I recently had a conversation with a friend about relationships, and she asked me…’Do you think we ever really change our personality as we grow older?’
My immediate reaction was ‘of course…especially if we’ve had therapy or another pathway to self-awareness’.
But instead of saying that, I pondered…knowing that despite my layers of socialisation (and years of therapy!) in certain circumstances I can quickly revert back to my ‘default’ position — and think, feel and act like I did as a child. Sullen, angry, disappointed, frustrated, empty, lonely and sad. That all too familiar painful place of waiting for things to get better.
When I shared this with my friend she thought about it and said that her core childhood feelings were of deep loneliness and disconnection — despite having a wide circle of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, a partner — and a bubbly personality.
I know from my own work as a psychotherapist that we tend to retain our Core Childhood Feelings — and that these can be like a blanket that either soothes or suffocates us.
Our sub-conscious ‘template’ is formed by the age of six — hence the validity of the quote above (which was also coined by Sigmund Freud).
In many ways we are still the seven year old child we once were. A child who is either hiding away or thrashing about inside our adult body.
It helps us to connect with our inner seven year old if we can imagine holding the hand of this child we once were — or at least imagine them standing in front or alongside us. Better still if we can then imagine embracing and hugging them… and soothing their fear, self-doubt and pain.
This reminds us of who is really doing the perceiving, filtering, thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving each day…our inner child!
Imagine the impact of this child’s reactions in road rage situations…or when we’re preparing for an important interview…or having to make a professional presentation…or most obviously when we are in conflict with our ‘nearest and dearest’. That old childhood stuff certainly thrusts itself onto centre stage then!
So we may not be seven years old any more — but our language and behaviours certainly might be.
Consider the impact of a wounded inner child acting out at work, in your relationships, and most worrying in the way you parent your children (it’s a big responsibility to do the best job we can for them — particularly before they reach the age of six).
If you suspect that your inner child is getting in your way as an adult and you want some help to fix that, then please help yourself to the free resources available from my website.
We can heal and transcend our inner child’s emotional wounds one by one. The first step is the awareness that these old wounds still exist, and how they are affecting all aspects of our lives.
When we know what we’re dealing with, and why, it makes the healing process so much easier and effective.
We can grow beyond our childhood conditioning — and even challenge that timeless quote from Aristotle…because we aren’t still seven years old after all!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharley.com — where you’ll find lots of free resources to help you to understand your own core childhood emotions, your inner child and how they are still impacting your life; and how to S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life — with Self-awareness — Education — Learning new skills — Emotional intelligence and balance — Control, clarity and choice — TRANSFORMATION!
www.maxineharleymentoring.com — helping women to FEEL better — so they can BE, DO and HAVE better!
Originally published at medium.com