Many thanks for those who responded to last week’s message. Its difficult to write about subjects that are so personal, yet, knowing that they are helping makes it worthwhile. Today’s topic is yet another epitaph any born of this same situation. I hope it will help take you a step further in your own healing.
Anxiety and the Inner Child
Talking with my brother George one evening this past week I asked, “What do you think is causing your anxiety?” I wanted him to look beneath the surface to discover it’s source, a source I had ventured to counseled him on months before, but to no avail. I recall wondering why I was again, taking the time and energy to work with him, after all, my attempts to introduce George to the concept of an inner child had led nowhere: he just wasn’t ready. Still, something told me to go ahead.
George’s response to my initial question was that he didn’t know the source of his anxiety. “Are you willing to find it?” I asked.
“Yes.” He replied.
The Inner Child’s Cry
Again, I wondered why I was trying this again when it had failed to take root previously, but something made me try. As I searched within, I felt as if a conduit opened in my mind and the answer literally poured in. “At the core of your anxiety is terror,” I answered, “and that terror is a cry coming from your inner child.”
I took a moment to think about that before continuing. So the terror that we feel when we experience anxiety is the terrified cry of our inner child. Hmm…
Continuing on, I explained, “that that terror comes from the inner child being traumatized by the threat of death for a past mistake. The person threatening the child is the parent. That parent is the Self, the conscious part of you that is speaking with me.”
George was silent on the other end of the line as he took in what I was saying.
“You’ve been lamenting over the past and how your mistakes have ruined your life,” I continued, “and you believe those mistakes are unforgivable. Where does that belief come from Pat?” I asked.
“From Mom and Dad.” He replied.
If you are like George and I who grew up with perfectionist parents, you know the absolute horror that you feel when you’ve been caught making a mistake. For us, it was the worst thing that we could do. As children not being able to understand that “this too shall pass” we felt intense feelings of fear, self-loathing, and worthlessness, along with the dread of believing this was the end: we were going to die from the pain. We felt we weren’t worthy of living. For some of you, those statements may seem a bit dramatic, but I assure you that it exactly how it felt.
When I reminded George of this he immediately agreed. He also realized that his inability to let go of the past was rooted in this old response.
Up until George was about 39, he led an exemplary life. Good career choices along with the decision to marry a wonderful woman, led to a life of financial security, a good marriage and 2 beautiful, healthy daughters. Yet, it appears now that anxiety led George to make careful, calculated decisions so that he would not have to feel those old feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing that, as kids, we all felt for making an mistake. We realize this now because whenever George did make the occasional mistake, no matter how insignificant, he would agonize over it for weeks.
“George,” I said as we ended our conversation, “you could either choose to change that belief about mistakes, or continue to obsess about the past until it drives you mad. Your little boy is begging to be released from the past, to be allowed to live in the present, to start life over and actually feel joy again. Its up to you to allow this. No drugs, no shock treatment or anything else is needed; you simply have to let go, realize mistakes are forgivable, and bring the horror to an end.”
In closing, I’m not sure what George decidedas I’ve not been able to talk with him since. I often wonder why such a sensitive, intelligent and kind soul would choose this type of situation. Perhaps this is how he intends to put this perfectionism behind him. Regardless of why, I am grateful that something good is coming from all the pain. I sense his guides hard a work here and I am grateful and honored to share any and all the wisdom they provide.