May 17, 2022

Inner Child Healing & Healthy Relationships


EPISODE 49   

When we lack integration in our own identity, we do not have the power to love ourselves or others well. The work of interior integration helps us to love not only much but also love others well.

In this episode I share how inner child healing helped grow my capacity to love others well:
- Made me more self-aware of when I was using connection with others to avoid connecting with myself
- Helped me to stop shape-shifting in relationships
- Helped me learn to recognise where healthy boundaries are and act on them

Share this episode via this episode page.

CHAPTER MARKERS
00:19 - Introduction
02:46 - Three Ways Inner Child Healing Made Me Better at Loving Well
03:08 - 1. Awareness of my Reasons to Reach Out
08:42 - 2. I Stopped "Shapeshifting"
14:46 - 3. Drawing Healthier Boundaries
25:05 - PRAXIS: Listen. Ponder. Act
25:05 - Summary
27:36 - Conclusion
Available here.

TRANSCRIPT
Available here.

REFLECTION PROMPT
Listen.
- When you were listening to my sharing in this episode, which points maybe struck you most?
- What resonated with you?

Ponder.
- Which of the three points do you struggle most with in your own relationship with others?

Act.
- Write down in your journal what it is you struggle with. 
- What is it about this specific relationship that you can do to make it healthier?
- Think of one specific relationship where you're struggling with drawing boundaries.
- Write down how exactly you're struggling with boundaries in that relationship.
- Let what you've written down then be an impetus to encourage you to continue to take a next step in your interior healing journey.

For full details of this reflection prompt, please see transcript.


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Transcript

EPISODE 49 | INNER CHILD HEALING & HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

Who is this "me" who has dignity and agency, and who is precious, even prior to whether I'm welcome or unwelcome by others? Inner child healing has helped me to get in touch with this identity of who I am.

[00:00:19] INTRODUCTION
Welcome to Becoming Me, your podcast companion and coach in your journey to a more integrated and authentic self. I am your host, Ann Yeong, and I'm here to help you grow in self-discovery and wholeness. If you long to live a more authentic and integrated life and would like to hear honest insights about the rewards and challenges of this journey, then take a deep breath, relax, and listen on to Becoming Me.

[00:00:52]
Hello again, dear listeners. Okay, so, we're back to looking at the difference that inner child healing can make. And in this episode, we're going to be looking at how inner child healing has impacted my ability to have authentic relationships with others. So, in previous episodes, I've talked about how inner child healing impacted me in terms of my lived experience of trusting myself, not second-guessing myself and having greater moral courage.

[00:01:26]
I shared in another episode, how inner child healing has helped me to experience the embodiment of my relationship with God, as well as my relationship with myself. Okay, so, you know, in my podcast, I'm always talking about how we're living from the inside out and an authentic self is one that is in authentic relationship with ourselves inwardly, as well as with others outwardly, and with the divine, with God, right? – For those of us who practice spirituality.

[00:02:04]
So, in the previous episode, Loving Much versus Loving Well, I talked about the difference between these two, you know – there's a distinction between just loving deeply, loving passionately even, and loving well. And loving well means loving in such a way that empowers others, the people that we love, and empowers ourselves to be who we are – the best versions of ourselves.

[00:02:35]
So, we very often think of love – even a very self-giving, self-sacrificial kind of love – in terms of how much or little we love. We don't think about how well we love.

[00:02:46] THREE WAYS INNER CHILD HEALING MADE ME BETTER AT LOVING WELL
Okay, so, now in this episode – so, having made the distinction between loving much and loving well, in today's episode, I'm going to share three ways that inner child healing has helped me to become better at loving people well, and not just loving them much.

[00:03:08] 1. AWARENESS OF MY REASONS TO REACH OUT
Okay, so, the first way that inner child healing has helped me to love people well, is that it has made me more aware of the times when I – you know, I want to reach out to be with someone else or to connect with someone else, and without being aware that actually I'm doing so in order to fill up my loneliness or emptiness. What do I mean by that? We all have this sense of loneliness when we are quiet, right – at times.

