Do you talk to yourself in a way that you won’t allow anyone else to? Are you critical or mean to the part of yourself that feels weak or scared? Most people acknowledge their “inner child” or understand the concept. Could your words and attitudes toward your weaknesses be considered inner child abuse?
Monday I released the latest episode of The Deepening Place Podcast. In it, I said that Internal Family Systems Therapy or IFS, has been one of my guideposts. The greatest benefit I’ve found from IFS is learning how to love myself; learning how to be compassionate toward my weaknesses and fear.
I used to regularly say to myself,
“What is wrong with you?”
“How could you be so stupid?”
“What were you thinking?!”
“Why did you say that? Ugh, that was so dumb.”
With knowledge, learning about parts, understanding that I can be a good Self manager, and lots of practice, I have changed my relationship with myself. Now, it’s hard to imagine speaking to myself that way.
That’s why today when I saw a post from a men’s coach telling others how he motivated himself to get off the couch and into the gym, what he said to himself, it felt like a punch in the gut. I was so sad for his inner child.
“Limp dick, beta ass bitch. F-ing fat ass fraud…” it went on and on; “lazy ass, fake ass alpha. Scared little boy…”
Who do you allow to speak to you like this?
Who would you allow to speak to your child like this?
Who deserves to be spoken to like this?
I hope your answer is no one.
Why do we think it’s ok to talk to ourselves this way?
From Internal Family Systems Therapy I learned that we have manager parts (inner critic) that pop up to protect our weak and vulnerable parts (inner child). These manager parts often take on the voice of a critical parent, coach or teacher. This inner critic berates the inner child in an attempt to protect him.
In an abusive home for example, the child’s manager part was formed to protect him and might say, “shut up you little idiot, you’re always making so much noise” because making noise is the trigger that sends the abusive parent into a rage. And if the abusive parent goes into a rage, he or she might say, “shut up you little idiot, you’re always making so much noise.”
It doesn’t have to be an abusive situation though, this critic may have formed after you’d been embarrassed, shamed, or heart-broken in order to protect you from experiencing those awful feelings again.
The internal dialogue continues throughout life, it’s been programmed in.
On the last episode of the Mission Manhood Podcast, I spoke with Dr. Trevor Wilkins about childhood trauma. Getting help “debugging” this programming is an important step toward learning to love and having compassion for yourself.
Why is this important?
Dr. Wilkins uses Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) to help patients who suffer from the effects of trauma. He says it’s not always the “big T” traumas like going to war that cause people to suffer. Factors from your environment or upbringing can lead to things like not being able to control your temper or having chronic stomach issues.
There is hope and help for you if you recognize yourself in this. One of the things I’ve discovered though is that people feel embarrassed to believe that their life issue could be considered trauma based on what other people have endured. Another reason they may resist is that they don’t trust themselves to be productive or to keep going without the criticism.
Consider this: if your inner child was an actual child and people could hear the worst of what you say to him or her would you be in danger of losing custody?
This was the sales pitch at the end of the coach’s post:
“ARE YOU HIDING BEHIND FAT, FRUSTRATIONS, AND A F@#$ YOU ATTITUDE LIKE A LITTLE BITCH?”
Your scared little child deserves better.