Reparenting is a therapy process in which the traumatized, rejected inner child is validated and mirrored the way they should have been by the individual’s parents. It’s a technique used by attachment and trauma therapists for disorders caused by early trauma such as personality disorders and C-PTSD. In my sessions, it sometimes involves sitting my inner child in a chair (I’ve started to call her Chair Girl) and asking her what she needs and letting her talk to me. I’ve been learning so much about her–and beginning to develop a protective, loving feeling toward her and realizing she isn’t as bad as I’ve always believed. Those of us with trauma-based disorders develop a very harsh and punishing Inner Critic that can be every bit as abusive as our own parents were. My Inner Critic has denied my inner child’s needs and even her existence. But she needs me.
I’m currently reading Pete Walker’s book about Complex PTSD (which I mentioned in a previous post and will write a review of soon) and there’s a chapter that tells you how you can reparent yourself, if you don’t have or can’t afford a therapist. While self-reparenting may not be as effective as being reparented by an empathic professional, these techniques can begin to rewire your brain so you begin to accept your inner child that your Inner Critic rejected due to shame, and give him/her permission to express their feelings safely.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s as simple as a set of affirmations, that validate and nurture your hurt inner child. In so doing, you begin to develop self-compassion, a prerequisite for healthy relationships and empathy toward others. Eventually, you and your inner child will begin to integrate as their needs and wants align with yours, and you’re not always fighting against or denying them what they need.
These affirmations are from Pete Walker’s chapter on self-reparenting (page 61).
–I’m so glad you were born
–You are a good person
–I love who you are and I am doing my best to always be on your side.
–You can come to me whenever you’re hurt or feeling bad.
–You do not have to be perfect to get my love and protection.
–All of your feelings are okay with me.
–I am always glad to see you.
–It is okay for you to be angry, and I won’t let you hurt yourself or others when you are.
–You can make mistakes–they are your teachers.
–You can know what you need and ask for help.
–You can have your own preferences and tastes.
–You are a delight to my eyes.
–You can choose your own values.
–You can pick your own friends, and you don’t have to like everyone.
–You can sometimes feel confused and ambivalent, and not know all the answers.
–I am very proud of you.