March 15, 2022

Inner Child Healing (with Dr Jean Cheng): Part 2


EPISODE 44   

How did we learn to distrust our emotions? Or to disconnect from our inner knowing about our needs in order to keep pushing through to deliver what is expected of us, even if it harms us?

In this second part of my conversation with Dr Jean Cheng about inner child healing, we talk about how our inner children received wounding and what's at stake when, as adults, our inner children do not find healing

This episode is particularly rich with analysis, examples and stories about children and how these relate to our inner children. 

Share this episode via this episode page.

CHAPTER MARKERS
00:18 - Introduction
02:16 - How Does An Inner Child Get Wounded?
09:01 - When Does Our Inner Child Start Getting Wounded?
17:27 - What's At Stake If Our Inner Child Does Not Experience Healing?
33:24 - PRAXIS: Listen. Ponder. Act
40:22 - Conclusion
Available here.

TRANSCRIPT
Available here.

REFLECTION PROMPT
Listen.
- Was there any part of this episode that resonated particularly strongly with you? 
- Pay attention to what that story or sharing, a particular point might be, that you felt resonated with you.

Ponder.
- Stay a little longer with what had come to your attention as you listened to your own reactions.
- Can you identify what emotion you're feeling? 
- Take notice of what you're feeling. Don't rush out of this step.

Act.
- Look at a photograph of your younger self.
- Do you remember how you were at that age? 
- Imagine what it was that you had most needed or desired to hear when you were that age.
- If you're ready, follow a simple exercise.

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

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
- Dr. Jean Cheng's Instagram

PODCAST COMPANION WORKBOOK
- Downloadable & Printable
- 10 worksheets, over 30 exercises
- Helps you integrate and apply the foundational principles to Becoming Me
- Great for inner work and connecting with yourself in solitude
- Includes tips for partner and small-group sharing
- Free for all e-mail newsletter subscribers

FIND OUT MORE

SUBSCRIBE | FOLLOW | CONTACT

Website:
Visit www.becomingmepodcast.com to leave me a message and sign up for my newsletter! To see where else you can connect with me or my content, click HERE.

Social Media:
Follow Becoming Me Podcast on Facebook & Instagram
Follow Ann Yeong on Facebook & Instagram

Donate:
Become My Patron

If this podcast has blessed you, please leave a review by clicking here.

Transcript

EPISODE 44 | INNER CHILD HEALING (WITH DR. JEAN CHENG): PART 2

What that child learns there, is that there is something wrong with me for needing more time. There's something wrong with my need. And then a wound forms – a wound forms as to I cannot trust what I need.

[00:00:18] 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.

[00:00:50]
Hello again, dear listeners. I hope you're eager to continue hearing about Inner Child Healing. Part one was the introduction to my wonderful podcast guest, Dr. Jean Cheng and her work, as well as learning an important definition about who our inner child is. Now, if you haven't listened to part one, yet, I invite you to pause now and go back and listen to that first part – first episode, which is the last episode – so that you can fully appreciate today's episode.

[00:01:23]
Now, in part two, we are really going to delve into the meat of my conversation with Jean. In preparing to record this introduction and the practice prompts for this episode, I had to go back and re-listen to this part of the conversation several times, because it was just so rich with insights and stories and examples.

[00:01:47]
The two main questions that framed this conversation were; 1. How does inner child get wounded? And 2. What happens to us, as adults, when we have a wounded inner child that hasn't been healed? Or put another way – what's at stake if our inner child does not experience healing? Okay, so, are you ready? Here we go.

[00:02:16] HOW DOES AN INNER CHILD GET WOUNDED?
Ann: So, the second question was how does an inner child get wounded?

Dr. Jean: Yes. A wounded inner child.

Ann: Yes, so, how does a child get wounded, right? And what are some signs that my inner child is wounded – I guess, also.

Dr. Jean: Yeah, the inner child – well, when we talk about inner child, sometimes I also like to talk about children also, because it's the same thing. Our inner child inside us is basically – we were all once – basically once us, externally manifested. But now it's almost like a psyche or a spiritual part of us that is inside us – that is a childlike state inside us.

