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Re-Parenting Your Inner Child

Chapter 10 Re-Parenting Your Inner Child

Growing Down - Tools for

Healing the Inner Child

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D. &

Constance M. Messina, Ph.D

What is re-parenting?

Re-parenting is:

  • Being a parent to yourself.
  • Giving yourself the nurturing, affection, and recognition you need to heal your inner child.
  • Giving yourself the guidance, direction, and self-discipline needed to gain self-control and to accept personal responsibility for your own life.
  • Letting go of self-pity over your being neglected or abused as a child and taking charge of your life.
  • Ceasing to look to others to nurture, affirm, or make you feel good, recognizing that you are the best source of self-nurturance and support.
  • Allowing yourself to become an independent person, no longer needing to be dependent on others or to have others dependent on you.
  • Creating a bond between the adult you and inner child you to give you a sense of security, self-confidence and self-worth.
  • Overcoming the shame, guilt, or self-deprecation you have towards yourself over the unfortunate history of your childhood, adolescence or young adulthood.
  • Accepting yourself the way you are in an unconditional way with no regrets or self-hatred over what you should have been.
  • Falling in love with yourself so that you are able to be more healthfully centered on self as you proceed on in life.
  • Establishing healthy boundaries between you and the others in your life.

 

What are some reasons why you might need to re-parent yourself?

If you have experienced any of the following in your lifetime, you are an excellent candidate to re-parent yourself so that you can experience growing down to healthy self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

If you were:

  • Neglected by your parents.
  • Criticized by critical parent(s) or teacher(s).
  • Physically abused by your parent(s), sibling(s) or relative(s).
  • Emotionally or verbally abused by parent(s), sibling(s), relative(s) or teacher(s).
  • Sexually abused by parent(s), sibling(s), relative(s), or non-family member.
  • Raised in a dysfunctional family where alcohol or drugs were abused or parent(s) were mentally ill.
  • A product of a single parent led family or a family where there was a divorce.
  • Ignored and left to yourself.
  • Invisible in your family.
  • Ashamed of your family life.
  • Guilty over not being able to fix your family.
  • Frustrated because no matter what you did it was never good enough.
  • Never able to get the approval you needed.
  • Lacking male nurturance from your father who was emotionally unavailable to you and are therefore male-nurturance deprived.
  • Lacking female nurturance from your mother who was emotionally unavailable to you and are therefore female-nurturance deprived.

 

What are the signs in your adulthood that you are in need of re-parenting yourself?

The following is a symptoms checklist.  In your journal write downt those item which you identify with and are mostly true for you:

 

Symptoms of Individuals Needing Re-Parenting
  1. Lacking in self-confidence in interpersonal relationships at home, work, socially, and in the community.
  2. Inability to believe you deserve good things in life.
  3. Feelings of shame about your past.
  4. Feelings of guilt about your past.
  5. Inability to have self-forgiveness for all of your real or perceived faults, mistakes, or failures in the past.
  6. Inability to affirm or say nice things to or about yourself.
  7. Dependence on others to approve you.
  8. Fear of rejection from others.
  9. Desire to be invisible so that others don't know what you are thinking, how you feel, or what you are doing.
  10. Need to please others.
  11. Need to avoid conflict at all costs.
  12. Waiting for or wanting someone to nurture and care for you to make up for the absence of nurturance in your past life.
  13. Unwillingness to accept that the solutions to your problems are your responsibility.
  14. Not capable of exercising self-control over all aspects of your life.
  15. Excessive use of manipulation to get others to do what you want them to do for you.
  16. Excessive hostility, bitterness, sarcasm, and cynicism about life and how it has treated you.
  17. Extreme pessimism about your ability to do what it takes to recover from low self-esteem.
  18. Pent-up anger, rage, and hatred against the people in your past life who have abused or neglected you.
  19. Lack of clear direction and clarity of goals in your life.
  20. Not sure of who you really are.

 

If you have identified with two or more, you are in need of re-parenting work.

 

What are re-parenting activities?

Re-parenting activities include:

  • Inner child healing
  • Child play work
  • Mirror work
  • Self-affirmations
  • Unconditional self-acceptance
  • Identification of feelings
  • Anger workouts
  • Self-forgiveness
  • Personal journal writing
  • Personal feelings log
  • Self-assertiveness
  • Accepting personal responsibility for self
  • Exercising self-control
  • Letting go of the need to control
  • Restructuring of lifestyle
  • Time management
  • Stress reduction and relaxation work
  • Goal setting
  • Physical exercise program
  • Maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle
  • Self-nurturing physically by hugging and cradling self
  • Grief and mourning work focused on letting go of past hurts, losses, and pain
  • Letting go of shame and guilt

What are the steps to implement a re-parenting program in your life?

