We all have heard of the inner child but what isn’t talked about enough is the inner parent. Healing from the your childhood wounds is difficult, but not impossible. We have to remember that even if our parents (or other caregivers) weren’t there in the ways we needed, as adults we have more control over our environment and how we cope with our troubles. I made a post about connecting with your inner child. This post is about connecting with your inner parent.
Sometimes we have to look at ourselves from the outside to really acknowledge our behaviors. Think of the ways you tend to “act out” or what behaviors are rooted in defense/coping mechanisms. Which behaviors are childlike? When you start to feel yourself engage in these behaviors, you have to realize that’s the wounded child. That’s not really you. You now have to be the parent and guide that wounded child.
For example: if you’re having a disagreement with someone, you might have trouble listening to that person’s perspective and try to talk over them or get loud in general from frustration. That stems from being shut down as a child when you tried to express yourself. Now as an adult, you get triggered if you feel like you’re not being heard and will literally get loud. It’s your inner parent’s job now to step back and realize that behavior. Your inner parent should tell the wounded child that if you’re feeling unheard, the option shouldn’t be to get louder. Try explaining your point of view in a different way. Maybe the other person isn’t understanding you. Or try listening to what they’re saying to see if there’s a way common ground can be found. If that doesn’t work, then maybe this is a situation where you explained how you felt and now you just need to walk away. Invest your energy in more productive ways.
Another example could be that you're extremely critical of yourself because your parents or caregivers put a lot of pressure on you to meet their standards. An example of re-parenting is acknowledging where you did well and not just focusing on what you wanted to do better. In areas you could've did better, don't focus on criticizing yourself, but what you can do next time to avoid the same mistakes. When you were a kid, being yelled at or punished for not meeting your parents' standards wasn't the best way to encourage you to do better while still maintaining your self esteem, so don't do the same things to yourself.
My final example would be that adults tend to want to find self worth in others even though self worth needs to be found through self. This may stem from parents not giving you enough attention, or invalidating you frequently, or just lack of affection overall. How to re-parent yourself in this situation would be questioning why you're seeking a relationship and what you expect to gain out of it. Are you doing it out of loneliness, because you want someone to validate you, or you want some to rescue you from negative feelings? In the process of parenting the wounded child, you realize that these are not good reasons to enter a relationship. This will encourage you to resolve those matters internally, instead of relying on someone else.
It’s a big task but extremely beneficial to recognize where your behaviors stem from so you can work to change them. Everyone is capable of being introspective. How would you have wanted an adult to show you how to deal with your behaviors as a child? You would probably want them to be understanding of why you were behaving that way, then you’d probably want them to validate how you feel, and lastly show you a better way to express yourself without making things worse on yourself and on others. If you continue acting on anger, jealousy, pettiness, loneliness etc then you’ll never feel better mentally. Just because you may not have had positive adult role models or you were exposed to adults who were unhealthy in dealing with their own conflicts, doesn’t mean you have to follow in that route. Change starts with you. Be the adult you needed when you were a child. It helps heal you and heals others as well.