Two Selves Within: How Your Adult Can Help Your Inner Child Become Resourceful Again, Inside Out part 2

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are managing in today’s world. You at least have access to a computer. You can probably drive a car or navigate the bus or metro system. You can buy groceries, probably cook at least a simple meal. Likely you have or have had a job or are in school. Possibly you have a partner, children or maybe elders you are responsible for, in addition to managing yourself. In short, you are an adult.

Read more: Two Selves Within: How Your Adult Can Help Your Inner Child Become Resourceful Again, Inside Out part 2

Finding the Self through the Soma - Inside Out or Outside In?

Podcast of this article:

Don and I rarely have time to go to the movies, let alone a children’s movie. Last week we ventured into the theatre to see Disney and Pixar’s new film, Inside Out. In it, the film explores the roller coaster of emotions that the protagonist, an 11 year old girl named Riley, experiences when her parents uproot her from her secure home in Minnesota to move to San Francisco. Riley’s emotions, in the form of five characters – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust – control Riley’s behavior from her “head quarters”. As she navigates through her new world, the tensions and struggles these emotional “characters” encounter show us the basis for Riley’s behavior. The film is charming, fast-paced, and well written, and very useful in showing how little control we actually have over our somatic self.

Read more: Finding the Self through the Soma - Inside Out or Outside In?

Evidence Based Constellations?

If constellation work is to find a home among main-stream healing and therapeutic practices, it needs to be willing to engage those practices in a dialogue of understanding. In this blog post, I explore the topic of “evidence-based practice” and how that applies to constellation work.

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How Constellations Heal the Wound Left by Traumatic Narcissism

Parentification – who is the grown up here?

Sallyann, the young protagonist of our last blog post, is one hard-working little girl (or little boy as the case may be)! Not only does she have to manage the complex demands of growing up in an industrial world, she must constantly assess Mother’s (or the caregiver’s) moods, and guess right what Mother will want at any moment, a quixotic goal for one so young. Especially when Mother’s own disorganized attachment and early childhood trauma keeps her nervous system flipping capriciously between high aggitation (sympathetic arousal), what Sallyann experiences as aggression, and collapse (dorsal vagal arousal), what Sallyann experiences as a fearful absence. Who is the parent here? Sallyann has been placed in charge of Mother’s moods, blamed for Mother’s anger, and is the target of Mother’s internal shame and grief at her own dependency and unmet needs. This child finds herself dancing on a teeter-totter not of her own making. Sallyann is taking care of Mother.

Read more: How Constellations Heal the Wound Left by Traumatic Narcissism

Healing the Narcissistic Wound

     Ten year-old Sallyann peers around the kitchen. The house seems quiet. She gingerly sets her schoolbooks on the counter and sighs. Mother must be out. Maybe she won’t come home today and Father will cook hot dogs tonight. Sallyann drags a chair over to the counter and crawls up on it to reach for the crackers.
     The car door slams and Sallyann flinches. She nearly falls off the chair in her scramble to place it back by the table. Too late to remove her school books.
     The door slams as Mother stomps into the kitchen. Sallyann can smell the alcohol on Mother’s breath.

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Context Matters (Matter is Contextual)

From our July Newsletter Tips & Comments Section:

When I think about selling our home and office of thirty plus years, finding property, finding temporary housing for a year while we build a new home, and moving everything we own, not once but twice, besides feeling overwhelmed I become acutely aware of context. Our homes and offices are the context in which much of our daily lives unfold. They frame and contain the activities, and the relationships, that take place within them. Context is what imparts meaning to the activities of our lives. Just as you wouldn’t expect to have surgery in a restaurant, or to order a meal at the teller’s window of your bank, you don’t expect to have certain kinds of conversations (for example, “pillow talk”) at work, nor negotiate over who is responsible for getting a big [work report written by the boss’s deadline while tucking the kids in for the night. (Unless you have a home office, but more on that later.)

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Anger! Why not saying what you feel might be dangerous to your health.

“I never get angry,” a Woody Allen character says in one of his movies, “I grow a tumour instead.” (1)

In his book, When the Body Says No, physician Gabor Maté presents a clear case for a strong relationship between serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and other slow killers that strike in mid-life, and the dynamics that shape our behavioral patterns as small children. Being the smallest and most dependent members of the family system, we shape ourselves to fit the needs of our older siblings, parents, grandparents. For instance, take the case of a mother who suffers the loss of her own parent while still in the hospital giving birth to her child. This child learns not to challenge or threaten an already stressed and depressed mother in order to stay close to her mother. The child learns to stifle her own desires and needs, in this case, finding freedom of expression only through her music. The young musician in this case was the famous cellist, Jacqueline du Pré who died of MS at age 42.

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Found or Made? Biological vs. Social Systems

How shall we understand ourselves? Especially the complexity of our minds and brains? Here is author Ian McGilchrist’s answer:

“We answer with the model we understand – the only kind of thing we can fully understand, for the simple reason that we made it: the machine.”
–The Master and His Emissary. (2010. Kindle edition, location 826.]

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The Liminal Zone Is a Creative, Playful Space

February in Portland is that awkward month between winter and spring when the daffodils are poking up green shoots but very little is blooming. The weather gives both glimpses of sun and plenty of clouds, rainy alternates with short dry spells.  It’s a between time, a liminal zone between seasons, not really full winter and certainly not spring.

Read more: The Liminal Zone Is a Creative, Playful Space