[00:02:55]
But anyway, so how do children get wounded? They tend to get wounded when their the full dignity as a human being – even though they are small, even though they are less productive in our society – like, they just have an equal human dignity.

[00:03:20]
And when they are not experiencing life in a way that honours, respects, understands, protects that full dignity that they were created already fully with – that's when wounds happen. So, I would just use that as a general statement first. That's how wounds happen. And sometimes these wounds happen because of outright abuse that's happened to them.

[00:03:59]
And I don't just mean physical abuse. I mean, emotional abuse, I mean relational abuse. So, for example, telling a child who is very shy, you know, are you stupid or what's wrong with you? Like, that really, really wounds the child because the child is just shy and needs more time to familiarize themselves to the environment.

[00:04:29]
And on the other hand – but when they get scolded like that, or ridiculed like that, or put down like that, then what's going to happen is that this child, who is actually perfectly and wonderfully made and who actually, just has a more sensitive or shy disposition – their needs, right, for this particular child would be; they need more time than another child.

[00:04:54]
They just need more time to familiarize themselves to settings, to people. But when they are – and you would shy children – when they are around people that they're familiar with for a long time, they are very loud, they are very happy, they chit-chat a lot. They just take more time to warm up. That is what they uniquely need, as opposed to a different child who can just bounce and bounce into events, right.

[00:05:17]
So – but their needs are not being met here because the parent is, for example, impatient – very often because the parent themselves have their own wounds. The parent themselves have their own fears. So, the parents here blocks them from being able to love the child fully for who the child uniquely is.

[00:05:40]
And so the parents say, "oh, my child is not, you know, interacting with these, so-and-so. And I'm so worried that this means the other people are going to judge my child", or "I'm actually also judging my child". Like what's wrong with my child compared to your child, and your child, and your child.

[00:05:54]
So, I'm like, "keep going out", and the child is like, "No, I want to sit with you, I want to cling with you". I mean, they wouldn't say "I want to cling" but they're like, "No I want to be with you. I want to be with you, mummy". And you'll be like, "no, just go, just go. It's fine. Stop being such a coward. Come on. You're brave. Go, go, go".

[00:06:09]
What that child learns there, is that there is something wrong with me for needing more time. There's something wrong with my needs. And then a wound forms – a wound forms as to I cannot trust what I need. There's something wrong there. I cannot trust that my feelings are communicating my needs to me. Cause my feelings of anxiety actually telling me, I need more time to feel, to notice that my body eventually warm up in this environment.

[00:06:40]
I cannot trust this. And what happens then is the child starts to learn not to trust the sensations and the feedback from their own bodies, and they don't trust themselves. And then they end up growing up like that over time and they will then not be able to tap into the unique feedbacks from their bodies that actually can guide them in life, that actually tells them what a situation is safe or not safe.

[00:07:10]
So, for example – I mean taking this same example, when this child grows up, let's say they have peer pressure and the peer pressure says, "Hey, why don't you just go out with – don't be such a wuss. Just go out with these people. And just" – I don't know – "let's just do under underage drinking", okay.

[00:07:32]
These are very lousy stereotypes, but let's just assume like that, right?

Ann: Yeah, right.

Dr. Jean: And then the friends start to say, "What's wrong with you? Don't be such a wuss lah. Come on, let's go". Even though the child was hesitant, the child's going to kind of go, after a while, like, "yeah, I cannot trust myself. I need to just follow what people – because people know me better than myself". Because my parents knew me better than myself.

[00:07:56]
And they made me believe that there was something wrong with the own feedback from my body. So, right now, my friends must know better than me about me. I cannot trust the feedback in my own body that's telling me I'm super uncomfortable in this situation – even though I don't know why yet. So, I'm just going to go along with it.

[00:08:12]
And then, more and more, all these things happen that the child, you know – so, I guess what happens in the long run is that you tend to lose connection with your child. Wounding is where we lose connections with ourselves, really.

[00:08:32]
We're not in connection. We're not in communion with the different parts of ourselves, and trusting the different feedbacks from both our brains and our emotions. It becomes we're disconnected and then we don't know how to tap into it anymore. So, that's an example of how – one example, more specific example, with a shy child, you know – of how a parent, of how the child can develop the wounds.

