Supporting the Inner Child thru Conflict
In the 3rd and final Part of this article series on strengthening the Inner Child (IC) relationship, we will look at conflict resolution. In Parts 1 and 2 we looked at unsuccessful bonding with the IC, and we learned about all the different facets of who he/she is. Part 3 will apply that knowledge to lift our relationship with him/her to a new level; we’ll look at how to support him/her in the stressful and sometimes terrifying event of interpersonal conflict.
Interpersonal conflict is the stuff of life. It’s a major reason why we incarnated on Earth since it leads to soul growth. But when conflict is emotionally charged it can be extremely stressful to the IC. Such as in the case of a boundary violation, a betrayal, or humiliation, etc. We face feelings of anger, pain and/or fear and the uncertain (sometimes volatile) reactions those emotions trigger.
In Part 1, I told my story of how I used to handle conflict before I bonded with my IC. I would run, or cuss the person out, or do nothing to protect/support myself while I subconsciously plotted passive-aggressive revenge. At the end of it all, my IC suffered when my relationships became seeded with resentment, hostility, or became terminated. If you can relate, then you know that after enough battles, we feel like throwing in the towel and walking away from as much human contact as possible…only to face loneliness and depression.
Most of us were taught to resolve conflict by remaining logical while denying our emotions. That advice may keep the conflict from escalating in the short term, but it has 2 major flaws:
- It is extremely hard to do because we can’t think straight or control impulses while suppressing strong emotions.
- It totally invalidates the IC’s feelings which can motivate him/her to sabotage the relationship later.
So, should we dump our emotions all over people who trigger us? No, no, no … Let’s look at this carefully.
There are many ways to handle conflict, but they all boil down to 4 responses: Fight; Flight; Freeze; or Unite. The first 3 are fear (adrenaline) responses. The last one, Unite, will be our goal. In this article I will explain how to show love and support to the IC while keeping relationships with others intact and in good terms – all while honoring the emotional process. To start, let’s get a bit technical.
The role of adrenaline
Conflict creates stress. Stress releases adrenaline into the bloodstream triggering us to fight, flight, or freeze (adrenaline doesn’t actually cause us to freeze but the stress of not knowing what to do can cause inaction ). The adrenaline response is heightened under 2 circumstances: 1) If we were hurt or destroyed before by the same stressor or threat, either in this life or another, or; 2) if we have pent up dark emotions.
Adrenaline boosts glucose, oxygen and blood flow to the parts of our body needed to clear us from danger, such as the primitive brain (reptilian brain), heart, and muscles. The typical adrenaline response is: feeling hot, changes in breathing, increased heartbeat, anxiety, alertness , energy, and muscle contractions. The result: we become emotional and tense with impulsive thinking and reacting.
When we are the “victim”
When somebody triggers anger, pain or fear in us, our IC wants to react from the adrenaline. It’s natural, it’s normal, and it’s the way it should be because this is a protective response.
The problem is most of us over-react. Bear with me here. 99% (or some high number) of the population has pent up anger, pain and/or fear, because we grew up repressing it. So if I bump into the coffee table, I’m more likely to scream and cuss than I am to brush it off and keep walking. This is because we as children were not validated and accepted for much of our “negative” emotions. And, during childhood, our Egos dissociated from too much pain. These repressed emotions have been carried over into adulthood, and now live in the IC/body. The first chance my IC gets to release pent up feelings – SHE WILL! And this is all happening at the subconscious level.
Remember, I explained in Part 2 that the IC/body and the IC/Ego counter act each other sometimes. While the IC/body wants to express the pain, the IC/Ego wants to suppress it because pain is a threat to survival. This is where the adult self steps in to mediate.
Be mindful of the adrenaline response. If our bodies are loaded with adrenaline while trying to resolve conflict, we could end up doing something regretful. “Fighting” with the other person could cause the other person to reject our feelings and expressions – creating further rage and escalating the conflict. This parallels the behavior of a rash child who wants to avenge his violator as soon as possible and as much as possible. If we choose to “flight” or “freeze,” the unexpressed emotions could cause internal harm to our bodies, or erupt on an innocent bystander, or cause a car accident, etc.
The adrenaline response is the IC pulling at our pants leg saying, “Mommy/Daddy I need you now!” This is a call to stop whatever we are doing at that moment and listen to our IC.
Venting (expression of the IC)
This is the most important part of the article. Venting is the first step to processing our emotions and supporting our IC. It clears our body of the adrenaline and the IC’s dark emotions, which can become toxic when stored in excess. Additionally, venting validates how the IC feels, and afterwards we have the frame of mind to resolve conflict.
