Inner child work is amazing—done right. A lot of the current, main-stream stuff is asinine. More about that here. When you want to start it can be confusing. And I don’t want you wasting your time thinking you need someone to talk to you like a little kid for it to work.
So I’m going to share a technique you can use to start inner-child work the right way. It’s a simple technique that I created! Using it changed my life, it’s derived from my take on inner-child work that I’m calling TPR or Thought Pattern Rework.
Circles Technique— TPR
In the family structure there are one or two caregivers and the child. In that structure the caregivers have an equal footing. So imagine it like two equal sized circles:
The child does not have an equal say. They are still learning and don’t have as much responsibility. However, even though the child doesn’t have as much of a say, their thoughts still have value and worth. The child should always be able to have autonomy, have their voice heard, considered and validated. Healthy family circles look like this:
However, if we grew up in an environment where we weren’t allowed to have a say. Or our thoughts and opinions were not respected. Or we were ignored, invalidated and got in trouble for vocalizing our opinions, our circles may have look like this:
Affect Later in Life
If there was an unhealthy family dynamic, and if we were invalidated as a kid, we can develop the belief that our opinions don’t matter. We go about life thinking we have a smaller circle than everyone else since that’s how we were treated in childhood.
It can look like:
- Thinking our thoughts aren’t valid
- Not expressing our thoughts
- Allowing others to have a say when they shouldn’t
- Putting others above us
- Thinking others are better than us
- Feeling like we don’t deserve as much as others
- Not trusting our own instincts
- Looking to others for constant advice
- Letting others make decisions for us
- Feeling unable to make life choices on our own
- Constantly looking for external validation
- Fixed Mindset and Limiting Beliefs
Skewed View of Self Worth
It can make us think, and therefore feel, that others are better than us and that other people’s opinions matter more than our own. We feel that way because that’s what we were shown by how we were treated.
Being treated like that can have us forget that we are worthy, have value, and are deserving.
We were shown our thoughts aren’t valued and we take that on to believe we aren’t valued. And even though we are no longer a child we still operate with the processes that we derived from experiences in childhood.
This kind of dynamic can be particularly triggering when we’re in circumstances of authority or with managers or someone we think is different level than us.
How to Rework
If you realize there was an unhealthy dynamic and you weren’t respected as a child you can use it as an opportunity to revisit those instances.
Pick a specific time when you were invalidated or ignored. Try to remember as much detail as possible. What did you have to say and how did it feel to be ignored? Did you feel sad? Lonely? Did you lie to yourself and act like it was OK—even though it hurt?
Knowing what you know now (that everyone has value and worth no matter of age or other factors) what would you tell younger you? How should you have been treated? How would you treat a child now?
Then remind yourself that you should have been listened to and validated. You are valued and you have worth. Just because you were treated a certain way as a kid does not mean you deserve to be treated that way now. And every person around you is the same sized circle as you—they always were.
We’re All the Same Sized Circles
All of us being the same sized circle means that we all deserve respect and validation. It does not mean that we all have an equal say in every topic. For instance, a parent has more weight than a child. And you have more weight on your life choices than anyone else.
Every being has an equal right to autonomy and validation. No exceptions.
Validation does not mean agreement. We can disagree with someone and also validate them by respecting their autonomy and their right to have an opinion. Remind yourself that you deserve respect and others do too. We don’t need to agree with others and they don’t have to agree with us.
While we deserve respect, that doesn’t make other people respectful. What we deserve and how people act are not connected. Alway remember that you matter and you have worth—even if other people don’t act like it or you think otherwise.
Society Hates Same Sized Circles
Even though we’re all the same sized circle, society encourages us to try and get a bigger circle. It’s suggested we can make our circle bigger by buying things, having fancy titles, or looking a certain way. If we felt like a little circle as a kid we are more susceptible to this belief.
But the belief is bullshit. We all have the same sized circle no matter what you look like, how much money you make and what you buy.
But it doesn’t work. No matter what you do, what you buy, or how hard you try: no one can make their circle bigger. We all have the same sized circle no matter what. This is why some people are never happy and always looking for more and more.
So the only thing people can do is encourage us to think their circles are bigger. When they do this they also trick themselves. They have a lot of help because society supports them in their effort. And if we were taught we had a smaller circle in childhood, we’re likely supporting them too. We think and feel our circle is smaller, even though it’s not. We give away our power.
Weight Down Your Circle
Just because we can’t make our circle bigger, doesn’t mean we can’t weigh it down. We weigh it down with self-worth, self-love and validation. Continually remind yourself that you are worthy, you are valuable, and you are deserving.
Weighing down your circle is finding self-love, inner tranquility & peace.
You can do this during a conversation. If you aren’t feeling particularly confident imagine each person having the same size circle. Each person deserves to be listened to and respected—even if there’s an imbalance like a manager/employee relationship.
You can start by thinking of a past experience when you felt small. Imagine the situation where everyone is the same sized circle. The more you do this the closer you will get to thinking of it in the current moment.
Do this in the morning when you brush your teeth. Repeat to yourself: “I’m worthy, I’m valuable, and I’m deserving.” Remind yourself everyone has the same size circle no matter what.
That my friends is how you do inner-child work. None of that “playing with children to feel like a child” bullshit. I’m excited to share it with you because it changed my life! I’m honored to share it with you because you deserve to feel the happiness and love that I feel now.
You are worthy. You have value. You are deserving.
So really take some time here and think about how you interact with others and how you were treated as a child. If you put others above you. Or if you think others are smarter, better, or have more value than you, than you may have been tricked into thinking you don’t have value and worth.
You will carry this with you throughout your entire life until you stop the thought cycle and realize that we are all the same circle. Remember, we are all worthy, have value and are deserving. No one is more or less worthy than you.
Image by Wokandapix