Inner Child: lessons in control

The Inner Child – Lessons in Control

I’m reminded of a time when my inner child was desperate to control me, and everything and everyone in my life in order to feel safe.

Here’s the story as it unfolded:

I noticed I was getting edgy and defensive.  I was reacting and jumping at little things.  My ability to let the “small stuff” roll off my shoulders wasn’t working.  It was a time when I couldn’t just witness my feelings and stay open.  It was intense.  I was feeling emotions like hurt and rejection because I was taking things personally, way more than usual.  This was causing me to shut down at the drop of a hat, enough for me to take notice and question:

What the heck is going on?

This isn’t like me?  Then I looked back.  I remembered a layer of vulnerability had surfaced after returning from Peru/Bolivia, where I suffered from life-threatening dysentery.  The trip had removed a hard, crusted layer of defense, like a mollusk who just shed its shell.  This new layer didn’t have the protection I was used to, leaving me feeling open and unarmed.  It was a bit scary.

My mother had also just passed away.

I was beginning to understand . . . this could explain what was happening.  I wasn’t sure and felt there was something missing.

I knew I was experiencing different, more intense and more frequent reactions and shutting down.  As it turned out, the source of my radical behavior was being generated from the new vulnerability my inner child was feeling from me.  She wanted my attention . . . now, more so than ever before.  I had done layers of inner child healing work in the past which allowed me to get this deep into addressing my core fear which is fear itself.

My inner child was feeling unsafe.  Too many things were threatening her sense of security.  Things were happening she couldn’t control.  She came to me looking for safety and assurance, and I failed her right off the bat.

I mistook her insecurities and fear as my own, identifying with them and acting them out . . . like a child.

A very common mistake.  I thought it was me who was feeling unsafe, hurt and rejected because I was without my old defenses.  I was stuck having to feel everything . . . not pleasant, but necessary because it got my attention.  The timing was perfect for a healing.

When we take things personally and shut down, we then identify with our inner child’s fear, muddling the two together.  In this state, we can’t provide her/him any reassurance that they’re safe.  In fact, it’s the opposite:

“You’re not safe and can’t count on me to look after you because I am otherwise occupied, believing I’m being attacked and having to defend myself against perceived hurts which I’m taking personally.”

We can help our inner child heal if we remain clear about what’s ours and what’s theirs.  When we feel fear from our inner child, we can reassure him or her that they are safe, that we are here, and will take care of them.  If we happen to slip and identify with our inner child’s feelings, we need to be kind to both of us, brush ourselves off and be more vigilant next time.  In time your inner child will be able to heal and grow from this timeline and integrate fully.

Since making the distinction between my inner child’s feelings and my own, I could see the extent to which my inner child had used control to help her deal with her fear.  It’s massive.  It touches every area of my life.

The worse part being it’s all been a bunch of lies:

  • I thought I was the one in control of my life
  • My inner child thought she had to control everything in order to be safe
  • Her fear is my fear
  • It’s possible to control everything in my life
  • Controlling everything in my life will keep me safe
  • Control is freedom and happiness
  • I believe I’m happier alone, in a closed, contained environment
  • I’ll do it my way and so will you

Here’s what my illusion of life looks like “in control”:

  • Control keeps my world small and limited
  • I am always tired, unexpressive, and predictable
  • I judge those who will not comply
  • Change is unwelcomed and scary
  • I panic if things get out-of-hand
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • I must keep up the pretense that I’m in control
  • I am miserable in relationships trying to control someone else

It’s a relief to have this understanding and to let go of trying to control everything because your inner child is scared.  It leaves you free to focus on healing this very scared little one when needed.  The people in your life will be especially happy too!

More information on healing the inner child and healing fragmentation:

Healing the Inner Child

There’s a wealth of information available to help with healing the inner child.  For the purpose of this blog post, I’d like to share from my own personal experience. I’m not an expert on the subject in general, but I am an expert on successfully healing my own inner child.  My hope is that in…

Continue reading

Understanding and Healing Fragmentation

I remember leaving my body a few times as a child, flying down the stairs.  I recall waking up one morning thinking: Wow!  That was fun, I want to do it again!  At the time, I didn’t have a clue why this was happening.  Now, I realize I dissociated from my body during trauma.  This…

Continue reading

9 responses to “The Inner Child – Lessons in Control”

  1. A G Avatar
    A G

    Dear Donna….lovely post….very helpful to me at the juncture I am at…helped me improve my awareness of why I am behaving the way I am….especially the concept of separating your response from your inner child’s response and looking at them as two distinct responses….I am doing some inner child healing myself through art therapy and trying to figure out how it works….glad to know it is an independent journey by itself that one should undertake separately……appreciate your putting this article up on the internet for everyone to learn and benefit from….Thanks once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Path to My Heart Avatar

      Hi AG. Very nice to hear about your experience!! So glad my post helped you along in your journey with your inner child. It is a very special and worthwhile journey!! Art therapy is a wonderful tool, I did some of it myself. It’s quite reveling. Give yourself a lot of credit for taking on this very special healing, and for listening to your inner child who really just needs love and caring. Thanks again for sharing, much appreciated!! Take care! Donna


    1. DonnaG Avatar

      Nice post!! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. AmyRose🌹 Avatar

    Donna, you have just described my husband. He’s in major child mode right now because of our loss of Echo, and I have no ability to reach him. He’s also stepped up the control in everything around him and when he attempts to apply that to me I say no way. You could say it is really upsetting in this house due to his behavior and there is nothing I can do about it until he SEES the child that is having the tantrum. I pray he WAKES up because he acts like this every single time a major stressor hits our lives. Grrrrrrrr ……..


    1. Donna Guillemette Avatar

      Hi Amy,
      I feel for the both of you right now. There have been so many recent losses within your family unit which stir things within us – like fear. I hear your frustration! As you’ve stated, your husband’s inner child is scared and acting out and does not know how to cope with all this loss and change. Like what happens with me at times, my big self gets lost in the little self and I think it’s me with the problem so no one is steering the ship! Perhaps in a subtle way you could let your husband know he (and his child) are safe. That might be all he needs to hear – that things have happened and changed, but yes, he is safe and it’s ok to feel what he is feeling. Many hugs to you Amy and much love. So sorry to hear about Echo. ❤️


      1. AmyRose🌹 Avatar

        Donna, my family has been tremendously hit with Incredible loss back to back to back. I myself as you can well imagine, am reeling and it is taking everything that I know how to, to pull myself together and continue on. Echo was my husband’s guardian angel for lack of a better word. This cat was incredibly intuitive and knew exactly where my husband was and what he needed. Even our neighbors commented on how they have never seen any can’t act like he did with my husband. He was my husband’s Shadow, His buddy, always there. He represented a lot more for me and I loved him it away I cannot put into words. As for dealing with the little child that has now emerged, I have learned not to reciprocate which is extremely difficult to do, and to wait it out. I have learned I must withdraw for anything I say or do will trigger this child no matter what. My husband has to see for himself what is happening and so I pray that with my continued actions in my own way of doing things my husband will wake up. Thank you for your concern, dear friend. I write these words to you in a state of almost unbelief at how much tragedy has fallen on our home. Bless you for understanding.


        1. Donna Guillemette Avatar

          Dear Amy,
          My heart goes out to you both as you are feeling and experiencing the tremendous amount of grief that has visited your doorstep. The physical presence of the people and pets you have lost can not be replaced as they all have special places in your hearts. I know you are doing the best you can and my thoughts and prayers are with you. Much love, Donna

          Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts…

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: