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  • One of the more consistently confronting  and at times embarrassing concepts that  

  • psychology forces us to consider  is that of aninner child.’ All  

  • of us have along the years made  such efforts to become adults,  

  • it can be at once grating and dispiriting to be  told that there might, nevertheless, be aninner  

  • childstill lodged somewhere within us. But in truth, we contain within ourselves  

  • a version of all the people we have  ever been. There is, in recessive form,  

  • somewhere in the folds of our natures, a confused  teenager, a sad child, a jealous or hungry infant.  

  • No version of us entirely disappearsit is merely added to and buttressed,  

  • just like an oak tree that still contains, in its  rings, the marks of all its former circumferences

  • Furthermore, if we follow the psychological  thesis, some of our inner children are likely not  

  • to be especially well. They might be dealing with  a hurt that they have no idea how to cope with,  

  • they might have suffered a loss without any  chance to understand who and what is to blame,  

  • they might be lonely, distressed or ashamedNo one might have taken proper care of them  

  • during a crisis or bothered to sympathise  with their unusual difficulties at school

  • Despite their pain, it isn’t that the inner  child’s cries are in any danger of breaking  

  • through into the public realm. That is precisely  the problem. Inner children cause psychic distress  

  • not because they are too present, but because  they are not present enough. They have been too  

  • effectively locked away. Their cries have been  seamlessly forgotten and ignored. They have been  

  • pushed into a sound-proof chamber from which  no murmur emerges. And yet still they exist

  • We are dealing with unwanted restless ghosts  who have not been appeased or understood - but  

  • whose ongoing ignored unhappiness  threatens the course of our lives

  • The task ahead requires a perhaps even  more grating and obtuse word: reparenting.  

  • The inner child needs to be identified, their  distinctive troubles understood and their pains  

  • soothed and becalmed. In a perfect world, it is  parents themselves who would carry out this work  

  • at the time the difficulties arose. But in the  real world, some of the work gets left behind  

  • and lingers, which requires a bizarre-sounding  manoeuvre to correct. We - as adults - need to  

  • become parents to the children we once wereWe need to gather together our adult capacities  

  • for kindness, reassurance, empathy, generosity  and warmth and direct these towards the three  

  • or five or fifteen year olds who still exist  in our minds. We need to take stock of these  

  • young people’s sorrows and help them in a way they  were not helped at the time in the name of helping  

  • ourselves right now; for we are standing on their  shoulders - and can only be as stable as they are

  • It’s when we can directly imagine whatgood and kind person might have said to us,  

  • and yet when we are simultaneously aware of  how little anyone did actually say, that we  

  • might be suffused with compassionate tears for our  former selves; we may register a trapped sadness  

  • that at last has an opportunity to be seen, worked  through and expunged. We might feel a lot lighter  

  • afterwards and we might then regularly - perhaps  late at night - repeat the exercise: revisiting  

  • the inner child and bringing them an extra dose of  comfort and tenderness so that they (and we, for  

  • we rest as a collective) might sleep more easily. We probably know well enough how to treat real  

  • children around us: true liberation  awaits us when we finally learn to  

  • treat the children inside us with as much  tolerance, patience and warm encouragement.

One of the more consistently confronting  and at times embarrassing concepts that  

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