[00:03:42]
For those of us who have more – maybe more wounds in our childhood – that sense of loneliness can be at times very overwhelming and very great. And very often we run away from that feeling of loneliness by trying to be in company, right – to being with other people. And sometimes we try and help other people.

[00:04:03]
Like for me, I try to make myself useful and helpful and help other people in need because it actually distracts me from my own problems and my own loneliness and emptiness. So, when I do that though, although on the surface, we think it's very legitimate, right? I mean, in fact, I've often seen how helping others is actually encouraged as a way to not be so self-absorbed with our problems.

[00:04:33]
Okay, so, there's some truth in that, right? There's some truth in not being always absorbed with what's going on with ourselves. But – and I hope that this is not new by now, for those of those of you who have followed my podcast for some time – that there is a very important and healthy way in which we do look within. Because if we do not tend to ourselves, to the needs that we have within ourselves, and we're constantly just projecting that outwards, these wounds would be projected into our relationship with others.

[00:05:06]
And often we are helping others in ways that harm them rather than actually help them. And we can't even see that, right. So, trying to connect with others so that I will feel less lonely is one way in which I've often been blinded to my own lack of connection with myself. Because in the past, before I did inner child work, I did not know that I could actually have a deep and intimate connection with myself, right.

[00:05:37]
So, the only way I knew was to try and reach out to someone else. And since I did not know how to be emotionally attuned to myself – because in my own earlier life experiences, I think I didn't really have that modelled for me – then the work of inner child healing or reparenting my inner child; that has taught me how to attune to my emotional needs.

[00:06:04]
And when I learned to attune to my own emotional needs – to listen, to pay attention rather than to ignore, you know, how I actually feel, I found that my hunger for external connection – it actually changed. There was less compulsion in my desire to connect or reach out to others because it was coming from a place of groundedness.

[00:06:29]
It was coming from a place of groundedness. I was not running away from my pain by trying to help others or trying to use their company to distract myself. So, what did this mean? It actually means that my love for others can now come from a more integrated and a secure place. And what I offer when I do reach out to others is honest, more transparent. If I do need or long for their company because I am feeling down or I'm feeling empty or lonely, I'm in touch with that truth.

[00:07:09]
And I can actually pause and see if there's something I can do for myself first. And if I have, and I still want to reach out to someone else, I am honest about it – at least to myself, right. So, I am not just operating out of a blindness and using someone else. In fact, sometimes, I now explicitly express that to someone that I'm reaching out to, you know – I'm feeling kind of down, you know, I would like to talk to somebody, you know, could you be there for me.

[00:07:41]
But it's okay – I understand if you can't be, right? Instead of, you know, trying to meet up under some other kind of pretences, some other reason. But actually, deep down it's because I'm feeling lonely.

[00:07:57]
So, this has impacted my relationships because by being more transparent, more authentic, and also more integrated in the way I approach my connection with others, there is greater freedom there. And then it's just come to pass that I see that all my relationships have become more life-giving to the other person, as well as to myself.

[00:08:24]
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that relationships become easier or that they're always happy. No, but they are more honest and they're more authentic. Okay, so, that's the first way in which inner child healing, for me, has made me more authentic in relating to others.

[00:08:42] 2. I STOPPED "SHAPESHIFTING"
A second way in which it has helped me become more authentic, is that I found that I've stopped shapeshifting in my relationships, okay – shapeshifting. You know, like trying to, you know, put on different masks and personas to be pleasing to someone else.

[00:09:01]
In the past, I was constantly scanning another person – trying to figure out what version of myself would make that person happier with me, right. What would make it easier for the person to be in relationship with me? Now, there is something there that is true and good, right? – About emotional intelligence, for example.

[00:09:21]
There is, some to some extent – we do become adaptable and flexible depending on the company that we're in to make relationships or interactions smoother. But where is that line between, you know, being flexible and adaptable so that our interactions can be easier. to losing track of who I am in order to make someone else happy.

[00:09:46]
Right, so, in the past, I didn't know where that line was. I couldn't tell where that line was. Love, to me, was always about trying to make myself pleasing to another person according to what would make them approve of me. Now, this was not conscious or intentional, but it was an undercurrent that fuelled all my relationships without my awareness.

