One of the ways you can create your own secure base internally and heal from the experience of having an insecure external home base in your mother as a child is through connecting with a powerful part of the self, called the inner child.
The concept of the inner child comes from transactional analysis, which developed out of psychoanalytic theory. In this model the inner child is part of us which holds the memories, good and bad, of childhood. As adults, when we don’t get our own way, and we suddenly find ourselves storming out of the house and behaving like a 3-year-old, that is because the 3-year-old part of us has been triggered and is responding as a 3-year-old would.
The inner child is not an annoying part of us to be suppressed and pushed away because when it shows up it derails your life. If your inner child is being triggered and reacting, that is part of your psyche crying out for healing. The inner child is incredibly creative, spontaneous and fun. The more we work with the inner child, the happier, more centred and safer we feel.
We start to create our own secure base. This is done through a process of connecting with the inner child and their emotions and thoughts and creating a loving relationship as well as a dialogue with them. You can imagine the inner child as a frozen part of your psyche that experienced things you were simply not able to process at that age. As an adult you can de-frost that part of yourself slowly and integrate the things that happened.
Your current adult self becomes the functional adult, who is able to love and care for your child in a way your biological mother couldn’t. This is called “reparenting”, and in the process you create a secure base in the form of your current adult self.
Working with your inner child allows your past to be validated and creates space for you to see your behaviours as normal given the circumstances you were in at the time and the resources you had available. The behaviours that developed are probably not serving you as an adult. Over time, you can learn to change the inner dialogue and learned behaviours that kept you safe in the past by:
- Questioning the reason for the negative ideas
- Thinking of other explanations for people’s behaviour
- Consciously changing the scripts you have created about yourself, others and the world.
- Giving yourself lots of positive self-talk and encouragement.
I have been doing this work myself for many years and have had amazing results myself and with clients. It IS possible to develop ‘secure attachment’, the process starts internally. As we change our internal relationship with different parts of ourselves our intimate relationships begin to change too. It’s an incredible healing journey!
Some wonderful Inner Child resources are:
*Bradshaw, J. (1990). Home Coming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child. New York: Bantam Books.
*Capacchione, L. (1991). Recovery of Your Inner Child: The highly acclaimed method for liberating your inner self. New York: Simon & Schuster.
*Whitfield, C. L. (2006). The Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. Florida: Health Communications, Inc.