Healing Imagery: Soothing the hurt child

When others don’t believe you, the pain can be real. You can feel lost inside yourself, trapped by a swirl of chaotic emotions that you don’t know how to deal with. In my case, at least, I often feel the need to “fix things.” To find whatever kinks there are in my machine and repair them. To dig through all the layers and analyze, piece by piece, what needs to be done to make things better-to make things perfect-again.

But sometimes we all just need to sit with the pain. We just need to acknowledge that we are hurt, and that we are having these emotions. My counselor gave me an interesting visual exercise to think on today during our session, and it goes a little something like this:

Sometimes, nobody believes you. Sometimes, others can’t give you the justification you feel that you need. Sometimes, and maybe all your life, there is no one who will simply gather you into their arms, hold you close and softly whisper that everything will be okay. Sometimes, nobody will even notice that anything is wrong.

This is when we need to step in and parent/comfort ourselves. My counselor today brought up a very interesting exercise. Imagine a child inside of yourself. Not in a pregnant sort of way, but just imagine the visual image of a hurt child. A little, weak, vulnerable child that has experienced pain- that could possibly be crying, whimpering, etc. Imagine a small, innocent YOU, at your rawest and most base form of emotion, and picture yourself as that hurt child.

Then imagine yourself comforting that child. Say to that hurt child: everything WILL be okay. I believe you. I know you are hurting right now, but it won’t always be that way. I will take care of you. I will listen to you. And everything WILL be okay.

The point here is not to create multiple personalities for yourself, but rather to be in charge of comforting and believing in yourself. To take a moment to feel the hurt, to feel the pain, or whatever you might be feeling at the time, and accept and love yourself for that. Comfort yourself like you would comfort a small child, crying from a scraped knee. And be as gentle towards yourself as towards that small, hurt child. In psychology, this technique is called “reparenting.” Whether you had bad parents, or simply need to retrain how an abuser warped your perspective, this can be a helpful tool for visual/imaginative learners.

As someone once said to me, believe in yourself, because if you don’t do that, who else will believe in you? In my experience, I find that we are often more harsh with ourselves than we are with others. We try to hold ourselves to higher standards than we would ever ask of someone else. The same holds true with how we view our healing process. I try to push it, try to force myself to be better, to deal with a situation, to “fix” the problem and “get over it.” But sometimes, it takes just being that small child, and comforting yourself, with the knowledge that the scrape on your knee (the pain, etc.) will pass eventually.

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