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The Little Girl Inside - long

Posted by Daisym on November 4, 2006, at 15:47:56

I've been thinking about what to write about this in a way that doesn't sound sort of nuts. Sunny asked if thinking about certain feelings was easier or harder if we let them belong to the little girl inside. For me it has been both. If I could simply think about these feelings as young, and then classify them as "the little girl" it might be easier. Problem with me is, I FEEL young -- I can speak from that place.

So I think there is a huge difference between inner child work, and frozen age states. I think all humans have an inner child - young feelings that come up when we feel particularly playful or silly, or scared or lonely or sad. We carry around the need to be nurtured, and that is a healthy need. It allows us empathy to other people's need to be nurtured. I think for most people they accept these young feelings as part of who they are because the feelings don't take over, at least not very often.

I think therapy calls out these youngish feelings in a way that almost nothing else does -- especially that need to be nurtured. And in therapy we examine our feelings, so we might be more in touch with our inner child, and which feelings belong to her, than we would otherwise. So many of those childlike feelings make us feel ashamed, wasn't the goal in life to "grow up?" How many times have we all heard - "stop acting like a child. Grow Up!" And yet here we are, sitting with someone who is telling us that we need to love and care for this part of us. Especially if that part is wounded. It makes sense that we would be conflicted and want to squash that part of ourselves. It also makes sense to resist that urge and see nurturing that part as self-care. It takes some work to get comfortable with that. IRL you just do it privately. But in therapy you are doing it in the presences of someone else. So it feels like it could be judged -- because most of us have experiences of childlike behavior being judged as bad. It is just darn hard.

Ego states are different, imo. I have at least three major ego states, in addition to my adult self. I can be 5 or 9 or 11/12ish. That doesn't mean I lose contact with the rest of myself, but if I let myself sink into just being 5, like if I'm talking about a memory, I really enter all those feelings and it feels very "in the moment." I often don't have the vocabulary to explain what I'm trying to say, I ask questions from that place and I want things that my adult self would never, ever want - like wrapping myself around my therapist's leg and never letting go, or hiding under his desk. I use to be furious with my therapist for talking back directly to these younger parts, or even asking if I could let that part come forward. It is very powerful, this connection between my younger parts and my therapist. And very healing, because he is so accepting and to most of these parts he feels very safe. There has been a consolidation of skills and strength as we allowed these parts time in therapy. But it is very, very scary sometimes. If I don't get put back together, I often have no idea what to do for a while. So I think if you are going to work like this, you really do need someone who can handle how demanding these ego states can be and who can recognize when and how to back off.

All that said, I have a hard time nurturing my younger parts. Sometimes I can do it. But they carry so much pain and I get so mortified about being in parts and pieces. It is hard for me to admit that I can't just "own" all my memories and handle stuff - that I have split off like this and I still need to think about it as having happened to "her" not "me."

I don't know if I helped at all or just made things murkier. Pfinstegg is a lot better at describing frozen ego states and what it feels like, than I am. I hope she is around and can help you with this question.




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