When we are born, we come into the world fully loaded with spirit, personality, and potential. We have the wiring to become so many wonderful things.
If we are lucky, we are welcomed at every stage of our lives for that original wiring—our families, friends, teachers, and society like us exactly as we are, and we shine like we are meant to.
Most often, though, we encounter people who can’t handle us that way: a parent who thinks we’re “too much” or just isn’t equipped to be a nurturing, constant caretaker; other kids who want to diminish us so they can feel bigger; teachers who don’t know how to give feedback in a way that preserves our fragile confidence; a culture that wants us to conform in terms of beauty, abilities, beliefs, behavior, gender roles, politics, religion, and on and on.
In response to the rejection, disapproval, or abuse we suffer, our young minds think, “Uh oh, I should hide that part of me away. That hurt, and I don’t want it to happen again.” So, we lock up those parts, thinking we’re protecting them and ourselves by doing so.
Sadly, those are often the parts of us that are our most joyful, creative, and confident. They were playful, fun, curious, and wanted to connect with others—they were the real us.
Did this happen to you? And if so, where are those parts now? Have you let them out of hiding, embraced them like the long-lost friends they are, and brought them fully back into your life? Or do they remain hidden away, believing it’s still not safe to come out?
One of my favorite things to do with clients is help them retrieve these parts of themselves and become more fully who they were born to be. It’s been a joy to experience this in my own life and psyche, too. It feels like honoring the spirit and potential I was born with, and makes me feel more authentic, whole, and happy. It isn’t always an easy or pain-free process, but wow, is it worth it.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is the framework I’ve learned that specializes in this kind of personal growth. It is perhaps the most healing practice I know for bringing us into harmony with ourselves and all our inner parts.
So now what?
If you have precious parts that are still in hiding, here are a few steps you can take to begin reconnecting with them, liberating them, and welcoming them back into your life:
- Start by just opening your awareness to them. You might sit quietly and softly scan your body for sensations or your mind for memories. You might see images or sense the presence of energies around you. You might notice a heaviness around your heart or a tightness somewhere.
- Be curious but gentle. If you start to notice a younger you that’s been hiding somewhere and is now allowing itself to be glimpsed again, ensure it that it is safe and that you just want to get to know it again.
- Often, our hidden parts think we’re still young and vulnerable. You could let yours know that you are now older, more competent, and can handle the things that used to scare them.
- If you feel negative emotions arising in you, be gentle with those, too. Breathe deeply. Stop if you need to. There’s no need to rush or push. Take this little by little.
- Acknowledge the courage it takes for you and these vulnerable parts to reconnect. This is a brave thing to do.
- Before you move back into your present life, say thank you to your little part(s). They hid to keep you safe. It was quite a sacrifice, don’t you think?
- Take a few more deep breaths. Take a moment to process what you experienced. Journal about it if you like. Think of how complicated and precious you are, and how nice it is to be open to all of yourself.
If you’d like, share with me what happened when you tried this. I’d be happy to support you or offer guidance or next steps.
This is your one life, at least this time around. Live it the way you were meant to. Be who you were designed to be, fully, joyfully, and brightly.