If we can take a time-out, in the conflict, to vent fully, we should! The adrenaline is quickly cleared out in minutes by venting with some degree of physical exertion and emoting – as long as the intensity of the venting matches the intensity of the emotion. Even crying will suffice if it is strong enough. Notice how great it feels after a good vent! Adrenaline can clear out on its own if we do nothing, but it could take days, and it ignores the IC. Exercising can also clear out adrenaline, and faster than doing nothing, but it too ignores the IC.
Venting can be intense and surprising things may fly out of your mouth. Or it may be calmer. And venting is not just about anger, but any dark (fear based) emotion. Let it happen the way your IC wants it to. He/she could cry, complain, scream, hit, etc. And don’t forget to verbalize the feelings, for example, “I hate my boss,” “I’m afraid of…,” “I hurt!” Cussing helps too. For more insight, the LISTEN and ALLOW segment in Part 2 explains the IC’s expression process.
Venting can sometimes feel like uncorking a shaken wine bottle. Remember, most of us have pent up feelings. If this happens, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but it should be okay to give into the process. The IC/body knows how much it can take in one venting session. I’ve never met anybody that lost total control while venting.
It’s important to be in a safe place when we vent so that we can let loose without worrying about bothering anyone. Venting tools, like pillows, are good to muffle sound. And hitting a bed with a plastic/foam bat will stop the temptation to punch a wall.
We should continue venting until our body is ready to stop; otherwise we could become overly aggressive (angry, irritable, etc.) for the rest of the day. Notice how a kid will get very mad at his parents if he’s only allowed to play in the play ground for a very short time, or if his candy is taken away before he finishes it.
Afterwards, it may be necessary to talk with someone such as a friend, who will support us by: validating our feelings; not try to fix us; and give objective insight. Additional time may be necessary to reflect privately on what we’ve processed so far.
We don’t always have the option of taking a time-out to vent privately. These situations can be harder to deal with. Conflicts that start in the car are perfect examples. In such cases we have to place a hold on our emotional process and go straight into confrontation. Fortunately, it is still possible to confront the other person without saying or doing something regretful, even with the adrenaline pumping. Here are a few pointers:
- Take full breaths. This does a lot to quell the overwhelming emotions in front of other people, and it helps access the IC’s true feelings.
- Be emotionally honest. This validates our IC while setting the tone of the conflict with sincerity that the other person will probably try to match.
- Use “I” instead of “you.” For example, “I’m pissed off” instead of, “You jerk.” If it’s necessary to use “you,” then say for example, “I feel that you don’t care.” This can prevent the other person from getting defensive.
- Be clear and brief. Our Ego may want to over-intellectualize or beat around the bush. This could confuse the other person and put us on the defensive.
- Ask for clarification. If we are not sure exactly how the other person violated or offended us, we should ask for clarification, or simply say, “Something about this doesn’t feel right.”
- Ask for time. We need time alone to fully process our feelings before settling on closure. Which means the conflict will be left open-ended until this time is taken.
IMPORTANT: We must promise our IC that we will finish venting later. Then we must actually do it. Otherwise, the IC will not agree to any of the pointers I gave above.
As I said earlier, repressing negative emotions is toxic and the energy will stay stuck in the body until the IC is allowed to express them and be validated. This is why we “overreact” to events that trigger unexpressed feelings. Furthermore, this causes a strong Ego influence in our lives which can make us dishonest, feel victimized, short tempered, passive-aggressive, defensive, etc.
NOTE: You might encounter situations where the triggering person understands the emotional clearing process and can allow you to totally vent on them including projection and blaming. Such is the case at an Emotional Clearing Workshop. But that is not the norm.
Effective Confrontation (expression of the adult self)
When the IC’s feelings have been vented and validated, and the adrenaline is cleared, we are relaxed and can now think clearly with all parts of the brain. Don’t you agree this is the best time to resolve conflict!
I recommend these tips for an effective confrontation:
- Speak from the heart.
- Be honest and non intellectual.
- Represent the IC by sharing the feelings that were triggered.
- Be willing to be vulnerable.
- Don’t hide behind email, VM, etc.
- Try to do it live when possible.
- Take full breaths to calm fear.
The IC should now feel powerful, mature, and strong!
When we “victimize” another
When we trigger another person’s feelings of anger, pain, and/or fear, it can feel more stressful to us than when the role is reversed. Suddenly we have no control – the ball is in their court and we’re faced with guilt, shame and/or rejection. Ugh!
