Do you struggle with,
Letting go of the past?
Continually engaging in behaviors that are harmful to you or others?
Addictions of any kind?
I will be answering why you might be struggling with these things in a two part series that looks at our God given emotions, the importance of them, and ways we often suppress them that negatively affects us.
Much of this article will be based on John Bradshaw’s book called, “Homecoming” which proposes that we all have an “Inner hurting child” from the past who manifests himself or herself in unhealthy ways as we get older as a result of unresolved emotions.
To put it more simply, if you were hurt or traumatized when you were younger and never never addressed those hurts when you got older, you would resort to the behaviors of the age you were hurt at.
Bradshaw highlights 6 ways that our inner hurt child contaminates our lives (Hurts)
As you can see, the highlighted part spells out the word “Contaminate.” Lets take a look at what these are.
Co-dependence is described in the book as a loss of identify (unaware of one’s needs, desires, and feelings). This usually happens when a child is in a family or environment that doesn’t allow the healthy expression of their emotions. The child then becomes “Co-dependent” on the parents because they in affect abandon themselves.
The last sentence might sound a little confusing so let me clarify what happens here. The reason a child essential abandons him or herself is because our God given emotions are a part of us, engrained in our DNA, and when a child has to reject their emotions they are in essence, rejecting themselves.
The result of this is that it leads to feelings of shame, guilt, and self-doubt.
Offender behavior is when we act out inappropriately towards others. Bradshaw describes that we tend “act out” in the only way that we know how (how our parents/caretakers modeled their emotions).
You can see how this might be good or bad right?
For example, a child who grows up in an abusive home is likely to identify with how the parent(s) model their own emotions, in this case, violence.
Another example could be a parent who spoils their children.
According to the book, when children are spoiled they tend to develop a, ‘I’m superior than others’ attitude. This is something that becomes a learned behavior and as children grow older they lose all sense of responsibility and believe they deserve special treatment.
Trust issues develop when parents/caretakers are untrustworthy. All of a sudden, the outside world becomes a dangerous place to children and they develop a deep sense of distrust.
For example, as a child, my mother divorced twice, once when I was seven and again around the age of 13. Both times my father and step-father had cheated on my mom. As I grew older I put up walls and barriers to give people the illusion that everything was “ok,” when I was really crying for help on the inside.
I didn’t let anyone in because I didn’t trust anyone, including God at the time.
Acting out/in is a common behavior among people who are hurt from the past. According to Bradshaw, when our inner child is hurt, our emotions and feelings become frozen in the time when we were hurt.
Since they couldn’t be expressed in a healthy way we tend to express it in an abnormal behavior (acting in/out).
According to Bradshaw, Non-disciplined behaviors are a result of parents who fail to model healthy discipline. When a parent or parents/caretakers fail to do this (lack of discipline), the chid becomes stubborn and compulsive in their behaviors.
In part two I will go over the remaining ways that our inner child contaminates our adult lives. I will also explain how I think God fits into all of this.
What are some hurts you struggle to deal with today? How do you handle them?