[00:10:09]
Right, so, it's not that I was consciously aware I was shapeshifting. This was something I was doing without realising. And I used to be very hurt when I hear someone say like, you know – so, I've been accused of being inauthentic before. And I was very hurt because as far as I could tell, I was trying to be real.

[00:10:32]
I'm very sincere, right. But the reason the other person had said that was inauthentic was because they picked up on this, you know? That I am like – I am so good at shifting who I am in the moment so that I can fit in. So, being on this interior journey has made me more aware of this undercurrent in all my relationships.

[00:10:55]
It has made me aware that when I am not feeling secure, I do have this tendency to just try and act and perform, right – to try and play the role that I know is expected of me. But by getting to know my inner child and healing that relationship, I have become more familiar with the real me, you know – more familiar with who I am, distinct from and apart from my relationship with other people.

[00:11:27]
So, now I'm a lot more grounded that – whether or not somebody welcomes me, whether or not somebody is happy with me and that somebody could be somebody very intimate to me – including my husband, right, my spouse. Now, I'm a lot more aware that I am still who I am; what my own limits are and what is the honest version of the way that I am today –

[00:11:57]
– how I'm feeling today, how much I can be there for him, for my husband, for example. Even when he comes home from work and needs me to be present for him, there are days when I don't have the capacity. and I no longer try to play that role of, you know, what a good wife should be, in spite of how I'm actually feeling.

[00:12:18]
Now, I am more able to just be honest and tell my husband, you know; I know I'm getting the sense that you had a bad day and you need me to be here for you, but I just want you to know, I want to be here for you, but my own capacity is really low today because you know, it hasn't been a good day or I'm really struggling with something.

[00:12:39]
And so, with that transparently communicated, I can be myself, right. And even if my answer disappoints the person that I love, I can be at peace, you know? Because sometimes it's just a matter of time. It's just a matter of maybe – give me some time to recuperate. Let's give ourselves some, you know, some space, some charity, some grace, right.

[00:13:08]
And maybe tomorrow, you know, after I'm in a better place, I can be very present to you in the way that you are hoping that I can be. But I need this time. Right, so, not having to shapeshift and just play a role that I feel that I'm supposed to play well has helped me – has helped me to reclaim my dignity and my agency.

[00:13:36]
It has reminded me that I don't just exist for someone else, right. As much as I want to love someone well, I cannot love them well, unless I also love myself well. So, who is this "me" who has dignity and agency, and who is precious even prior to whether I'm welcome or unwelcome by others?

[00:14:01]
Inner child healing has helped me to get in touch with this identity of who I am. Right, it has helped me to become more integrated with my core identity. And this is something that's just been incredibly liberating – to know that I have worth, I have value that does not rise and fall with my popularity or my accomplishments or what people think of me.

[00:14:28]
So, this has helped me to become more authentic because I'm able to turn up as my real self in different relationships, in different scenarios. And people get to know the real me and be in relationship, not just with a roll/persona, but a real person.

[00:14:46] 3. DRAWING HEALTHIER BOUNDARIES
Okay, the final way in which – well, it's not comprehensive, but you know, the last point that I wanted to talk about in today's episode, in terms of how inner child healing has impacted my ability to be in authentic relationship with others, is it has enabled me to draw healthier boundaries. Again, this is a topic and a theme you hear over and over again on Becoming Me.

[00:15:13]
Boundaries, right? So, I used to believe that loving someone was helping them to stop hurting, okay. So, if I see someone in trouble, they're having some issues in their life – I felt that loving them meant trying to solve the problem for them or trying to rescuing them from the problems. And in doing so, I often end up enabling them, right.

[00:15:38]
I don't help them learn or pick up the resources that they need in order to make the changes they need to make in their own life. I make them dependent on me and make them dependent on my presence in their life. Now, bear in mind that when I'm operating from a place of insecurity and brokenness myself, having someone dependent on me is something that I actually want.

