The Empathy Foundation Network

Growing empathy for a peaceful world

Welcoming the Pain of the Inner Child - and at last growing up!

My inner child is in pain today - and I'm glad! I have an exciting project and opportunity for the Empathy Foundation on my plate - and what happens? My old scars from school project days are stirred up and I feel the pain, loneliness, shame and sadness my 10 year old self felt when the dreaded "project" word was used. My resistance is huge - it feels far to dangerous to work on this!

At first the resistance and pain I felt about this great opportunity was incomprehensible. Then I remembered the "Inner Child Process" that we learned at the Parenting Heart to Heart training which the Empathy Foundation hosted Robin Grille last year.

So, I asked myself:

"When have I felt like this before?" and wham, I was back there, in the fear and pain of my Year 7 project that at 10 years old I didn't know how to do and I felt I couldn't ask for help with, because to do so would revel my stupidity and inadequacy and fill me with shame. That sounds idiotic! How come it was so traumatic? How come I felt it was so dangerous to ask for help? That's what I find so interesting. That as a child I felt so identified with my 'intelligence' that I felt I risked overwhelming shame, and annihilation of my sense of self, if I simply asked for help, so I battled on alone, full of dread for weeks sometimes, as the due date for the project drew inexorably closer and my inadequacy would be exposed . The sad thing was that I almost always somehow pulled out some action at the last gasp and did an "adequate job" of the projects - and that disappointed everyone! They and I knew that there was much more inside me and I could never get it out. I also couldn't let myself fail completely. I say sadly, because maybe if I had allowed myself to risk failure, someone would have noticed the misery I was in and asked me why.

Despite the pain, it feels so good to see this pattern now and to be able to support this wounded little child inside me and allow her to express her pain and grief. Now that I can feel empathy for her and give her feelings space to arise and pass through, she can open up and admit her need for help, without shame, and thus allow growth. As the child within becomes calmer and able to hear the truth - that it's fine and necessary to ask for help with projects because that is the point of them, to grow and learn new things, it becomes more possible for the adult me to welcome and embrace projects that I "don't know how to do". And of course then I discover that far from being alone, I am surrounded by wonderful people willing to help, once I am able to let them in.

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Tags: inner_child, letting_go, procrastination, releasing_fear, resistance

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