What Does the Loving Adult Feel When the Inner Child is Hurting?By Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
December 31, 2006
When your loving adult is present you feel very differently from how you feel when it is not. Read this column by Phyllis Stein and learn what having a loving adult feels like.
One important thing to understand is that, for most of us, our loving adult is a new part, a new way to be. It is not the same as the part of ourselves that we have labeled our "adult." It is created by the intent to learn how to be present in a new and loving way. It is not created by condemning and pushing aside the wounded parts, the wounded child trying to be an adult. So, to create a loving adult it is essential to zoom out, or detach from what is going on inside, to start to see it without being caught up in it. This is part of what moving into the intent to learn means. We all find different ways to do that, but do it we must. If your child is in pain and you become totally overwhelmed by that pain, or judge yourself for it, there is no loving adult present, no one that can help your child. The loving adult is not overwhelmed by the child's feelings. So being able to care, without getting lost in what your child is feeling is a start, but only a start. For many years, when I had only an intellectual understanding of inner bonding, I was able to do that part, to see that my little girl was hurting and needed my help, to want to know what I was doing to cause it and even to feel empathy and compassion for her. I was able to think of things to do that might help, like not allowing someone to shame and blame me or by taking good physical care of myself or changing what I said to myself, but I did not know how to have a truly loving adult. As a result, when I tried to take loving care of my little girl, it felt better than nothing, but very incomplete.
What I had not experienced, and is fundamental to Inner Bonding, is what this new part feels when there is a real loving adult present. I was not lost in the pain, but I was feeling sort of like a mechanic trying to fix a problem. What I did not know was how to do was fill this part that wanted to help my little girl with the energy of love. I couldn't begin to do that, because I had no spiritual connection. The spiritual connection is like a socket that we can plug into and fill with love. When we choose to connect, it happens. It literally feels like filling up with something, or maybe filling up with more of it. That is why the spiritual connection, the connection to a source of love, is an absolute requirement for Inner Bonding. There needs to be a part of you that can fill up with love, so that it can help your hurting child.
A lot has been written in other columns about "how" to access this spiritual connection and that will not be the topic of this one, except to say that each of us does it in our own way. A belief in the supernatural is not required; being comfortable with the word God is not required. The only requirement is the faith that a source of the energy of love will be available to us once we remove the wounded beliefs that get in the way and the willingness and desire to experience it.
Again, the loving adult does not become overwhelmed by the child's feelings. That is a sign that the loving adult is not present. The connection with a source of love, and deep compassion and empathy for the child are what the loving adult feels when the child is in pain. More than that, the loving adult sees the deep beauty and lovability of the child, no matter what the child is feeling. The loving adult remembers that the causes for the child's pain are almost NEVER really external. We get to learn that over and over. There is a kind of Inner Bonding joke-"Oh yes, I get that all those other times that I was in so much pain, it was because of what was going on inside, but THIS time I am sure it is due to something external." We all have that one. But the truth always turns out to be that the pain is about the child's being all alone, because no one is there to help him or her, and because you are telling him or her things that are causing the pain. That "no one is there feeling" can only be healed by the presence of your loving adult. No one else can do it for you.
When you cannot access your loving adult, it is time to get help. I find that often there is a wounded teenager in charge, and it is what people are experiencing as their "adult." This part may not be overwhelmed by the child's pain, but is not able to bring love either. To access the loving adult, we may need to zoom out further to get outside this teenager. We may actually need to bring love and healing to that part before we can help the little one. The wounded teenager is sometimes a gatekeeper. He or she cannot be reasoned with or dismissed, but he or she can be helped if there is a loving adult present. Often, he or she may understand the good reasons for and the consequences of the wounded behavior more easily and be ready to let go of the job of protecting the little ones when there is a loving adult who can do it.
So, to summarize, what does the loving adult feel like? In the presence of the child's pain, or in the presence of the child's joy for that matter, the loving adult feels filled with love, feels compassion and empathy for the child and for others as well. There is a great feeling of joy in this connection and in being able to take care of the incredibly precious little one inside, even when the child is hurting. There is a great deal of joy in being able to share this love with others. The loving adult is present for, but not caught up in and overwhelmed by the child's pain or the pain of others. The loving adult passionately wants to learn to be there for the child; because the loving adult understands that the child's deepest pain is that no one was and is there. And each time the loving adult has done its job, and is connected with the loved, no longer abandoned child inside our total being expands with joy. This is the wonderful place we get to return to, more and more, as we continue to practice the gift of Inner Bonding.
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The child's eyes looked at her, big brown eyes, innocent and filled with love, a child of love. Her heart melted as she gathered him in her arms, tears in her eyes, her loneliness evaporated in the moment of unfettered connection. Today, let us allow the pure and loving Child within to shine forth, sharing love with each other.
By Dr. Margaret Paul