[00:16:05]
It's not good, but subconsciously, because I want that connection with someone else, it's like any connection is better than no connection, right? And when you're very wounded, you don't know how to have a healthy connection because a healthy connection requires people to be free – to be able to come and go from your life.

[00:16:25]
And when I am insecure, I'm very afraid of people abandoning me. So, keeping them dependent on me is actually something that works well for me – you know, it's a coping mechanism for me to feel that I am not abandoned. So, inner child healing has built me up in my own identity so that I do not need to feel that I'm dependent on my importance to someone else, right?

[00:16:59]
So, now when I find that I'm reaching out to someone, I have that ability to pause – just, you know, this is linked to the first point I made in this episode, right – that I have this awareness now of where my desire to reach out is coming from. And I can see when I am actually going into a place of enmeshment, where I am moving beyond what a healthy boundary would ask me to do, right –

[00:17:31]
– would dictate that I can or cannot do without violating somebody else's boundaries. So, when I began to learn what was healthy emotionally, right – even when I began to realize that let's say, enabling somebody else or trying to rescue them was not healthy. Even when I became cognitively aware of that, I could not do it.

[00:17:55]
I found that I could not do it because I had no power to do it. I didn't have to capacity to do what I wanted to do. Right, because I lacked the integration, the security in my own identity to do it. So, when I was most unhealthy in the past, I actually thought that intimacy meant being so close with someone that we didn't have a separate identity of our own – that we had one identity that was, you know, we were kind of fused into one.

[00:18:21]
I actually, honestly, at one point thought that that was what love looked like, right. Now, I know it's very unhealthy. Okay, then I moved from thinking that to thinking that – oh, okay. That's not what love should look like. Loving someone well meant that we should be able to preserve our separate identities, and there's such a thing as boundaries. But even knowing that, I would cross it – I'll keep violating those boundaries because as I would later learn, I did not know how not to do so.

[00:18:51]
Right, because what was lacking was in me – it was an ability, it was a matter of power. And how did I – how can I have that power to practice healthy boundaries? I needed to heal my relationship with myself, right? So, inner child, healing helped me to do this in a very practical way. It's not the only modality.

[00:19:11]
It's not the only way that we can heal our relationship with ourself. It's just that I'm sharing how inner child healing has helped me because this was the first – the first way that I really learned and, you know, it really gave me a lot of mileage and really made so much difference in my life, right.

[00:19:29]
So, inner child reparenting helped me because it made me realise that before I try and rescue someone else and worry about their problems, I need to look after my own inner child first, right – which is actually my own needs; to listen to my own needs and to tend to them so that these do not come up subconsciously when I'm trying to love someone else.

[00:19:50]
Because if I'm not aware of my own needs, a lot of times what's coming across, or what I'm trying to do that is loving, have a lot of – what I would say – hidden bids for attention. Okay, so, there are bids for attention, but they're not explicit. They're not communicated transparently. They are kind of implicit and hidden.

[00:20:11]
And then if I don't get that attention that I want – that I actually crave for, I become resentful and upset. And sometimes I end up behaving in a passive aggressive way. Right, so, there's so much that can happen in my relationship with someone else that I wished to love well, but I can't because I'm not aware of my own needs.

[00:20:32]
And I do not know how to tend to my own needs. So, as I experienced the healing and empowerment of doing this inner work, I began to become more able to recognize where other people need to make their own journey, right? Where there is a line that I cannot cross if I want them to grow in their own power, in their own ability to deepen their inner resources.

[00:20:59]
I began to learn where that difference was between encouraging and supporting someone in their journey and transferring their dependence onto me as their saviour. Not only did I begin to see where that line was, I began to have that ability to honour that line, even when it was difficult and tempting – you know, because sometimes I just want to help that person so much because I didn't like seeing someone I cared for in pain – and I think I know better.

[00:21:30]
And I think I should tell them what they should do, right? But now I know where that is a line that I should not cross. And that that person also needs however long they take to make their journey themselves. So, I began to be able to care for people without trying to change them and to be more discerning and aware when other people want me to drop my boundaries so that I can meet their needs. Because sometimes, other people – they want me to rescue them, right?

