Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are, or why you do some of the things you do? There are many theoretical models and research that aim to answer these questions, but in short, it’s because we are the sum total of our experiences. What and how we experience things determine who we are, and it starts the day we enter the world. When we are infants, we are completely dependent on the adult caretakers in our lives for all our developmental dependency needs, and at a primal level our survival. Think about it, what can an infant do for him or herself? As infants we can’t fend for ourselves, we can’t feed ourselves, we can’t change our own diapers, and we certainly can’t pay any bills. This means that our survival literally depends on the adults who are meant to take care of us, and this is where the learning begins. This is when who we are and how we are to be is formed.
We learn how to respond to ourselves, others, and the world based on how our caregivers respond to us. They are our models, our teachers, and they lay the foundation for all our future interactions and relationships. Much of who we are comes from the response or lack of response from our caregivers and important people in our lives. For example, if a baby is crying because they are hungry, or wet, or sleepy, the response from their care givers teach them a valuable lesson about themselves in that moment. If the caregiver responds by being attentive to the child and meeting the need in the moment, the child can learn that they are loved, worthy, and important. On the flip side, if the caregiver doesn’t respond the child can learn that they are unworthy, unlovable, and unimportant. When we are helpless and defenseless infants it is crucial to our development that our needs be met. Think about a 3-month-old baby laying there crying, hungry, in need of a diaper change and no one responds to him or her. What message is that baby being sent? What does that do to a development of a healthy sense of self? That baby maybe taught that he or she isn’t important enough to be responded to, to be loved, and to be taken care of properly. That is very damaging to our sense of self, our healthy development, and our souls. It arrests our development and leaves a big void within us that we sometimes aim to fill with destructive behaviors. This has the ability to stay with us forever if it goes unchecked.
When we have early experiences that teach us that we are unlovable we tend to hold onto that experience, and it shapes who we are. A lot of times we then unconsciously seek further experiences to reinforce that core belief that we are unlovable. The opposite is also true when our needs are being met and we carry that message with us as well. We create core beliefs based on our experiences and those core beliefs govern our lives. A core belief is just a thought, however it is a deeply held thought that we believe to be true, unless and until we learn to challenge those beliefs. Core beliefs are consequences of our experiences and most of our core beliefs develop in childhood. But the thing is we could have developed a core belief when we were five years old, and that’s why it’s important to challenge our core beliefs. While the belief may have been true for the 5-year-old, is it now true for the 30 or 40 year old? When our core beliefs go unexamined the person who created the belief is running the show, which means that there is a 5-year-old masquerading as a 30-year-old.
No matter what type of family we come from, how much or little money we have, none of us are exempt from experiencing childhood wounds. We are all raised by flawed human beings because humans are flawed by design, and those flaws lead to our wounds. It’s important to know that our caregivers, are always doing the best they can with what they have at the time. Their mishaps are not a demonstration of their lack of love for us. They are probably just as wounded as we are, and until the wounds are healed, we will continue to have wounded children raising other wounded children. There is a wounded inner child in each one of us and that wounded inner child is running our life. It’s that child who gets triggered when we don’t get what we want, or our needs met. It’s that child who keep finding themselves in failed relationship after failed relationship, because that’s their way of trying to get it right. They are trying to have a corrective experience and prove that they are lovable, worthy, and important.
“She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.”
― H. Raven Rose, Shadow Selves: Double Happiness
So, it’s not that our childhood is affecting our life, it’s that we are that child. That child goes no where until we rescue him or her. That child will continue to wreak havoc on our lives and sabotage what we say is important until we give him or her what we want. The healing of our wounded inner child is our responsibility because we are the only ones who knows that child still exist. It’s as if there are toddlers wearing adult bodies as costumes. Imagine a toddler trying to be in an adult relationship, image a toddler trying to manage adult responsibilities. Its an impossibility. We must honor our wounded inner child and give them what they want, which is to be loved, feel important and know they are valuable. The healing of our wounded inner child lies in us learning to reparent ourselves. We are the only ones who know what we truly need and want, and we must learn to give it ourselves. We must learn to break the pattern, because we learn how to treat ourselves based on the way we were treated. We punish ourselves the way we were punished, we shame ourselves the way we were shamed. Part of the healing process is learning to interrupt the old patterns and learning to love ourselves as whole, complete, and perfect beings, because at our core that’s who we are. We are all worthy, lovable, and important, some of us forgot this and our wounded inner child requires us to relearn this lesson. You matter because you are here.