[00:09:01] WHEN DOES OUR INNER CHILD START GETTING WOUNDED?
Ann: Yeah. But it sounds to me – I mean the principle, the underlying principle – that would be whatever the temperament of a child or the situation, when there's some felt sense that it's not okay to feel what I'm feeling right now or to need what I'm needing right now, and maybe some pressure to be some other way.

[00:09:25]
And, you know, then this kind of a thing could be starting to happen – this kind of a wounding.

Dr. Jean: Yes.

Ann: And from what I hear, it sounds like this would have been a process that would have started very early on in our lives – when we were children, ourselves.

Dr. Jean: Absolutely. Yes, it can even start as early as when the child is a baby, right.

[00:09:47]
Let's say the child is crying a lot more. I mean, every child is born with a different temperament. And with different temperaments, we have different needs, you know – we need someone to attend to us differently. And when a parent does not know, or is equipped with the knowledge or learning to attend a different temperaments –

[00:10:11]
And none of us are born into parenting with a sense like, oh, I know how to do everything – of course not. We will make mistakes along the way. But the point is, can we at least become more curious and aware that somehow, this method that I used with my first child is not exactly working with my second child. And what could be the unique needs of my second child here.

[00:10:32]
How do I need to adjust my own approach to meet the uniqueness of my second child here. And when a parent is able to – so for example, with a shy child – when the parent's able to say, "You know what? Take your time. Like, yes, sit with mummy. You don't have to go out unless you want to. You can always go and come back – I'll just be. But you take your time, you know, your body".

[00:10:56]
"Listen to your body – when your body feels ready to go, mummy will be here". Well, then the child learns that, hey! I can listen to my body and my connection with my mummy remains in the midst of all of this. There's no disconnection happening within myself. There's no disconnection happening with my mother. It's a very...

Ann: Secure, kind of a..

Dr. Jean: Secure! Yes. Safe and secure.

Ann: Yeah, yeah. Yeah that's the word. You feel safe.

Dr. Jean: Experience.

[00:11:31]
And you're right, that many of us from a very young age, did not grow up with that.

Ann: Yeah. And you touched on that a little earlier when you were saying also, because I think a lot of times, adults – and that would be, let's say our parents, when we were young. I mean, they also come with their sets of experiences. And I suppose if they are not aware that that's also that kind of space they're operating out from, maybe they've never reconnected with their own self – their own inner self, their own inner child.

[00:12:01]
And then the loving thing to do would be to whip the children into shape. I mean, I'm not saying literally. But you know, that love would have to be the shape of maybe controlling my child, you know, disciplining him or her so that they will act in a way that is socially acceptable, that will stand them in better stead in society.

[00:12:24]
And a lot of times that's where the wounding happens because then, our uniqueness or unique pace or needs – they've just kind of like fall by the wayside; there's pressure to conform to some way of what's seen as an ideal kind of a thing, right?

Dr. Jean: Yes, and then what happens is that you end up with all these adults – the wounded children become adults and they might get into everything that conforms to society. I have so many clients that tell me I have everything on paper.

[00:12:53]
But I feel dead inside. I feel so empty. There's nothing. I have all this, but so what? So what?

Ann: Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Jean: Yes, that's them being very, very disconnected from inside them.

Ann: Yeah, yeah. I was – my next question was going to be what happens to an adult when I have a wounded inner child that hasn't been healed, right? And I think you've kind of like – you've pre-empted me, what you just described. Like I think that really does seem to describe the experience of someone who is an the adult and is disconnected, or has a wounded inner child.

[00:13:32]
And you know, have the language or the calibre to understand that. But yes! Before I learned this vocabulary, that was my experience. Everything on the outside looks so good, which then actually makes me feel even more guilty for even thinking that I'm happy.

Dr. Jean: Yes, yes!

Ann: Like, I have no right to be unhappy.

[00:13:54]
So, you know, like there's many other people who has it worse than me, you know? Like in many ways, I'm doing so well, but I'm unhappy. Then that makes me feel ungrateful – which in my upbringing is another like sin, you know. You cannot be ungrateful, right? It's like I have so many – I'm so blessed. And I couldn't trust – and you're right in the sense that, back then, something in my gut was telling me something's not right, Ann. Something's not right with you and with your life.

