Re-parenting yourself after childhood trauma
The foundation for every relationship you have is significantly influenced by the relationship with your parent/s. This relationship with your parents has the most profound influence on your emotional development. So, ideally our parents would teach us emotional regulation, resilience, how to be aware of our needs and find healthy ways to get them met, how to set and handle boundaries, how too authentically and consciously create relationships and emotional maturity. The problem is, they are human and have their own limitations!
The most impactful time in our lives is birth to the age of six. During this time, without question, we internalise everything that is spoken to us, including messages about who we are. This developmental phase is an exceptionally ego-centric period. So what does this means? To children it means that everything is personal, we believe everything happens to us, because of us. This is because the many reasons for people’s behaviours are lost on us as a result of our low level of ego maturity. The problem is, this awareness can sometimes still be lacking in adulthood.
When you were younger did you hear direct messages like “you're too sensitive or “you need to go to school and become a doctor”. Or did you experience indirect messages, potentially a parent detached from you when you didn’t do something well or denied something happened to you because that reality was too painful for them to acknowledge. The result of indirect and direct messages like this is conditioning. In order to survive we adopt behaviours and core beliefs. The thing is, being loved by caregivers is the biggest factor that influences these learnings. So this conditioning leads us to betray, deny or repress parts of ourselves. We believe that something must be wrong with us if a parent couldn’t see, love and validate us. When in actual fact, our parents are just projecting their own wounds and unresolved traumas on to us.
Something I want to address is the idea that traumas are “big” events. This isn’t necessarily the case and in actual fact it isn’t the event at all but how the event is processed. So much shame and suffering is caused by the belief that a scale of trauma with a simple measure exists. The truth is, trauma is not just severe neglect and abuse. Any experience where the emotional response was too “big” to process is the core of trauma. Coping mechanisms and behaviours develop in order to survive if these events happened chronically. If we feel unauthentically expressed, unseen or unheard then we have potentially experienced trauma. So in order to distract us from our pain we desperately seek the next thing and we operate in survival mode.
A feeling of “I should be fine” is often present in people with unresolved trauma because trauma is so misunderstood. In fact, some people even feel guilt for the emotional issues they’re facing. Most people truly don’t understand that these emotions are cries for healing and as a result internal shaming and cycles of self betrayal continue.
Now the thing is, as adults we have the opportunity, but also the responsibility to become the wise inner parent to ourselves! This process is called the reparenting process. It is the practice of giving yourself what a parent could not give! Your child self is the key to understanding your adult self.
So you might be reading this and thinking, how do I know if I need reparenting? If you experience low self worth, emotional addiction, chronic fear of criticism, dysfunctional relationship dynamics, self betrayal (not keeping your word to yourself), childlike fantasies (wanting to be fixed or saved) or codependency with chronic neglect to self to fulfil emotional need through another then it is possible you have experienced childhood trauma.
In addition to these qualities, there are a few different roles that individuals take on as a result of childhood trauma. If you are still questioning your experiences take a look and see if any of these descriptions resonate with you.
The caretaker- dynamics of codependency and enmeshment typically produce this role. Does neglecting your needs in order to meet another’s needs help you feel a sense of identity and self worth? The caretaker often views others as a means to feel wanted.
The overachiever- As a way to cope with low self worth, external achievement is used in an attempt to feel seen, heard and valued. The overachiever views others as a way to source self esteem.
The underachiever- Due to a fear of criticism or shame that was once experienced the underachiever attempts to stay small, unseen and below authentic potential. They often view others as threatening and distrusting.
The rescuer/protector- As an attempt to heal from the time they were vulnerable and in need of protection, the rescuer/protector ferociously attempts to rescue or protect those around them. They often views others as helpless, incapable and dependent.
The life of the party- If this is you, you are often the happy cheerful comedic person. You rarely, if ever, show pain or vulnerability. More than likely, your emotional state in childhood was feeling shamed. The life of the party use other’s enjoyment of them as a way to demonstrate they are ok.
The always available one- You often neglect all of your needs and drop everything 24/7. A pattern of self sacrifice and codependency was modelled for you as a child. The always available one often views others as a way to demonstrate they’re both good and selfless.
The hero worshipper- Often has an unresolved childhood wounding from a caregivers. Parents are often viewed as super human, “perfect”and without fault. In order to fulfil family system roles the hero worshipper often rejects needs, desires and autonomy. They tend to view others as a way to show what perfection looks like.
Now if you have identified that you are in need of reparenting, you are probably wondering, what is the reparenting process!? Here are my tips on how you can be the parent you always deserved.
Engage in self care which includes nutrition, practicing boundaries, prioritise movement, connect with nature, conscious awareness and breath work. If you would like to read more about self care and how to execute it you can read the blog on self soothing on our website!
Partake in and enjoy discipline- This involves keeping one small promise daily in order to help build the foundation of habits and rituals.
Learn to say no to what does not serve you.
Learn to set boundaries and stick to them.
Find play! Create human connection, connect to childlike curiosity, cultivate a new hobby, do something unplanned, help someone (without sacrificing yourself), listen to music or create something.
Become your own wise inner parent by validating your own reality and feelings by observing them rather than judging yourself for how you feel. Pausing throughout the day and asking “what can do for myself in this moment?”
Place your hands on your heart and say to yourself “I am safe” when you feel scared, frustrated or unsure.
A little reminder that having to reparent does not mean you had “bad” parents. All parents are limited because of their own experiences, emotions and childhoods. So be kind to yourself and take the time to learn to be everything that your inner child deserves!