 

Step 1: You first need to identify if you are in need of re-parenting in your life.  Use the symptoms checklist in this Chapter.  If you have two or more symptoms, you are in need of re-parenting work.  In your journal, identify all of the symptoms of the lack of healthy parenting, nurturance, unconditional acceptance, and love currently present in your life.

 

Step 2: Identify in your journal all of the unhealthy thoughts you have about yourself and your life which re-parenting can help alter.  Then identify healthy counter thoughts which are more rational and conducive to personal growth.  These are re-parenting guidance statements which you need to tell yourself.  What follows are some sample positive re-parenting statements for your negative unhealthy thoughts.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I am worthless.

Re-parenting statement:

I am a worthy person.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I'll never amount to anything.

Re-parenting statement:

I have and will continue to amount to something in life.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I can never do anything right.

Re-parenting statement:

I am a human and it is OK if I don't always do things right.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Everyone is against me.

Re-parenting statement:

I am for me and that's all that I need right now.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Why can't anyone love me for who I am?

Re-parenting statement:

I love me for who I am.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Why am I always the one who has to make the first move?

Re-parenting statement:

It's OK if I am always the one to make the first move since it ensures that I get the things I deserve, want, and are good for me.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I will never be able to do this.

Re-parenting statement:

I can do anything I commit to.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I can't succeed in anything.

Re-parenting statement:

I can succeed and be a winner in life.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I am a horrible human being.

Re-parenting statement:

I am a loveable, capable human being.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I should have known better.

Re-parenting statement:

I did the best I could knowing what I did at the time.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I should have sought out help so that they wouldn't have been able to continue to abuse me the way they did.

Re-parenting statement:

I was a kid and I deserved to be protected from the abuse and neglect I received.  But today I am an adult and need to protect myself and be responsible in all areas of my life.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Because I experienced the sensations and physical excitement, I am guilty for the act of sexual abuse committed against me.

Re-parenting statement:

Physical and sensual pleasure to the victim of sexual stimulation often results from a sexually abusive situation but this does not make the victim guilty of the act.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Because as a child I asked for or sought it out, I was responsible for it.

Re-parenting statement:

As a child I needed healthy guidance and direction from the adults in my life and because I lacked this direction I didn't know or have the strength to avoid such unhealthy or inappropriate activities.  In many cases my curiosity needed a parent's gentle guidance. Instead I was left to roam and wander, thus leading me down the hurtful paths that I took.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I should have run away instead of allowing it to happen to me.

Re-parenting statement:

When I was being victimized, I was in shock or disassociated from the event so that it was impossible to run away from it.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I must have been an awful child for them to neglect or abuse me that way.

Re-parenting statement:

They neglected and abused me because they had problems. I did not deserve the treatment I received.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I must have got what I deserved.

Re-parenting statement:

No one deserves to be abused, neglected, overly criticized, put down, or humiliated the way I was.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I was an unlovable, ungrateful, despicable child growing up.

Re-parenting statement:

I was an innocent child who was a victim of the rage, hatred, anger, and bitterness of the adults in my life.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I hate myself.

Re-parenting statement:

I love me.  I deserve my love.  I can love myself.  I will love me.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I'd rather die than go on.

Re-parenting statement:

Life is worth living.  I have a contribution to make in life which makes my life worth living.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I can't live with myself.

Re-parenting statement:

I can live with myself, I can be my best friend.  I can be the major source of nurturance in my life.  I can enjoy living by myself all alone if I need to.

 

Unhealthy thought:

If my parents couldn't love me, how can I love me?

Re-parenting statement:

My parents did the best they could, knowing what they did at the time, but I must take personal responsibility for my own life and love and care for myself in ways they never did.

 

Unhealthy thought:

No matter what I do, I'll never be able to let go of the past.

Re-parenting statement:

I am able to let go of the past through healthy anger workout which allows me to grow in self-esteem, self-forgiveness, and self-acceptance of what happened to me.

 

Unhealthy thought:

When will it be my turn to be taken care of by others?

Re-parenting statement:

I am able to care for myself and it is unhealthy for me to wait for someone else to care for and nurture me.  I am the only source of care and nurturance I need to depend upon.  I can do it!

 

Unhealthy thought:

I'm tired of taking care of everyone else.  I want someone to take care of me.

Re-parenting statement:

I don't need to care for others in order to feel good about myself.  I don't need others to need my caring and nurturance in order to feel like a whole person.  I can be a whole person by re-focusing my caring and nurturance on me.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Why do I have to be the only one I can count on to care for me?  It's not fair.

Re-parenting statement:

It is a reality of life.  Life is not fair.  There is growth for me in accepting the reality of life that I can only count on myself to be my best source of caring and nurturance.  As an adult I can be the only one who parents me.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Every time I try to solve my problems it always turns out that I am the one who has to change.  It shouldn't be this way.