Well, not so fast. It doesn’t have to be so scary. Sure we have less control, but we can still help the situation by honoring the other person’s emotional process while protecting ourselves and keeping the integrity of the relationship intact.
It would be nice if the person used the venting and effective confrontation techniques I explained in this article. But instead, we know that most people will either fight (attack us), flight (run away), or freeze (do nothing while they plot passive aggressive revenge). Below are some helpful techniques for those situations:
1. LISTEN/VALIDATE – Allow them to blame and project upon us even if we think they’re wrong. This will diffuse their anger, pain, and fear faster than anything. We are not compromising our principles; it is a move towards a healthier resolution of the conflict. At the very least, let’s accept that individuals have different ways of seeing things. Remember, clear thinking comes after processing of emotions.
Supporting the other person this way may be difficult for our Ego to bear, especially if the other person gets fierce, or if we get emotionally triggered by their vent. In this case, take full breaths and promise the IC that he/she will have his/her turn later. This should stop us from interrupting or judging the other person.
The more we do our own emotional processing, the more comfortable we are letting others do it around us.
If we feel unfairly “attacked” while somebody is venting/expressing, we need to stand-up for ourselves and say something like, “You have a right to be angry and I want you to share it with me, but if feels like you are attacking me and that scares my Inner Child.” Expect a good amount of trial and error before getting this right. Our perception of whether or not we are being attacked could be different from reality.
2. EMPATHIZE – Other people feel heard and understood when we put ourselves in their shoes. This can be done by paraphrasing; for example, “I understand you to say that I lied to you,” or ”So, you’re angry and scared?” Sincerity counts. Most people can pick up on phoniness.
3. DON’T FIX – The other person is not ready to be “figured out” or psycho-analyzed. For example, don’t say, “Your co-dependant behavior allowed me to betray you.” This can negate all the good that’s been done so far. At the end, when the conflict is resolved, the other person might then be open to feedback.
4. GIVE THEM TIME – Offer them some time and space to “process things” before settling the conflict. Or say, “Why don’t you sleep on it and we’ll return to the issue tomorrow.” When our minds are clear, we can apply the right solutions to the problem.
5. MEET THEM HALFWAY – If the other person runs away or stuffs their feelings, unfortunately, there is less chance of resolving the conflict. There are numerous reasons why people do this, such as:
- A fear that any underlying anger they have may go out of control. They think conflict is an all-or-nothing situation that is either avoided completely or fiercely battled, even if the violation was minor.
- Being raised in a home with lots of unresolved conflict can discourage people from participating in it as adults.
- Insecurity can make it hard to assert oneself.
- Many religious and psychological systems label anger as evil or dangerous.
Perhaps, all we can do for those who run or stuff their feelings is communicate to them that we care and will listen without argument. If they react passive aggressively later, we can say, for example, “I feel like you did [blank] because you are mad at me.” But, if they still don’t open up to us, maybe we should let go.
At last we are in a place to grow from the conflict. The venting and confrontation is done. Our IC feels validated and clear. Now we can see the light of where mistakes were made and where repairs can be made.
- Apologies – Apologies validate the pain of our selves and others. And they send a message to our IC that it is okay to make mistakes. Denying or defending ourselves communicates to the IC that our mistakes are unacceptable.
- Establish Boundaries – Boundaries protect us from being hurt by others. And it takes conflict coupled with trial and error to know where to place our boundaries.
- Make Agreements – Agreements are tools of give and take that can ensure the needs and wants are met by both parties. This is also an opportunity to implement solutions, and to acknowledge where you agree and disagree.
- Access the Higher Perspectives – If you believe that everything (good and bad) happens for a reason, you will find some value in the conflict. One such method is the Nibiruan Council’s Formula of Compassion where you will learn or attain the following: The lesson; the soul contract involved; the mirror; the gift; the ability to accept the other person’s role; the release of anger and blame; and the ability to be kind to the other person.
Relationships with frequent conflict have the potential to be healthier than those without it, as there is more trust and more freedom to be real. The growth is unending. These relationships create safety for our IC, thus reducing fear in our lives and activating our power to achieve our dreams.
Despite the growth, getting thru conflict with integrity to the IC and the other person is challenging. Be patient with yourself. Earth’s legacy is one of war, and any kind of emotional processing is not yet mainstream knowledge, so our role-models are few and far between. Let’s be future role models and create a different legacy.
Written July 19th 2007
Laura writes from experience and knowledge of the Keys of Compassion coupled with universal/spiritual laws to assist us in finding our personal power and inner truth.