Your inner child is a term which refers to the hurt part of you, the neglected or abused part that desires understanding and support. Because it’s scared and lonely, feels vulnerable and abandoned, it seeks the nurturing it never received.
Your outer child is the part of you that “acts out” in hasty and irrational ways, prompted by overpowering and unexpressed feelings from your past. Generally, all “acting out” behaviours are geared towards blocking tension or anxiety via uncontrolled venting of thoughts, feelings and desires.
Unfortunately, this venting is governed by the emotional part of your brain, not your thinking brain. This outer child who vents is the impulsive, unrestrained part of you that acts with no thought to consequences for you or your partner. It demands immediate gratification and causes you to sulk, withdraw or explode into rages, usually aimed at those you care about most, like your partner.
It also causes you to abandon jobs that you promised you’d do because they require self-discipline and perseverance to fulfil, attributes which your outer child does not have. Your impulsive child part literally hijacks your adult part, overriding your more considered preferences. It literally causes you to “flip your lid”. Even when you know what’s in your best interests, and in the best interests of your relationship, if you do not learn how to manage this outer child it can sabotage your life.
When you indulge in getting instant relief, you end up feeling worse about yourself. For the sake of immediate gratification, you sacrifice what’s actually much more satisfying and meaningful to you, your self-respect and your relationship. By reacting from your outer child, you are allowing your impulsive emotional brain to run, and ruin, your life.
It’s important that your inner child, or emotional self, be firmly but gently managed (not suppressed) by your more rational adult self. Your inner child needs to be heard and attended to in responsible ways- this is what self-nurturing and self-soothing is all about. But your outer child needs to be managed and held back from acting out. If you let your impulses run free, negative repercussions are inevitable. You cannot take back what you’ve done or said.
When you react strongly to something, that’s exactly the time to stop, step back and ask yourself “Can I afford to act on this feeling?” Most probably you’ve been triggered, or your imagination’s running wild, or you’re feeling angry, scared or depressed. These are all normal, human states governed by your emotional brain which hijacks your adult self, making your thinking brain, or logical judgment inaccessible. This is when you need to do everything in your power to get a grip on your outer child to stop it acting out. Even though this is hard to do, it’s incredibly important.
What you can do:
Go for a fast walk or jog, do some pushups, clean your house, have a cool shower or relaxing bath, write, paint, do some slow breathing, listen to soothing music or call a good friend. Do anything that works for you because it’s essential that you learn to quiet down your emotions.
What you must not do:
Don’t relentlessly pursue your partner trying to get an immediate resolution to your anxiety. And don’t obstinately withdraw from your partner to avoid the fear that you’re feeling. Do not use drugs, alcohol or engage in any impulsive, self-harming behaviour to block the feelings.
These are your feelings and only you can learn to manage them. When you feel calmer and your adult self, your thinking brain is back on board, that’s the time to approach your partner to arrange a conversation to repair any rupture to your relationship. Remember, the emotional reasoning of your inner and outer child may masquerade as rational, but from an adult perspective they’re anything but!
Having a successful relationship requires you to manage your own inner and outer child instead of expending your good energy in trying to change your partner. Doing this will give you an increased sense of personal power, self-esteem and integrity because you will be building a more secure relationship in which both of you can help each other heal from past wounds.
You deserve the best trained relationship coaches if you’re planning to invest time and money in your relationship. If you’re not ready to book an appointment, call us on 0421 961 687 to book a FREE 10 minute phone consultation to discuss how we may be able to assist you.