How do I grow up inside
'Inner Child' and 'Inner Adult'
From 'child-adult' to 'adult-adult'
In addition to the current information about the workshop program, the aim of the info letters "ZENtrum aktuell" is to introduce authors and their publications whose topics are closely linked to the spirit and goals of the ZENtrum as well as to those of my book "Living Life" are. This annex relates to the topic of 'Inner Child' with an additional focus on 'Inner Adult'
In order to develop as a person, you have to really be an adult first. Very often after an 'Inner Child' workshop I have heard participants say that they have realized that their real problem is not their 'Inner Child', but that it is the 'Inner Adult' - who is hardly there. If one is predominantly identified with the 'inner child', one does not even know that this 'inner adult' can also exist. What it means to live one's life from the consciousness of a truly adult person is illustrated below.
The way to the 'Inner Adult'
The 'inner adult' is able to take responsibility for his happiness and satisfaction in life himself. That makes him independent of the benevolence of others. It is not easy to get there because basic needs for affirmation, love and recognition were often not met in childhood. These unmet needs then became an adult need because these unmet needs are supposed to be met by other people.
However, this usually leads to constant disappointment, because even now these needs are not met in the long term. When a relationship comes to an end for this reason, these people often hear "You should take care of your 'inner child' a little more", which means nothing other than to finally take responsibility for the happiness in his or her life. In other words, giving yourself what you want or expect from others. Giving this to your 'inner child' yourself now as an adult makes it a little easier because you create a counterpart, the inner child that still exists in us. One can build a relationship with this Inner Child as with one's real children that is characterized by compassion and love. Then the belief that you are selfish if you do something good for yourself is overcome.
For this, however, it is necessary that there really is such an 'inner adult' who can take on this responsibility for the well-being of his 'inner child'. If it does not exist or is insufficiently available, it must be developed. And that means developing into an adult who is independent and therefore free inside. The first step on this path is to become aware of when you are identified with your 'Inner Child'. When that is recognized, one can identify with this 'Inner Adult'.
But how do you know when you are identified with this 'Inner Child'?
A person who primarily identifies with his or her 'inner child' is what I refer to as a 'child-adult'. The 'child-adult' therefore has difficulties in taking responsibility for his or her own life because he is afraid of criticism if he makes mistakes, has made mistakes or, in the opinion of others, made wrong decisions or simply did not meet the expectations of others Has.
Most of the time he has no contact with his own needs either. He doesn't know what he really wants, what his desires are, because he is too fixated on the needs of others and their expectations. He receives gratitude and benevolence for fulfilling the expectations of others, which he does not want to endanger. He can hardly endure the opposite: rejection, withdrawal of love, resentment, being rejected or abandoned, because these are the experiences that the Inner Child has had very often that it does not want to experience again.
The 'child-adult' is also not really aware that he has a will. "You have nothing to want", was conveyed to the 'Inner Child' in many ways. The consequence of this is that you believe you have no real choice between saying yes and no. You mostly did what others wanted and thereby received the affection and benevolence of others.
Love had to be earned through behavior. For the most part, it was always linked to conditions. Only when you met the conditions could you expect to be liked, to be loved. It was inconceivable that one could be loved without fulfilling the expectations and conditions of others. So you never or rarely found out that you could be loved without having to meet conditions.
In order to develop an 'inner adult' who can then take responsibility for the needs of the inner child, one has to know what distinguishes the adult from the child, what makes a real adult, which criteria and qualities belong to it. Below are these criteria.
Being able to take responsibility for one's actions is the most important criterion that distinguishes an adult from a child. In English, responsibility means "responsibility". That means the ability to give an answer. This skill has to be developed gradually.
The term responsibility is not very popular because it goes hand in hand with the fear that if you make the wrong decision, you will be criticized. This criticism is also perceived with withdrawal of love. That was the child's experience. Taking responsibility therefore requires allowing oneself to make mistakes. This is part of a learning process. If the decision or the behavior did not lead to the desired result, you learn to behave differently the next time. This can lead to the fact that criticism can not only be endured, but, if it is constructive and not hurtful, can be accepted as something positive. If criticism wants to hurt, you don't even need to be aware of it.
You can only take responsibility if you are aware of what you are saying and what you are doing. The opposite is to act out of your conditioning and react unconsciously. "Father, forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing," a saying from Jesus that makes this clear.
The second important criterion that distinguishes an adult from a child is independence. As a child, you depend on the care of others in order to survive. There are two types of independence; once material independence and then emotional independence. Only those who free themselves from these addictions qualify as a real adult.