[00:14:22]
But my head was overriding and saying, but look rationally at everything that you have. There's no reason for you to be unhappy, you know? And for the longest time, I think my experience of having of being wounded in that way is I didn't know how to be in relationship with myself. In fact, it probably never occurred to me that there was a relationship with myself because I was always taught, you know, to be kind to others, right – to love others, to serve others.

[00:14:55]
And then, and of course, God, you know, like, you know – all this is other-centric. And that's what it means to be good, I guess, both in terms of culturally and religiously – you know, in terms of the tradition that I grew up in. And all this talk about dying to self for others. So, all that, all my life – I mean, what's the point of, I mean, where is there a relationship with yourself, right?

[00:15:21]
It's all about somehow, attending to the needs that other people have, or what God wants. So, then it's almost like, then I – where do I fit in, you know?

Dr. Jean: Yup.

Ann: And I've since learned that a lot of this – it's really, it's very sad kind of interpretations. And I really don't do, you know, even if, let's say if we're going to scripture, but it's not necessarily meant that way.

[00:15:44]
If you were to ask me back then, how do you feel? Maybe on the surface, I can say, okay, I feel angry or sad or something like that. But at a deeper level, I don't think I have permission – I don't think I give myself permission to feel. So, it was a very stressful question to be asked, especially in the context of, let's say spiritual direction – which I had a spiritual director who was – I think he knew, and he was trying to tap into this and help me realize that, you know. And he asked me, "Ann, what is your deepest desire?"

[00:16:10]
And I was – I couldn't answer. And the thing in my mind was, I don't know? What does God want me to desire? It's like, I don’t know. I guess I would desire what I'm supposed to desire. Or I want my desire to be what I'm supposed to desire. And so, he changed the question and he asked – okay, so obviously this girl doesn't know how to answer it, right, what does she desire – he asked me, "what's your greatest fear", and that I could answer a lot easier.

[00:16:32]
Because my greatest fear was to be rejected and to be abandoned, you know. And of somehow crossing a line, saying the wrong thing, or not measuring up and then, facing the possibility of being abandoned or being rejected or being unloved.

Dr. Jean: Yeah.

Ann: Yeah. So, I – yeah, I mean, like, it was only later on when I started the work that I realized that I needed to do this work and I was beginning to experience, I guess, what's at stake if I don't go on this healing journey. So, that was actually a question I was going to ask you next, right – other than, let's say, now, maybe having a sense that, okay, I might have this wound, or I have a wounded inner child in me – because who doesn't, right?

[00:17:27] WHAT'S AT STAKE IF OUR INNER CHILD DOES NOT EXPERIENCE HEALING?
I mean, I would say everybody, in some way, has that. What's at stake if I never embark on this healing journey with my inner child?

Dr. Jean: Good question. First, I just want to say that everything that you just described in your personal experience – that is a very classic example of how, when we have been wounded. So, I'm hearing that your wound is a wound of rejection, a wound of abandonment.

[00:17:57]
If you don't do things that make other people happy, for example, if you don't take care of other people's needs, then you would be kind of rejected, in a sense. And people might be saying no, but my parents didn't reject me. You know, like, but rejection can come across in many ways. So, for example, a rejection can be like, you know, your parents would just say, "aiya, why are you being so selfish?"

[00:18:16]
And then they just don't seem very happy with you that day. But after that, they're connecting with you. So, I don't mean like perpetual rejection, right? It's just in that moment, there's a bit of that shaming. There's a bit also like, "can you just stop thinking about yourself", you know, – these kinds of rejection. And you can see that your parents are displeased with you.

[00:18:33]
Or like, they are kind of like putting up a little bit of a wall between you and them. You sense a disconnection – that already is a form of an abandonment, an emotional abandonment that you're experiencing. So, what happens when somebody goes through that and has such wounds – or for you, it's this wound. For other people, it could be a different wound, right?

[00:18:54]
What happens is that we ended up organizing our entire lives to protect us from being wounded in this further. So, I'm hearing that for you, right – it became like, let me take care of other people. Let me just please you, right. Because if I please you, if I do want you one, if I serve you, if I take care of your needs – there's no reason why you would reject me what? Who wants to reject somebody else that's doing so much for them?

