As you watch the news, read headlines in the papers, and scroll through your Facebook feed, you might be feeling sad, hopeless, and angry and afraid at what is happening in our country today.
Children at the border are being separated from their families, sometimes taken from their parents arms, and placed in modern day internment camps. Children and families are being traumatized. Families are being torn apart. Innocents are being hurt, both in the short and long term.
If you feel sad, angry, hopeless, and afraid, you are feeling the emotions which are appropriate for a terrible situation such as this.
And while there is external work in the world to be done, I want to invite you to consider the internal work that needs to also be done within each one of us as well.
While sitting in a world-wide group meditation to heal what is happening on our US border today, it dawned upon me:
What we are seeing in our external world is a picture of what happens inside of us each and every day.
If you have been following my work, you know that I believe our relationships are mirrors for us and they are always teaching us about ourselves. I also believe the world and our circumstances are teaching us about ourselves as well. And I also believe we are a society of lots of parentless children in adult bodies waiting for our parents to arrive. It’s how we get ourselves into messy situations and how our lives and relationships fall apart.
As a culture we have allowed ourselves to become so caught up in the external experience that we do not create the space for what is happening internally within us. We isolate ourselves off from our own selves. We isolate ourselves from our own inner child. Our experience becomes about work, hustle, paying the bills, and having the newest iPhone, while living inside of us is a child who starved for our love and attention.
Every single day that you do not attend to the needs of your own inner child, you become the U.S border patrol agent who tears your child apart from you, and places her in isolation in the internment camp deep in the far reaches of your mind. You become the child and the perpetrator. You become the victim and the villain. And to avoid the pain this causes you, you go deeper and deeper into your own inner isolation in an attempt to numb out your despair.
So, as you place your child placed in the isolation of the internment camp of your mind, she begins to do what she does best: She either has a tantrum to get your attention or she tries to keep you safe from harm. This shows up as sabotaging relationships, sabotaging projects at work, playing small, and sticking your head in the sand.
Each of us, regardless of who we are or how we grew up, has an inner child who lives within us. The difference between us is: some of our inner children received the love and attention they needed, wanted, and deserved, while others of us did not.
The tricky part is, many of you who didn’t get it, don’t know it. You might think back on your family growing up and think, “Well, there wasn’t any physical abuse or violence, growing up was pretty good.” And that’s great! Yet for many of you, even if growing up was “pretty good,” there may still be instances and experiences where your needs weren’t met (because even good parents are human and they aren’t perfect) and that may have led you as a child to the experience of your needs not getting met.
When your needs weren’t met as a child, even if the need is a seemingly small one, that becomes a small wound on the mind, heart, and soul. When many of those experiences add up, it can lead to problems down the line: anger, anxiety, depression, addiction, guilt, shame, numbing out, acting out, troubled relationships, failed marriages, and bad relationships with your own children.
The work of your grown-up adult self is to get in there and give yourself what you so badly wanted and needed as a child. Your work is to give yourself the love and attention you craved as a child. Your job is to parent the child who lives within you.
How does this relate to our present situation as a country?
The feelings you are feeling around what is happening, even if it is an avoidance and a numbness and a desire to put your head in the sand, is an invitation for you to turn inwards and connect with the needs your own inner child has. Your own inner child is screaming and wailing and wondering where her mom has gone. Your own inner child is asking to be rescued from the internment camp you have placed her in deep within your mind.
Your work is to look at all of the ways you tear yourself apart from your own inner child. Your work is to evaluate all of the ways you traumatize and abandon your own inner child (through work, through relationships, through busyness, through the TV, through an overall numbness in an attempt to avoid the pain). Your work is to heal all of the ways others have not been able to provide for you. And your work is to step up to the plate and do for that child what you wish your parents would have done for you.
Healing the situation at the border starts at home—the home of your own mind, body, and soul.
And as you do the work to heal yourself internally, you will be able to create even greater change in your community, our country, and the world as a whole.
If the situation at the border and in our country has you feeling triggered or frozen in fear and at a loss of how you can help, reach out to us today.
Through our individual counseling services here at our San Jose office, we can help you learn how to rescue your own inner child who you have placed in the internment camp of your mind for far too long.