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Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child
John Bradshaw in his
book, Home Coming asks the question,
"How do all those tender elves (the
delightfully vibrant, alive, naive, optimistic, filled-with-wonder children)
become murderers, drug addicts, physical and sexual offenders, cruel dictators,
morally degenerate politicians? How do they become the "walking wounded"?
We see them all around us; the sad, fearful, doubting, anxious, and depressed,
filled with unutterable longings. Surely this loss of our innate human potential
is the greatest tragedy of all."
How do you
convert a newborn infant into a broken person?
This wounding occurs
through a whole series of ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES which shut down our
vulnerable inner emotional core and we develop a whole series of unskillful and
harmful coping mechanisms (and deep emotional woundings) that continue with us into adulthood, unless
acknowledged and transformed. These coping mechanisms DID help us survive the
challenging experiences of childhood the best way we knew how. Now, they have
outlived their usefulness.
Dr. Vincent Felitti
from Kaiser Permanente in Southern California carried out a ACE study (Adverse
Childhood Experiences)* to explore the relationship of health risk behaviors and
disease in adulthood to the breadth of exposure of household dysfunction during
childhood. To visit the ACE website visit:
http://www.cdc.gov/ace/index.htm and the ACE Pyramid:
Seven categories of
adverse childhood experiences were studied: psychological, physical, or
sexual abuse; violence against mother; or living with household members who were
substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal, or ever imprisoned. The number of
categories of these adverse childhood experiences was then compared to measures
of adult risk behavior, health status, and disease.
Persons who had
experienced four or more categories of childhood exposure, compared to those
who had experienced none, had 4- to 12-fold increased health risks for
alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempts; a 2- to 4-fold
increase in smoking, poor self-rated health, or > 50 sexual intercourse
partners, and sexually transmitted disease; and a 1.4- to 1.6-fold increase in
physical inactivity and severe obesity.
What happens to
people as children determines what is going to happen to them as adults.
In other words,
most of what happens to us as ADULTS
is set up by
happen to us as children!
Many chronic diseases
in adults are determined decades earlier by what happens in childhood. The
EMOTIONAL experiences were an antecedent to the health risk problems as adults.
The ADULT UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS ARE:
IV Drug Use
What I heard about
this study I was AMAZED! This
described me, many of my friends, and our whole family. I finally understood WHY
we were such a "wounded bunch of adults." I finally understood why my "journey
out of the past" was SO difficult. It was SO VALUABLE to me when I
made the choice to seek out outside assistance to help me unravel my numerous
self-destructive mental, emotional, and physical patterns that I had created. I
felt STUCK and hopeless at the time.
Learning about typical human stages of
growth, and how a DYSFUNCTIONAL ENVIRONMENT wounds a vulnerable child, and coming to understand
the effects, was emotionally freeing. I WASN'T FLAWED! I was just CONDITIONED to
have certain response patterns which could be changed.
I used a series of TOOLS to help me begin changing.
What are some tools
to use so you can stumble over your triggers and coping mechanisms and bring
about inner healing?
Start writing and notice the content of your brain. See what comes
out--follow a stream of consciousness. PAY ATTENTION! THE SOLUTION IS IN THE
AWARENESS ITSELF. Awareness promotes action with insight.
Don't rush into
making immediate changes. Just notice what your patterns of thoughts,
emotions or moods, and physical actions are. Notice how people, places, and
substances influence you now.
Take the time to
explore resources (see resources and links below) that
help you understand
how your initial life experiences might have impeded your normal development, and
how they are influencing you now, and what you can do to initiate changes to
learn new behaviors.
Bob's Story--The Roots Parable. To
change, you must learn to
become a loving caregiver to your inner emotional
self. You must learn how to nurture yourself.
Shine The Light of Self-Care on Yourself to Transform
the time to work with the
STAGES OF CHANGE process.
Do it your way. Do
what works for you!
it some thought to:
Therapeutic Help for Your Journey
To read an
excellent article by
Wylie about this topic: As-the-twig-is-bent-ACE STUDY.pdf
Wylie, Ph.D., is the senior editor of the
Show the Process of Reclaiming and Championing myself at Different Stages of
Bradshaw guides a
person through this process in his book.
on the thumbnail to see a larger image.)
Baby Bob, Brother Dave, and Grandmother
Notice the deep affection and caring of mother and grandmother.
Learning How To Champion Little Bobbie
Little Bobbie lets "BIG Bob" know what he needs and wants.
Bobbie out exploring the world with help of mother and father
School Age Bob - Kindergarden
Bob on far right having FUN during Holoween time
Bob at 9 Years Old
See mom. My tooth! I'm waiting for the tooth ferry.
I read through and
followed the suggestions in the book and found it to be extremely helpful. See
below the links to other sections of this web site and my story for how I worked
through this difficult and FREEING process.
Resources and Links
teachers, caretakers, explore: VICARIOUS TRAUMA: BEARING WITNESS TO ANOTHER'S
TRAUMA leaves deep emotional residues in our psyche. Check it out at:
Healthy Mental States, Self-Nurturing, and Self- Esteem
From Library Journal
The authors, both cognitive psychotherapists, identify 11 common "lifetraps,"
which they define as repetitive, destructive behavior patterns
associated with a negative self-image. Using illustrations from case
studies, the authors describe each lifetrap, discuss its origins in
childhood experience, and provide a questionnaire for self-assessment.