[00:19:18]
I mean, not that we are thinking about this consciously.

Ann: Yes. Yeah.

Dr. Jean: But our unconscious is so smart in helping us and protecting us from pains and these kinds of childhood wounds that we carry. Our unconscious is so clever and protecting us from that. So, yeah.

Ann: And there's a catch-22 because ultimately, you can't run, you still experience rejection, right.

[00:19:46]
And it seems like no matter how much I try to be that most wonderful friend that's always there when you need me – you know, kind of thing – I will still experienced rejection. Which then builds, you know, it just increases that fear, right. Because then now, I don't know. Because even when I'm doing my best to be the best possible friend or, you know, to be available to take care of people, you know, to perform – let's say to make people proud of me – you know the people who are older, people of authority – that still happens.

[00:20:17]
And it's such a depressing, hopeless feeling to have.

Dr. Jean: Yes.

Ann: I mean – and you never know when it's going to happen. That's a real fear. You never know when it's going to happen.

Dr. Jean: It's like, you can do your absolute best. You think that you've nailed – you've control every outcome and this pain will not happen. And yet you can get rejected because rejection is not dependent on what we do, right?

[00:20:36]
Rejection is just the other person has their own reasons for that they don't want to be your friend lor, or whatever. But we see everything in relation to ourselves.

Ann: Yes.

Dr. Jean: Because when these wounds happened when we were children – children, developmentally and appropriately would interpret the world in relation to themselves.

Ann: Right.

Dr. Jean: They are naturally and developmentally healthily, egocentric.

Ann: Yes, yes.

[00:21:00]
Dr. Jean: So, if mummy is irritated and talking to me an irritated way, I will think that I am being irritating. I would think that it's because I'm being naughty or I'm troubling her. That's how I'll interpret it if my parents did not tell me otherwise.

Ann: Right.

Dr. Jean: So, the other day, for example, I was doing something with my door and also very, very tired.

[00:21:22]
And my daughter, she – I was like, come here and fix this and I was talking to her in a very irritated tone. And then she – I saw her look at me. I saw her almost like kind of look at me. And because she looked at me, I then jolted out of that state and became aware of how she was interpreting the whole event.

[00:21:43]
And I was like, oh, okay. She might think that she is irritating me. And that will be completely normal and appropriate for her to think that way because she's a child – so she views everything in relation to herself. So, what's my role as an attuned parent – my role is to actually help her with that.

[00:22:07]
So, what I said to her was, "Hey, mummy's talking very impatiently and I'm feeling very irritated right now, but it's not because of you. It's actually because mummy is just very tired and all I want to do is, you know, go and bathe and lie down in the air-con room on my bed. That's all I want to do.

[00:22:27]
So, mummy's not angry with you, okay? It's not you". And then suddenly, my daughter just gives me a hug and she disappeared. She disappeared. And I was like, oh, but the fact that she gave me a hug – it was like, oh, okay. Like, I was surprised because my daughter is not physically affectionate. Then she came back with a fan.

[00:22:45]
Like she came back, she put a fan right in front of me and she said, "can you feel this?"

Ann: Aww. That's so sweet.

Dr. Jean: Yeah. Yeah. But the point is that children – like children see things in one lens.

Ann: Yeah.

Dr. Jean: And when you can, as a parent, if we can understand this and we start to help them to interpret that this – your lenses one lens, yes.

[00:23:07]
But let me tell you that I'm a different person from you, and this is what is going on inside me, so that you can better understand that. Then we stop. Then we're helping our child not to just personalize everything and see everything as it's because of them.

Ann: Yes.

Dr. Jean: Yeah. So, it sounds like, from what you're saying also, that even when we've grown up and we still have that – we're still operating, you know it's like subconsciously or unconsciously like that child – interpreting everything around what I've done or what I'm, what I failed to do – sorry, sounds so familiar, as in the "I confess". Okay, yeah.

[00:23:57]
So it's almost like there's a part of me that's frozen at that age. And that part of me that's frozen at that younger age is actually really influencing my adult self and the way that I'm approaching my relationships in my life, right?

Dr. Jean: Correct. That's your wounded child in action.

