Recently, I have come across a few parents who are terrified that they are going to damage their children, and I told them what I'm telling you: You will.
Parents are human. You are human. You are perfectly imperfect. Some day your rambunctious four-year-old will be getting on your very last nerve, and you will hear your own mother's voice coming out of your mouth. "What is wrong with you?!" And your kid's off to the races.
Or maybe it'll be something a little more innocuous, to your mind gentle teasing, but at your child's expense. (Literally at your child's expense; have you seen the price of counselling these days?) "Well, you're never going to be Sidney Crosby, are you?" The child's mind may hear that they're not athletic, or it may drive down their self-esteem in the face of any competitive loss. Kids don't have the capacity to understand the small nuances of humour.
Here's where things get tricky. Many of these small scrapes will heal as easily as any physical one. A hug, an I love you, and a sincere apology could be all that’s required. But those emotional traumas - while to you they might just be jokes or small slights, to a young child they are traumatic - will actually stunt the child's emotional growth. That inner child will live with the person forever unless healed. That often shows up as anger in the adult's life. The fear of losing, or the fear of being judged a loser, bumps up against the boundary of their self-esteem and they fly into a rage.
Though often credited to Hemingway, there’s a quote floating around on social media that is more likely a misquote of (Canadian legend!) Leonard Cohen. “We are all broken; that’s how the light gets in.” Much as I push back against the word broken, I love that imagery of the quote as well as the emotions it evokes in me. To me, it just shouts, “Vulnerability!” Y’know, as much as vulnerability can shout. It tells me that the broken, damaged, or, as Cohen says, cracked parts of a person can be accessed, that they are open to healing.
When I am explaining it to clients, I tell them that emotional traumas are no different than the physical in that they need to be healed. Sure, sometimes a Band-Aid will be adequate, but some wounds go much deeper, and if they’re not healed, they can fester. Over time the infection can get so bad that it poisons the entire system, a system which doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You are like MRSA Patient Zero, spreading it to everyone who’s near to you.
Hmm… Actually, there’s a good chance that you’re not Patient Zero. Hurt people hurt people, right? The cycle of suffering is kept alive from generation to generation. People perpetuate what they’ve been taught. Even the most narcissistic parent didn’t end up that way of their own accord. They developed it as a coping mechanism, a survival technique, a persona they created to get their own caregivers’ attention. No one sets out to deliberately hurt you. They are coming from a place of their own damaged inner child.
So, the next time a parent pushes your buttons in that way only a parent can, just take a breath and imagine him or her as a child under age seven (yes, that’s important, but we’ll save it for another time). In your mind call them by their familial child name, whatever their parents might’ve called them at that age, and have compassion for the child within the adult.
And when you find yourself angry, look deep inside for your own injured child, call her by her familial child name, show her compassion, and promise to help her heal. The ripple effect through your family will be impactful and long-lasting. You have to be the grown-up figure for your inner child. You’re no longer a victim. Step up to healing.
Healed people heal people.
Leave the world better
Legacy coaching is all about healing the inner child and breaking the pattern of emotional trauma. We work with you to identify your limiting beliefs and use belief re-patterning, hypnotherapy, and other coaching tools to introduce you to and integrate you with the injured children within. You will be able to release anger, guilt, shame, and all of the negative emotions that have been holding you back and impacting not only your life but the lives of your loved ones and future generations.
Christie Morden is a legacy coach serving Calgary and surrounding areas. Other than your healthy self, the greatest gift you can give your family is peace of mind. Do you want to write a legacy letter to share the lessons you’ve learned during your time here on earth? Have you made peace with your emotional traumas? Do your loved ones know your wishes for end-of-life? Legacy letter writing, relationship coaching with hypnotherapy, Death after Dinner: Christie has the tools to coach you through all of it.
Mental Health Coach