[00:21:57]
They don't want me to let them figure out their own ways. But by trying to meet what they need. not only will I be not helping them, I would also be harming myself. So, this is such an important thing. You know, this is a very practical power. When I say power, I just mean the ability to do something, right.

[00:22:22]
Power is the ability to do something. So, when I am not integrated, I do not actually have that ability to love well – I cannot love myself well, I cannot love other people well. When I heal in my relationship with myself, when I get more integrated, then I find that I am empowered because now I do have that ability to do what it takes, right.

[00:22:47]
Certainly, it's a growing ability. It's still not perfect. But I see it progress day to day. So, the work of inner child healing is, you know, in particular, just in a very personal way – it helps me because by picturing an actual child that I need to protect, that I need to honour, right – it helps me to remember that my life, my energy and my needs, they are real, concrete and valid.

[00:23:15]
Somehow, it was easier for me to draw boundaries, to protect my inner child, when I can imagine an actual child that needs my protecting – compared to when, you know, I was just thinking of my own needs as an abstract concept. Because I guess I've been brought up in a way to believe that my needs always mattered less than others.

[00:23:35]
It was hard for me to reprogram that assumption. But when I imagined that there is a younger me – that there's a child, right? There's a younger Ann that needs me to stand up for her, to listen to her, to pay attention to what her needs are, and then to draw the boundaries that she needs so that she will not be harmed – that actually enabled me to do what I need to do to take care of myself.

[00:25:05] SUMMARY
So, these are the three ways that I wanted to share in this episode on how inner child healing has helped me become more integrated and authentic in my relationship with others. Right, so, just to sum up again: 1. It made me more self-aware of when I'm tempted to use my relationships to help me avoid my own loneliness – and so, end up using people instead of loving them.

[00:24:27]
2. It has helped me to be my real self in different situations instead of always shapeshifting so that I can be accepted. And in doing so, this has blessed my relationships because it allows people to get to know the real me and not just a persona.

[00:24:49]
And finally, it has helped me to draw healthy boundaries so that my relationships can be freeing and empowering both, for me and for the other person, instead of constantly getting an meshed and co-dependent in my relationships.

[00:25:05] PRAXIS: LISTEN. PONDER. ACT.

So, here are the praxis prompts for today. One: Listen – so, when you were listening to my sharing in this episode, which points maybe struck you most? What resonated with you?

[00:25:26]
Two: Ponder – which of the three points do you struggle most with in your own relationship with others? So, I mentioned three ways in which inner child hearing has helped me become more authentic in my relationship with others, right? So, which of these three ways of being in authentic relationship with others, do you struggle with the most?

[00:25:53]
Is it in tending to maybe use others for your own comfort to fill your own loneliness without you being aware of it? Or is it you struggle with constantly shapeshifting in order to please others and in such a way that they don't really get to know the real you, but a persona? Or is it in being unable to draw healthy boundaries?

[00:26:27]
Three: Act – so, write down in your journal what it is you struggle with. Make it concrete and specific. Perhaps you would like to ask yourself, you know, what is it about this specific relationship that you can do to make it healthier? Right, so, if you said that it was, you know, the third point of drawing healthy boundaries that you struggled with, don't just think about it in general.

[00:26:53]
Think of one specific relationship where you're struggling with drawing boundaries. Write down how exactly you're struggling with boundaries in that relationship. And let what you've written down then be an impetus for you, you know – to encourage you to continue to take a next step in your interior healing journey – whatever that step might be.

[00:27:17]
Remember that we can't have healthier relationships just by working on what happens between us and the other person. The most important and effective way to transform all our relationships into healthier ones is by working on our interior life and becoming more whole.

[00:27:36] CONCLUSION
Thank you for listening to Becoming Me, where new episodes drop every first and third Wednesdays of the month. Remember, the most important thing about making this journey is to keep taking steps in the right direction. No matter how small those steps might be, and no matter where you might be in your life right now, it is always possible to begin. 

The world would be a poorer place without you becoming more fully alive. Don't forget to visit my website at becomingmepodcast.com and to subscribe to my newsletter as well as to this podcast. Until the next episode, Happy becoming!