Ann: Right. So, that's one of the ways maybe we can tell that we have a wounded inner child – if we can even have the ability to kind of like reflect and see, oh, you know, this is what's happening, right. As in like, I'm operating like a scared child. I know that scared child so well.


[00:24:41]
Dr. Jean: Yes. And so, your question earlier on was, you know – what's at stake, right – for us if inner child does not experience healing? Then right then very often, that inner child, which has been wounded, still lives in us and will be the one that will be directing a lot of our decisions, our choices. We often –  we will find ourselves not doing things out of "what brings me joy" –

[00:25:13]
What brings me passion? What do I find my purpose in life? What do I want to do as opposed to what should I do? You know, we don't have that freedom anymore. Everything somehow just becomes very much reactive, like, and we're not very sure why.

Ann: Right.

[00:25:34]
Dr. Jean: So, for listeners, you know, if you find that you are often personalizing events – like, you think that it's always in relation to you – that could be a sign that it's your wounded child. That actually at a very young age, this was the experience and that wound has not been healed.

[00:25:54]
Other things that can happen for us when we have not had healing for our wounded inner children is, we often end up perpetuating what happens to us. Meaning we actually – if our parent disconnected from us when we were say – okay, let's say, you know, when children at two or three years old, they are more – they try to assert themselves. That's the age where they are trying to get a sense of themselves.

[00:26:23]
That sense of autonomy. Now, if the parent starts to shame the child for choosing something different from the parent – which I think is quite a common experience for a lot of Asian communities, right. Like, the parent wants you to do this, but you're like, no, I want to do this because you're very young and you just want to assert yourself differently.

[00:26:44]
I don't want it to pink towel. I want a blue towel, for example, right.

Ann:
Right.

Dr. Jean: What's going to happen when your parents shame you for that – like stop being so naughty or stop being so disobedient. Or you know – then what's going to happen is that now, well, two things can happen – and they often happen in extremes.

[00:27:05]
One is you either become the super rebellious person in life where you're always doing the opposite of what the authority figures says because your authority figure – meaning your parents – when you were young, could not use their authority to help you to get in touch with your natural autonomy. Instead, they used it as a power struggle.

[00:27:25]
So, now every time you sense a power struggle, you would rebel and you want to assert yourself – that's one extreme. The other extreme that can be more common for most people would be that you learn to – for the nice child syndrome in that sense – you learn never to express what you want to the point that you don't know what you want.

[00:27:47]
Just like how, Ann, you were saying that that was your experience. You don't know – after a while, you don't know what you want anymore. And that's what I mean by we end up perpetuating what happened to us because over the time, we never get in touch with what we really want. And if we even have a clue of what we actually want, we might end up beating that out of ourselves.

[00:28:09]
We might end up, "aiya, I'm just being selfish lah". Okay, so, for example, what I want could be, you know what? – I just really want to sleep. I just really don't want to participate in this volunteer program, for example. Then I might end up doing what I received in the past – which is what I want is always selfish, what I want is always wrong because my parents always made me feel that if I don't go in accordance with what they wanted or what general society wanted, it's wrong.

[00:28:33]
Then now, when I just want to sleep – then there's something wrong with me. I'm lazy. I'm this, I'm selfish, I'm that. And I end up perpetuating that wound for myself. And then you will find somebody who ends up being very burnt out, very, very tired.

Ann: Yes.

Dr. Jean: Doing everything for everybody, but feeling incredibly lonely and bitter and angry.

Ann:
Yes.

Dr. Jean: And sometimes even demanding that other people do the same because it's like, how dare you have a better life than me?

Ann: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:29:01]
I mean like, how is it that I can do all this, but you actually can feel joyful. Like, I feel really resentful of your joy. But actually the resentment, that jealousy is also – so, again, you know, all emotions are actually just telling us clues about ourselves and what we need – our jealousy, our resentment could just be saying, you know, I would really love that too. But somehow, I don't know how. I don't feel like I deserve that, or I don't know how to have permission to have that.

[00:29:27]
Ann:
Yes.

Dr. Jean:
So, these are some examples. There are others.

