We also know that it’s functional to use boundaries instead of walls, and unhealthy not to have any boundaries. Our Functional Adult displays a real sense of self by being grounded in reality and knowing our thoughts and feelings. As a healthy Functional Adult, we’re able to take care of our needs independently and have a healthy dose of interdependence. Lastly, we strive to live with moderation and balance in all things.
Why, then, is it that so many of us are walking around knowing we have value but not feeling our value from inside out? Why is it that we understand the concept of boundaries but don’t use them well enough? How is it that we can lose our sense of self to others’ thoughts when we know somewhere in our gut what the truth is? Anyone can list what we need to do for our self-care, yet it’s a daily struggle for most of us to actually follow through. And balance?! Isn’t that the magical place we all want to be?
The answers really lie within neuroscience. The frontal cortex of our brain and the Functional Adult part of our mind know it, but the limbic system, the part of the brain that’s in charge of our emotions, does not. If we did not experience our preciousness and the feeling of being cherished and valued in our growing years, those memories won’t be stored anywhere in our brains and bodies. The good news is that today we can fill in those gaps and make those repairs happen one neurological pathway at a time.
(Who ever said you can’t go back in time and change what happened?! :))
Stay tuned for forthcoming articles on how our Functional Adult meets its inner child face to face and develops the relationship necessary to heal old wounds. Each core issue will be explored separately and thoroughly from the child’s perspective.