As the mask I wear in front of others smiles,
The bleeding child within me cries,
“I’m stuck here, can’t you see?
Trapped in your unfinished story!
Playing the same scenes again and again,
So that you may never forget the pain!
You abandoned me, and left me lonely,
Stranded here, I’m melting into the darkness slowly.
I cry for help, but you never listen to me,
You judge, and berate me, never let me be free.
You have moved on and have grown over the years,
While I never age, and keep feeding on your fears,
So now, not me, but my shadow keeps growing here,
As I prepare and arm it to be your Inner Saboteur!”
– Anuja Pathak
We are born into this world as perfect wholes, as complete beings, just the way we are. As babies and toddlers we are contented with who and how we are. We express our feelings fully without reservations, without holding back.And then experiences happen.
Our mind starts taking sides. It starts by whispering, ‘this is a pleasurable experience, I want more of it’, or by whispering, ‘no, I don’t like this, this is painful’. Our environment begins to shape our thought processes and mental conditionings.
The mind starts associating various experiences, and linking them to the different sensations in the body and the resulting feelings. It begins to create stories, assumptions and perspectives about the experiences.
Soon enough the attachment to what the mind labels as ‘pain’ and ‘pleasure’ begins. Yes, that is right, attachment to pain as well.
It is easy to be attached to ‘pleasure’ and crave more for pleasurable experiences. Few people realize that by being averse to the so-called ‘painful experiences,’ they are actually putting their focus and energy into those experiences by resisting them. As they grow and meet with more ‘painful’ experiences, their mind creates stories around these ‘painful’ experiences. These stories keep them attached to the ‘pain’. With the attachment, a significant portion of the energy within a person drains out and gets trapped in these stories. When the energy gets trapped, the person begins to feel incomplete, and imperfect. From that perfect whole which the person was born as, a significant part of the energy or aspect of the person gets subtracted when it gets stuck in the story of the ‘painful experience’ and refuses to grow up. Thus, begins the cycle of trying to achieve perfection, and completion, of trying to fill a void, which surprisingly never gets filled.
The person may keep growing physically, in physical years, yet aspects of him never grow and remain cocooned within, as an inner child or children. These inner children feel trapped, unloved and judged. They require respite from, and closure of these ‘painful experiences’. They are like clouds, which have formed in an otherwise clear sky and are waiting to rain any moment, or even become thunderclouds at any moment in a person’s life.
This analogy of the clouds came up during a metaphor therapy session I had with a child. Her mind appeared as a clear sunny sky, and suddenly in that clear sunny sky some clouds appeared and began to drift along, slowly. Her little forehead puckered, and a frown appeared on her face as she mentioned the clouds. Our unconscious minds love to speak through the language of symbols and metaphors. When I asked her what did those clouds mean to her, deep in trance, came this little wise soul’s reply, “The clouds show stories.” And slowly the stories then emerged.
Stripped of the stories, the mind becomes clear and focused again. The person’s energy levels shoot up, as the cocooned energy gets released, and all the aspects of the person becomes free, once again, to mature.
Inner children can be both wise and sabotaging. A wise inner child is usually the Divine Inner Child, and the inner child holding onto pain, or unexpressed emotions is usually what I prefer to call, the shadow inner child, or the shadow self.
It was after a troubling break in relationship with Sigmund Freud, following personal animosity and professional differences, that Carl Jung, one day, realized that he had completely lost touch with his creative self. In a state of despair, one day, suddenly he reminisced about a time when he was nine or ten years old and saw himself building, “little houses and castles using bottles to form the sides of gates and vaults.” The memories brought back a warm feeling within him.
“Aha,” Jung told himself, “there is still life in these things. The small boy is still around, and possesses a creative life which I lack.”
With the pictures still running in his mind, this grown man, hesitatingly, decided to play like a child once more. And as his playing progressed, he started feeling better and better. He realized he was on the brink of an important discovery.