Ann: Yeah. I'm sure there are. Yes! And I can imagine – I think people who are listening, some of them, I hope, are identifying, you know, like resonating, like, oh yeah, that sounds a bit like my own experience –my lived experience. And I was just thinking, when you were talking about the experience of how if we don't go into this, if we don't heal this wounded inner child, that ultimately, our lives are being run by that angry or scared, fearful inner child who just wants to be protected, right.

[00:30:06]
I don't want to go, I don't want to do something that would then end up me being hurt or rejected for my life, for me, for example. And that's so ironic because earlier, when we started, I was talking about how, when we begin to want to let the inner child speak, we are afraid of what the child would say, because it's going to say, I want this, I want that, right?

[00:30:25]
And then we tried to shut that child up. But when we shut that child up and we silence that child, actually, that child runs our lives.

Dr. Jean: Yes!

Ann: How ironic, right?

Dr. Jean: Yes! Oh, bingo!

[00:30:39]
Ann: And then, because we are not aware of it – so we are completely un-self-aware, right – we think we're being very logical and rational and mature and everything. But actually – yeah, that's a little, maybe two or three-year-old, that's, you know, really running our lives, and not in a very balanced way. And we're completely unaware.

Dr. Jean: Absolutely. You see, when we don't listen to children and if you just think about physical – like actual children, not just inner children – when we don't listen to them when they tell you, "mummy I'm scared" and we don't attend to it at that point of that quiet, just a gentle connection of just sharing what they need.

[00:31:14]
And I ignore that, I dismiss that, I pushed them further. Then, what's going to happen is, eventually the child is going to escalate, right? Because you don't hear me when I'm quiet, I'm going to escalate. I'm going to scream – "Mummy! I'm scared, I'm scared". Or I'm just going to throw things around because I'm now feeling so overwhelmed. So, it's the same thing here.

[00:31:33]
You know, when we eventually learn this work of inner child work and we learn to, over time, we will get better at learning to listen to the promptings of our inner child when they are just communicating to us gently and quietly. And if our inner child – just like how, if children trust that their parents take them seriously, protect them, values their opinion as well.

[00:31:57]
But also holds boundaries or, you know, keeps them safe. That doesn't mean, "Mummy I want to jump across the road when the car is coming" – obviously not lah, right. You know, but we have to explain that nicely. But anyway, my point is when children know that their parent will attend to them, they don't need to get this dysregulated. They know how they can just say it and it would be met.

[00:32:24]
And it's the same thing for inner child – when we start to feel these sensations and we listen to them when it's at a lower intensity, it doesn't need to escalate and it doesn't need to overwhelm and overtake us. But the irony is the more we don't listen to it, then the more it will escalate. And over time, as you said, you experienced that, that it runs your life.

[00:32:43]
They are just – it's like a child that eventually, you know – a child who isn't attended to that eventually just frequently has meltdowns or – I mean, I'm using meltdowns in a very loose fashion. Of course, there are different reasons why some children might be neurobiologically, they go into to meltdowns. So, I'm using it in this specific fashion, but yeah, they might go into numerous meltdowns.

[00:33:06]
They might just become very uncooperative in every way. And your life as a parent, when you have a child that's in that state already is organized around that child. So, it's the same thing with our – with our dysregulated inner child as well.

Ann: Yeah! That's so true.

[00:33:24] PRAXIS: LISTEN. PONDER. ACT.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this part of the conversation that Dr. Jean Cheng and I had. I'm just going to share the praxis prompts for this episode right now. But I just want to say, if you feel like, that you need to maybe just go back to certain parts of this episode or just listen to the conversation again, feel free to do that before you even maybe attempt to do what I suggest in a praxis prompts, right.

[00:33:56]
But if you would like to go a little further than just listening, especially if, let's say, as you're listening to this episode, you're listening to the conversation, you kind of feel like moved. You feel moved to maybe want to connect with your inner child, then I hope that today's praxis prompts will help you to kind of begin – begin, you know, to have a bit of an experience, a sense of what this might be.

[00:34:21]
Okay, just remember, at any point, if you don't feel you're ready or you're not comfortable with a suggestion that I made in the practice prompts, you don't have to do it, okay? You know best what you and your inner child are ready for. So, take it slow and don't rush.

