“They should call the Children’s Aid Society on me for abusing my inner child so much”. 

Chris said this in a humorous manner. At the same time he was upset at how critical and hurtful he was towards himself.

He is not alone. In my years as a Toronto therapist most of my clients admit they are their own worst enemy. This negative self image also contributes to a number of emotional problems. People with addiction symptoms, signs  of depression, anxiety attacks, signs of codependency see that their lack of self esteem is a major contributing factor.

Where does this originate?

The Origins of a Negative Self Image

We are not born being critical. We develop this. We are taught this by people who are self critical: parents, teachers, friends. In fact we live in a world that looks down on self kindness. 

Rachel constantly called therapy, “A pity party.” She would also talk about her family calling her a “Cry baby, a suck, little miss princess,” etc whenever she expressed any type of pain. They, of course, were passing on what they themselves learned. So many of us end up being self abusive. We become a bad parent to ourselves. How do we then turn this around? How do we become a good parent to ourselves?

Learning to Reparent the Self

“To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it”. 

James Baldwin

Learning to reparent yourself begins with self knowledge. What happened? How did I come to be someone who dislikes myself? Why can’t I live with myself? What negative beliefs did I learn about myself? This is often the first phase of reparenting. Finding out the truth of how I lost myself. But then how can I find myself? This is where we can get into the action phase of reparenting. What constitutes this phase?

Active Reparenting

1/ Self Care –  I see many addicts, codependents and people who suffer from stress management issues, effects of childhood trauma and depression symptoms, ignoring their own self care. 

Being a good parent involves self care. Make sure you are healthy. Proper rest, food, exercise are fundamental.

2/ Learn Your Inner Conversation – I tell people to become aware of how they speak to themselves. Often they are verbally abusing themselves. However, it is necessary to be aware of how to control anger against their own selves.

3/ Develop a Defence Lawyer – When you hear the inner abuse, take steps. The basic step is start answering back to the abuser. For example, if the abuser says, “You’re a failure”, let your lawyer say, “No way, you’ve done so many good things in your life.” Now people often say, “This is phoney, I don’t believe a word.” I respond, “Just keep doing it, you are creating neural connections. This will grow.

4/ Learn Mindfulness – Mindfulness is a type of meditative awareness. It teaches us to consciously step back and observe our inner states. In this way you begin to be emotionally aware. John needed anger management therapy. He felt terrible at the people he hurt. With Mindfulness he realized, “Just before I get mad, I saw it, my hurt. Now I have a brake.”

5/ Forgive Yourself – “Forgive yourself …………. When you forgive yourself, self acceptance begins and self love grows.”

Miguel Angel Ruiz

Many of my clients who are suffering from stress, depression symptoms, anger issues, anxiety attacks and signs of addiction suffer from the past. Much of this has to do with things they did or didn’t do in the past. They frequently bring out this list and torment themselves. So self forgiveness is an essential part of reparenting.

Much of life is a self dialogue. Often we are ‘carrying around’ the voices of people from our past that hurt us. So reparenting is all about changing that dialogue. In fact it can bring major change to our lives. It can change the inner voice from an enemy into a friend. It can bring us towards a positive self awareness.

“Cultivating self awareness is a life-long journey. Listening to our inner voice as our guide will help ………….. (in) making us stronger, wiser and freer.”

Dee Waldeck