Q - I don’t mean that I don't have any friends, I have several. I also have a loving partner and kids. The problem is, no matter who I’m with or what I’m doing I still have this underlying feeling of flatness, and dullness. It’s like a feeling of sadness, of waiting, and of being shut down and alone. I know I felt like this as a kid but I’d have thought it would have gone now that I’ve disowned my abusive parents and started my own family. I wish I could be free of this feeling, but how?
A - I suspected that you’d had either a neglectful or abusive childhood as I started to read your e-mail – and so I wasn’t surprised to read that later comment about your parents.
I don’t know what type of abuse you suffered but it will inevitably have left an imprint upon your developing psyche, and your sense of yourself and what you should expect in life.
I know myself that those old ‘core feelings’ which dominated our childhood do still linger around in adulthood. They lurk in the background whilst we are busy being in ‘role’ and carrying out the activities of our everyday lives.
It’s in the quiet moments of stillness that we reconnect with those old core feelings – and many people actively avoid doing so.
They intentionally distract themselves and keep busy - to get some longed for, yet temporary, distance from their deeper thoughts and feelings.
Other people might try to self-medicate their feelings away... but that doesn't work either.
No one wants to wallow in their uncomfortable or painful core childhood feelings!
In spite of any efforts to squash or wipe out these feelings, our inner child still feels them regularly. No amount of ‘quick fixes’ help the inner child to process and release their old stuck feelings.
You have described your own CCFs (core childhood feeling), and for someone else these feelings might be those of fear, or anger, or despair, or incompetence, or inadequacy or feeling unlovable.
All of these are the feelings of a wounded and depleted inner child. A child that wasn’t treated well enough for them to feel better about themselves.
You have already taken the first big step – acknowledging your own core childhood feelings. Identifying and naming them also helps to loosen their power to darken your days.
The next step is in expressing the reason for the CCF… to explore what you did and didn’t get in childhood that has left your inner child ‘waiting in the wings’ and feeling alone in the dark.
I suggest you write this down – but please remember that you may need some objective professional help to support you emotionally (as unexpected things might surface and unsettle you).
This is a process which needs to be taken slowly and sensitively.
If someone you loved was distressed you would, I’m sure, take your time to find the cause, and to help them to make sense of, express and release their feelings and emotional reactions. You must take this sensitive approach with yourself now.
As vulnerable children we were like sponges that soaked up the bad feelings in the family - and then we blamed ourselves for feeling bad. We must now separate the past from the present and prevent it from contaminating the future.
There are some free resources on my website (below) and I have inexpensive self-help course available called ‘How To Sort Yourself Out – without therapy!’ which will help you to make sense of your early experiences and to re-parent and heal your inner child.
If you wanted my help one-to-one or within one of my coaching programmes, then these are also available to you from my main website.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharley.com – where you’ll find a page of FREE RESOURCES which will help you to understand your core childhood feelings - and how to become free of them and to make your peace with the past
www.maxineharleymentoring.com - Therapeutic self-development mentoring to help women to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours... and to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better in their lives
www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk - 10 online self-help workshops - to help you to help yourself to a calmer happier life. Help with anxiety, depression, anger, stress, self-esteem/confidence, balance your mind and weight, mindful living, how to be happier, understanding yourself and understanding relationships
www.qpp.uk.com - a new therapeutic method designed to unearth and revise unhelpful sub-conscious beliefs and S.C.R.I.P.T. - Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time