Re-parenting statement:

I am the only one whom I can control and change so it is realistic that I am the real source of my problems. It is my unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and actions which need to change.  This is the way it is and I will need to accept this reality if I am to proceed in my recovery from low self-esteem.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I hate that I have to do all this on my own.  Someone else should do this for me.

Re-parenting statement:

I need to do extensive anger workouts on the reality of the need for self-reliance and self-focus in solving my problems.  Until I rid myself of this anger about this reality of life, I will be stuck in my unhealthy mode of living.  I refuse to stay stuck.  I am capable of letting go of my disappointment and I will go on and succeed in my journey of self-health.

 

Unhealthy thought:

All I want out of life is to have someone pick me up in their arms and tell me how proud they are of me.  Why can't this happen?

Re-parenting statement:

I will hug myself daily and tell myself how special I am to me.  I will feel the warmth of my hug and realize how sincere my joy in being me is.  I will daily affirm my good points and forgive my failures, mistakes, and setbacks.  I can make it happen that I am my best source of reinforcement, affirmation, and recognition of worth in life.  I am proud of me.  I can remain proud of myself.  I will be proud of myself.

 

Unhealthy thought:

Life should be more fair to me than what it has been.

Re-parenting statement:

Life is not fair.  I need to rid myself of the irrational, unhealthy, and unrealistic belief that life should have dealt with me better.  I need to get my anger out about this stark truth so that I can accept it and get on with living the real life I have left on earth.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I'm never able to tell others to stop depending on me. Why can't I depend on someone else this time?

Re-parenting statement:

I need to tell others to stop depending on me.  I need to let go of them so that they can become independent, self-sufficient, and self-reliant.  It would be healthy for me to depend on myself.  I need to depend on me for the caring, nurturance, and re-parenting I need in order to progress in my program of recovery.

 

Unhealthy thought:

I'm tired of being blamed for all my problems.  If my problems are real, then someone else should solve them for me rather than turning them back to me to solve for myself.  It's so unfair that I have to do this on my own.

Re-parenting statement:

I am the source of my own problems because of my faulty way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.  It is realistic then that I need to change my thoughts, emotions, and actions in order to rid myself of my problems.  I can change and control me to accomplish this.  I don't really need to do this on my own.  There is a source of support for me to accomplish the program of self-healing and self-recovery.  It is Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous (The SEA's Program) which is fully described in the Tools-for-Coping Series by James J. Messina, Ph.D.  In the SEA's program I have a 12-step support program and a tool box of coping mechanisms to help me transform my thoughts, emotions, and actions into realistic, reality-based and rational ones.  I need to commit myself to work my program of the 12 steps of SEA's.  I can do this work for myself.  I will do this because I deserve to be happier, healthier, and content.  I am a good person deserving to accept life the way it is rather than how I believed it should be.  I will work in SEA's to learn to live one day at a time, enjoying moment to moment so that I can be reasonably happy in the life I have ahead of me.  I can do it.  I am capable of doing it.  I will do it starting right now!

 

Step 3: Once you have identified in your journal a set of re-parenting statements for yourself, you now are ready to identify a program of re-parenting to follow on a daily basis.  To help you do this, refer to Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous SEA's Program Manual by James J. Messina, Ph.D. In Section 2 is outlined the SEA's tools for recovery.  In Section 4 is a workbook to follow the 12 steps of the SEA's program.  What follows is a sample of some activities you can include in your weekly schedule to help re-parent yourself.

  1. SEA's 12-step workbook (one hour a week).
  2. ALERT work daily to recognize the negative thinking in your life (Section 2 in the SEA's program manual).
  3. ANGER work daily to help you to accept the reality that you are the only one you can count on in life to care for and nurture you.
  4. Self-forgiveness work (daily) to help you to forgive yourself for being a human who has failed, made mistakes, and is not perfect.
  5. Letting go of shame and guilt work daily to free yourself of the sense of shame and guilt which keeps you from moving on.
  6. LET GO work daily to let go of the need to have others depend on you and the need to depend on others to solve your problems for you.
  7. Mirror work daily to grow in unconditional love and acceptance for yourself.
  8. Self-affirmations daily to reinforce your re-parenting efforts so that you are able to freely fill in the I am:, I can:, and, I will: statements.
  9. Feelings log on a daily basis to help you to stop disassociating or ignoring your feelings and to improve your ability to identify and express them.
  10. A daily journal so that you are able to chart your progress of re-parenting into recovery and healthy self-esteem.
  11. CHILD work daily to keep your inner child and Higher Power ever present in your life.
  12. Child Play work daily to assist you to lighten up and heal your inner child so that you experience the benefits of growing down.

 

Step 4: Once you have outlined in your journal a structured program of re-parenting, use this program for the next sixty days.  If you do not find that you are experiencing a renewal of self-confidence, then return to Step 1 and begin again.