They then offer a
program for change using techniques ranging from experiential (getting
in touch with your inner child) to cognitive (writing a "case" against
your lifetrap) and behavioral (identifying specific behaviors to be
changed). - Lucille
Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal. Available at:
Can Heal Your Life is a beautifully written and illustrated book dealing with
self-discovery. It is a stepping stone in finding the real person you are and
exploring ways that will lead to a more peaceful and happy life. Often, we are
our own worst enemies with imaginary fears of what the future will bring, or we
are dwellers of our past mistakes, regrets and misgivings. The importance of
discovering and accepting our true self for who we really are, and the search
for a more fulfilling life, are explored among the pages of this book. I used
this book extensively and found it to be quite amazing and really helpful. Check
Celebrate Your Self - Making Life Work For You
(Your Child's Self Esteem), by Dorothy Corkille Briggs, (1986), Main
Street Books. I
found this book to be really helpful. I read both of these books
extensively. They were wonderful. They helped me understand why I hated
myself and how I could begin to change. They are also available used for
very reasonable prices.
Changing from the Inside
Out: Skills for Resolving Emotional Eating,
a workbook and class (if you are in the
Portland, Oregon metropolitan area). Goals for the
class and workbook: Explore the emotional aspects of your weight;
Identify personal needs and how to meet these needs; Set realistic
expectations; Appreciate & care for your body; Improve overall self-care;
Practice eating for health & pleasure; and Create a fulfilling lifestyle.
The workbook can be purchased individually for $20. It is EXCELLENT. Call or
contact Christine Jensen, RD, Ph.D., individual and small group counseling,
8140 SW 146th Terrace, Beaverton, OR 97007, 503-641-9136,
Learning To Love Your Self,
by Gay Hendricks, (1982),
Prentice Hall Press, New York
Morsels For Your Creative Soul,
& The Bodacious Book of Succulence by SARK (1994), Celestial
Arts, Berkeley, California. For a catalog, call: (800) 841-BOOK.
These books (and
SARK'S Web site) are SO MUCH FUN
and are delightfully
at Plantet SARK!
by Matthew McKay, PH.D. & Patrick Fanning, (2000), New Harbinger
What To Say When You Talk To Your Self,
Shad Helmstetter, (1990), Pocket Books.
This book in very practical and understandable terms helps unravel the
mystery of how self-talk creates our inner conditioning which creates our
success or our failures. Check it out! Available used.
Healing from Depression:
12 Weeks to a Better Mood, by Douglas
Bloch, M.A., (2002), Celestial Arts Publishers,
www.healingfromdepression.com See Ecosystem
Weight Management for a description of book.
You Can Be Happy No Matter What: Five
Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective, by Richard Carlson,
Ph.D., (1997), New World Library. Richard shares
PRINCIPLES ABOUT: of thoughts, about moods, of separate realities, of
feelings, and of the present moment. He helps the reader create more
effective relationships, understand stress, and solve problems in life to
increase happiness and reduce addictive behaviors. Provides a "checklist for
The Feeling Good Handbook, by
David Burns, M.D., (1999), a Plume Book. David shows
you how to overcome depression, conquer anxiety, and enjoy greater intimacy.
Provides methods to diagnose your moods and understand them, and apply 4
steps to happiness. Includes a comprehensive discussion of mood-altering
and Championing Your Inner Child, by John Bradshaw, (1992), Bantam Books.
Excellent, practical, helpful book on learning to
embrace your inner emotional self.
The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook,
by Martha Davis and Mathew McKay, (2002), New Harbinger Publication,
Gives the medical basis of stress, depression,
anxiety, sleep problems, and drug use—explained in a fun, easy-to-read
Self Parenting-The Complete Guide To Your
Inner Conversations, by Dr.
John K. Pollard, III, (1987), Generic Human Studies Publishing
This book includes lots of fun pictures and explores
terrific journaling techniques to explore connecting with your inner
emotional self and changing the "feeling tone" of your relationship with
Women’s Comfort Book,
by Jennifer Louden, (1992),
Harper-Collins, NY This book is GREAT! It provides
hundreds of suggestions on how to care for ourselves. Examples: get silly!,
play? who me? how?, comfort cards to supply dollops of delight, body
delights, nutritional music, spirit succor, and an alphabetical guide of
"comfort at a glance". Oh, what FUN!
resource is the book The Life Organizer:
Helpful sections of this Web site:
See Bob's Story for For ideas on how I GRADUALLY applied
the AMAZING WISDOM that is contained in the resources above. Check out:
To help TAKE CHARGE of this pattern, explore:
*Am J Preventative
Medicine 1998:14 (4) Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction
to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults. Vincent J. Felitti, MD, FACP,
Robert F. Anada, MD, MS, Dale Nordenberg, MD. David F. Williamson. MS. PhD,
Alison M. Spitz, MS, MPH, Valerie Edwards, BA, Mary P. Koss, PhD, James S.
Marks, MD, MPH