[00:34:41]
One: Listen – this was a particularly rich episode, both in terms of the analysis that Dr. Jean Cheng shared with us, as well as the stories and examples that were shared by both of us. Was there any part of this episode that resonated particularly strongly with you? I invite you to pay some gentle attention to what that story or sharing, you know, a particular point might be, that you felt resonated with you

[00:35:18]
Two: Ponder – I invite you to stay a little longer with what had come to your attention as you listened, right – to your own reactions, as you were listening to the conversation. Can you identify what emotion you're feeling? Is it a sense of recognition? Like, ah, yes – that's what it was. Is it relief? Sadness? Anger? Just stay with yourself a little longer, you know, to take notice of what you're feeling, you know, don't rush out of this step.

[00:36:04]
Three: Act – at the end of the last episode, I had invited you to find a photograph of yourself as a child. Now, I invite you to look at that photo now. Do you remember how you were at that age? Even if you don't have much recall memory, here's an exercise I would like to invite you to do.

[00:36:31]
In today's episode, we learned from Dr. Jean Cheng that a part of that child that we used to be, still lives in us today. We also learned that our inner child has been wounded and neglected, you know, even by us. So, look at that photo of your younger self. Can you remember or imagine what it was that you had most needed or desired to hear when you were that age from your caregivers and authority figures?

[00:37:02]
So, let me share with you what mine was. When I was doing inner child reparenting work, I realized that my little inner child's unspoken question – a question that she was like, almost too afraid to ask, but which she always wished or wanted to ask was, will you still love me if I'm bad? Will you still love me if I don't achieve, and you know, I don't have accomplishments?

[00:37:31]
Would you still love me if I disappointed? And that what my inner child needed to hear from me, as my adult self was, "you know, Ann, I will always love you. And I will always stay with you no matter how good or bad you are, I will not abandon you. Even if other people abandon you, I will never abandon you".

[00:38:00]
I invite you to gently connect with your inner child. Can you connect with the need that you had back then? And if you can, is there anything that you as your adult-self right now can give as a simple assurance of love and good faith to your inner child?

[00:38:21]
If you don't feel you're ready to do this specific exercise, don't push yourself. Remember that on this interior journey, we go gently, right – compassionately, tenderly. The whole point is we want to be able to offer ourselves, our inner child, that allowance, that permission to go slow, to go at their pace, to not rush them. You know, precisely to let them have that experience that we didn't have when we were little.

[00:38:55]
Okay, so, you know best – you actually know best what you need. So, if you feel you're not ready, don't push. And if you feel that you are, then, you know, just go ahead and do what you feel inspired to, okay? Just as a start. As a start, not too much because really deeper work on this will be best done with an experienced guide, okay.

[00:39:20]
With a counsellor, a therapist, or a spiritual director that is well-versed in inner child work. But for now, you know, it may just be enough if you can just gaze at the photo of your younger self and tell yourself, right – tell that younger self that you would like to get to know him or her, if it's okay.

[00:39:42]
You know, like, you can say, "Hey, Ann" – if I was speaking to myself – "Ann, you know, I realized, I don't know you. Would it be okay if I got to know you? Will you let me be your friend?" Right. Just as you would speak to any child and that could itself be a lovely beginning. Okay, and then we can just leave it at that.

[00:40:12]
So, that's it for today's episode. I hope that you will find rest, even as you listen to what has been shared and that you will look forward to, or are looking forward to the final part to this series with Dr. Jean Cheng, which will drop in two weeks time.

[00:40:22] 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!

Dr. Jean Cheng Profile Photo

Dr. Jean Cheng

Clinical Psychologist

Jean is a Clinical Psychologist practising in Singapore. She trained in Melbourne, Australia, graduated with a First-Class honours, was awarded the Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship to pursue and complete both her PhD and Masters in Clinical Psychology. Since her adolescent years, Jean has been passionate about alleviating human suffering and helping others (and herself) experience freedom from the inner prisons that limit one from living life to the fullest. Her special interest is in helping her clients build a nurturing relationship with themselves. This informs her passion for inner child work. She believes that when we are able to see, pay attention, and honour the inner child in all of us, we are then rewarded with the joy, curiousity, confidence, courage, purpose, wisdom, and contentment that a child who is loved and secure embodies naturally.