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Are you a Captive of a Wounded Inner Child?

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

By Andy Tomlinson

I’ve long been amazed how traumas from childhood can cause life changing emotional and relationship issues, and when the wound is healed a dramatically quick transformation takes place. Coping behaviours that are adopted at the time of the trauma are carried into adulthood as repetitive behaviours and most people are not aware of them. In this article you can discover which inner child coping behaviour you can identify with.  Most of a person’s identity is formed in the experiences in the early years of childhood until the age of around seven. Sometimes these experiences are unpleasant and can overwhelm the ability of the child to cope. The emotional wound is often pushed below the level of conscious awareness to the subconscious to prevent the child from being overwhelmed. Coping behaviours that are adopted at the time are carried into adulthood as repetitive behaviours. What seems to be common in all these wounds is the absence of love at the time and the strong emotions like terror, powerlessness, worthlessness, shame, with some coming from being sexually or physically abused. As a psychotherapist and psychologist specialising in inner child and regression therapy I’ve passed this skill and knowledge to now to over 500 therapists worldwide through inner child and regression training. (link to The case studies use fictitious names and illustrated how the wound was created. To find out more how inner child therapy works there is a chapter in the inner child and past life book (link to that I edited called Transforming the Eternal Soul. See which inner child coping behaviour you can identify with.  The Pleaser   Coping Behaviour - I suppress my feelings so that everyone feels all right. If I please people, they will like me. Later in life I don’t value myself and will do anything for a quiet life and often feel guilty. I can only relax when everyone has everything they want. Case study - When Joan was young her father a self-employed dock worker was only paid for the days he was offered work. Often he would go for weeks without work. When he did work it was hard manual labour and he drank heavily. When he arrived home drunk he looked for someone to take out his frustrations so little Joan quickly learnt to be quiet and do what ever she could to be a ‘good girl’. Often she would mind read a situation and anticipate what would happen to avoid trouble. She married an emotional abuse husband and although he had his own company she was given very little money for housekeeping or support in bringing up the family and the pleasing pattern continued. After she left this relationship she did everything she could to please her now grown up sons and would spend weeks making special cakes or special meals for family gatherings. If her efforts were not appreciated she would burst into tears, as appreciated was her way of getting love. The Achiever  Coping Behaviour - I try harder and harder to prove to my parents that I am good enough to be loved. I always hear a voice saying “You could have done better”. Later in life I am a workaholic and overstressed. If I don’t have success it means I have failed and won’t be loved. Case study - Hanify was a high flier in industry. He graduating with a first class degree, he was head hunted by a major computer company and did a research project in a year quicker than expected and awarded outstanding new employee of the year. He went on to manage 200 of the words top scientists in Paris in a multimedia research lab. He was then head hunted by a 200 million dollar turnover computer company to be their CEO. He often only slept for 4 hours a day because there was so much to do. When Hanify was child his father was a surgeon in Egypt who had worked his way from poverty. He regularly integrated Hanify how he was doing at school in front of the family and left humiliated and unloved. Today the trauma of Hanify’s little child was still trying to get love from his father by achieving success, but nothing was every enough. The Rebel  Coping Behaviour - The only way I got attention as a child was by doing something naughty and by making a fuss. This meant trouble but at least they gave me attention. Later in life I like to shock and I often get angry. Usually it is because I am not getting any attention or people won’t do what I want them to do. Case Study - While Brian was a young child his father worked shifts and the household had to be quiet when he slept. His father never adjusted to shift work and was always tied and irritable, and never had the time little Brian needed. There was one traumatic time when was locked under the stairs in the dark and left as a punishment. Brian screamed the house down and his father realising the effect of his action release Brian and hugged him. For Brian this was the start of a pattern of being a rebel when confronted with someone trying to control him. The Victim  Coping Behaviour - I get attention when I cry and tell mum that someone has hurt me or I don’t feel well. If I cry enough I will get some love. Later in life it’s the fault of the government or someone else. I can’t take responsibility for my life because if I do, no one will look after me. It’s always someone else’s fault when things go wrong in my life. Case Study - Linda regressed to a time where her father was sexually abusing her at the age of seven. At the time her mind left her body and went and sat on the stairs outside the bedroom each time it happened. She even grew up to call her adult-self ‘Lynne’ as she couldn’t or wouldn’t associate herself with the younger part of her that had, in her mind, allowed the abuse to happen. She had a powerful belief not only that men would abuse her in some way, but also that abuse was the only way she could experience love. This belief became a part of Lynne as she grew up. She was abused repeatedly by many men during her childhood and throughout her younger life, and even married a man who sexually abused her every day during their 25-year marriage. The Rationaliser  Coping Behaviour - I live in my head because it’s the safest place to be. Emotions around my family scare me because they are overwhelming. It’s safer to disconnect from my feelings and as a child never cried or got angry so I don’t know how to deal with my feelings. Later in life I cannot remember the last time I was angry or sad. Case Study – At the age of three Anne‘s mother screamed and shouted at her father as he stormed out of the house for the final time. Anne was in the lounge and her mother then shouted abuse at her, saying it was all her fault that he had left, that she was useless, and that she wished she had never been born. At school other children took great delight in teasing and bullying her, tripping her up and saying cruel and nasty things to her. Her school teacher also treated her coldly by picking on her in class and humiliating her in front of the rest of the class. These were the times she learn that emotions were a dangerous place and it was safer to avoid them and be in her head. The Rescuer Coping Behaviour – Helping others and rescuing damaged pets pleased my parents and made them love me. Later in life I like victims because I can look after their problems. That means I don’t have to pay attention to my own problems. I rescue people to make sure they are dependent on me. It makes me feel in control and needed, then I feel safe. Case Study - Johns father was a no-good alcoholic, and John took his father's place by becoming extremely close to his mother and protecting her. He married a cold emotionless wife and started to have a series of affairs. Every time he has an affair she was a mother-image in his head and getting love from her. Despite promising not to do it again with his wife the pattern continued. If you recognised one or more of these archetypes, healing the wounds of your inner child should be at the top of your priority list. It will call for bravery to go into a dark place and resolve the emotional wounds. You could consider a professionally trained inner child and regression therapist. And then you can become who really want to be free from unwanted behaviours that rationally cannot be controlled.

About the Author Andy Tomlinson is a psychologist and registered psychotherapist. He also does between lives training and spirit release training and is author of Healing the Eternal Soul and Exploring the Eternal Soul.

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