Jung says, “Yet if I wanted to reestablish contact with that period, I had no choice but to return to it and take up once more that child’s life with his childish games.” Carl Jung then declares, “This moment was a turning point in my fate, but I gave in only after endless resistance and with a sense of resignation…Naturally I thought about the significance of what I was doing and asked myself, “Now really what are you about?”…I had no answer to my question, only the inner certainty that I was on the way to discovering my own myth…The child motif represents not only something that existed in the distant past but also something that exists now; …The “child” paves the way for a future change of personality. In the individuation process, it anticipates the figure that comes from the synthesis of conscious and unconscious elements in the personality. It is therefore a unifying symbol which unites the opposites.”
And so, the Child Archetype was added among Jung’s list of archetypes, in the collective unconscious minds.
Archetypes are models of personalities, behaviours, images, and beliefs, which possess universal meaning across all the cultures of the world. These archetypes show up in dreams, literatures of the ages, religions, art, and so on. Examples of some common archetypes are the wise old man, the wise old woman, the parent, the ruler, the trickster, the hero, the fool, the magician, the sage, etc.
The human psyche is very much influenced by these archetypes, according to Jung, and the Child archetype is the one that influences all human minds the most.
There are quite a few variations of the child archetype, which include, the Divine Child, the Invisible Child, the Orphan Child, the Wounded Child, the Magical Child, and the Nature Child.
To know more about the Magical Child and the Nature Child please click here.
Everyone of us share each of these various aspects of the Child archetype.
For example, not many people have had a happy childhood. Most of the children can never process sad feelings, and more so shocking and traumatic incidents in life. The very first feeling children usually experience when encountering such sad and shocking incidents in life is the feeling of helplessness. That is because these experiences are new to children and they do not know then how to deal with the situation. A Wounded Child aspect gradually starts appearing in these cases. Even in adulthood this Wounded Child causes reactions to certain events by bringing up specific sensations in the body and feelings within.
Simultaneously, there can be very happy incidents in childhood.
As children, one time or another all of us have been influenced by tales of fantasy, we have loved playing outdoors, loved being in nature, felt loved and experienced the warm happy feelings. So this part within us stays as the Nature Child, or the Magical Child, empowering us even in adulthood. These child archetypes are very wise and are sources of creativity and inspiration.
Then, there have been moments in childhood when we might have felt ignored or even abandoned and rejected. An Invisible Child archetype, or an Orphan Child archetype makes its presence felt in these cases.
Sometimes some adults behave in a very childish manner. It is because their inner child is stuck at a particular age and has not matured. These people are unconscious of the fact that it is due to the immature instincts of the inner child, that they act and react the way they do.
While growing up there is often a conflict between what is taught and expected of us, by our families, value systems, the societal, and cultural structures, and what our inner child truly seeks to express. Our creativity and inherent talents often get nipped in the bud at this stage. In later years this leads to a lot of stress as we begin to conform to societal structures and value systems and block our natural expression of creativity.
This is when a shadow inner child comes into being.
This child is trapped within us without being able to express himself/herself, is frozen in time and space, without being able to mature and grow with the flow.
Among your many faces, in the cover of darkness, that you hide, Buried somewhere beneath them is your Light…. Although its been many years now, I haven’t forgotten her shining face, and sparkling eyes as she spoke to a crowd of around a hundred and fifty odd people.
Deafening noise. That’s what I experienced when I first set out to practice silence. There was nowhere I could escape to. The din was in my head. Practicing silence in life, initially, can indeed get maddeningly noisy. It tears apart and rips all that you are not, to shreds; it tosses you around in the darkness, mocks at who you think you are by showing you all the stories you have told yourself, about yourself.
Cutting the Ties that Bind – A Phyllis Krystal Method
This is a group session held at Breakthrough every month, that teaches how to break free from the invisible chains that bind us, block us and keep us from being who we really are.
Dates for the next session to be shortly announced.