I often hear the question of whether it is even possible to be emotionally independent. In order to answer this question, one has to distinguish between something essential. Everyone has needs for love, affection, and recognition. This is perfectly fine. If they are fulfilled, one is happy, if not, one learns to accept them too. Another thing is neediness. You need something to be fine. But this need is addictive. If you feel the need for a beer or a glass of wine, that's fine. But if you need alcohol to feel good, you are an alcoholic, an addict. But this need for confirmation, love and recognition is an addiction because you feel bad when you are denied this, especially by someone close to you. As mentioned before, such relationships are endangered by the high demands of a partner and often do not last very long. One speaks here of clinging to a person.
"Love is a child of freedom" is the title of the neurologist and brain researcher Gerald Hüther. He makes it clear in this book that love out of need, which is connected with addiction, is not really love. Love then becomes a barter. You give me what I need and I will give you what you need. If that doesn't happen, you're angry. But that is not love. Only those who are free inside can love unconditionally. That is the conclusion that is also expressed in the title of this book and, of course, in its content.
Only when that is the case are you really capable of loving. And this is therefore a further criterion for a real adult, the ability to love, which no longer needs to be explained further. It is closely related to the next criterion.
Well developed will
What is a well-developed will? A well-developed will is more than a strong will. Roberto Assagioli, the founder of the psychospiritual model of psychosynthesis, assumed three dimensions for a well-developed will:
- A strong will that needs the energy and strength needed to implement a project.
- A skillful will that is important for planning a project. For this, the understanding, experience and knowledge are necessary in order to meaningfully plan a path to a certain goal.
- A good will that presupposes a certain basic attitude of a person, and that is an attitude of consciousness of connectedness. This connection applies both to oneself, to the environment, to humans, and to creatures and nature. This consciousness of connectedness overcomes an awareness based on egocentrism that only wants to meet one's own needs and makes everything else into objects that one can use for one's goals. This goes hand in hand with lovelessness, recklessness and manipulation.
In our culture, will is predominantly associated with strength and power. Therefore, it has a mostly bad reputation. The strong-willed can go through the wall with his head. Assagioli has created a new definition with these three dimensions as components of a well-developed will from the shadow of the ego consciousness with the abuse of a powerful will. For the development of a strong personality, a person who has to master the challenges of life, Assagioli considered such a will to be absolutely necessary. But it presupposes the ability to love described above and thus the overcoming of egoism.
The 'Inner Adult' and the 'Inner Child'
When one develops an 'Inner Adult' based on these essential criteria that make up an adult, one has created a counterpart for the 'Inner Child' who now has someone whose unfulfilled needs (in childhood) can be met. If these needs are also met by other people, by a loving partner, that is something very nice. One can enjoy this even more when one can enjoy them without fear of loss. It can be a relationship between two inwardly free people who can give each other love without having to meet any conditions.
This process of building a relationship with your 'Inner Child' takes time. The prerequisite is that you meet this child with a lot of compassion and understanding. Above all, this can be done by taking the time to "talk" to this Inner Child again and again, to have a dialogue with him, to ask him questions and to listen when he answers. At the end of an "Inner Child" workshop, each participant leads this dialogue. Before doing this, you try to imagine a picture of the child you once were and then come into contact with him.
Tears often flow during this dialogue because this encounter can be very touching and moving. For this practice it can be very helpful to have a real picture of the child you once were. If that is difficult, a photo of the child that you put in their environment can also help.
A mother once said to me after a workshop, "I'm going home with three children now, because my inner child is now joining my two own children."
If you can actually accept and love this Inner Child like a biological child, then a great deal can change in life. This Inner Child is now getting what it has always longed for: confirmation, love and recognition. It is perceived and its desires and needs are met as far as possible. The development of such a relationship leads to independence from others, because what one always wanted from others, one can now give to oneself.
The relationships in a partnership change very decisively through this independence. One no longer meets the other out of this need and thus has less fear of loss, if at all. One can also endure when the other person does not always happily agree to everything that one has decided to do for himself. You no longer accuse, but talk about your feelings that arise through the behavior of the other. In such a relationship you also learn to perceive the vulnerability of the inner child in the other person, which in turn can lead to more closeness and compassion in a relationship.
Conclusion: The 'inner child' needs an 'inner adult' who is really grown up, whom they can trust because they take responsibility for their well-being and also protect them from harm to others. It then experiences what it has always longed for, to be noticed and loved unconditionally.
More about working with the 'Inner Child':
This topic of 'finally growing up' will be featured in the first part of the book I have written, 'Living Life!' dealt with in detail.
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