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InnerChildWork Blog

Empty your mind, silence your thoughts

hoofd leeg makenMost mindfulness techniques are not working for me, because you still give the mind something to do (focusing on my breath, sitting, lying down), that it can chatter about. Even when closing my eyes they keep on wheelbarreling in loads of images, but now from my memory or or phantasy. In a silent moment even as much as 3600 impressions enter our brain per minute looking to be processed. I discovered a way that really empties my mind, really silences my thoughts.

I sit down in a relaxed posture and with my eyes closed I start to relax the muscles inside my eyeballs, one by one, stopping them to focus on anything. My two over-industrious wheelbarrels come to a halt and don’t fill up anymore. My eyes turn into two loose marbles in a socket. When I sit like that and my eyes stop wheelbarreling in loads of images, my brain has nothing to do anymore but just regulate my breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, temperature. My brain empties out, my ‘thinking muscle’ relaxes, even showing some fatigue from all that hard thinking it did, but my awareness stays on, even better than before. My brain opens up and unfolds into a sensitive antenna. Give it a try yourself. Leave your experience below, if you like.

Inner Child E-book out now: Releasing Deep Stress

Cover Releasing Deep StressWhen stress has become chronic and undermines your health, lay down the yoke of old burdens.

Do you recognize living your life under prolonged stress? Worrying, burnout, sleep problems, short fuse or lethargic? In this e-book you can read how to release this deep seated stress and move on. You'll learn how our child brain becomes wired by blueprint experiences. The way we understand something will determine our behavior. Learn how our personal development involves having a certain degree of fear and insecurity in our life, forming our personal basic stress (PBS). Prenatal stress and the stress from growing up contribute the most to our level of personal basic stress. Too high a level will make us struggle and leave behind unresolved issues, forming into so-called “inner children” stuck in time inside us. Without proper care this deep stress can seriously undermine our physical and mental health. Learn how taking care of your inner child releases this deep stress. It will boost the self-healing power we have inside.

Order your download (pdf) here in my webshop. After having paid with PayPal, you’ll find the download link on your digital invoice.

Trauma strengthens disgust complicating later relationships

WalgingWe know of the five basic emotions: afraid, happy, angry, sad and ashamed. Now there’s a 6th one added to this category, namely disgusted. Recent scientific discoveries suggest that disgust also belongs on this list of basic natural emotions.

Disgust is a natural reaction which has the function to protect ourselves against intrusion from outside:

  • Against pathogenes (decay, rotten food, etc)
  • Against exchanging body fluids / sexual contact or
  • Against morally reprehensible person / behavior

We know disgust in the context of the inner child when it comes to relationships or co-dependency. The anti-dependent partner is often disgusted by for example the neediness of the dependent partner. That neediness probably means that the other person demands proximity. And that can result in the exchange of bodily fluids (say sex) which can be precarious. Or it means a risk of intrusion by morally reprehensible ideas / behavior of the other, such as deception or betrayal. In the co-dependency, we assume that a partner has become so anti-dependent because of strong allergy against deception or betrayal from childhood.

My theory is that the more a person has been strongly traumatized in childhood, so having experienced intense ‘intrusion’, he or she can exhibit an enhanced disgust reaction to closeness or intimacy. A strong aversion response, which can lead to all sorts of dysfunctionally loathing thoughts, feelings and behavior. This can make friendships, relationships, intimacy and sexuality in later life into a much more difficult and complicated experience. The traumatized person can develop a pattern in which he or she would rather separate from the area.

Making someone more aware of the role of disgust in his or her thoughts, feelings and behavior is, in my experience, a very good way to bring self-acceptance and healing underway and to enable more human contact.

Setting boundaries to pain

Pain is a natural warning system. Pain indicates that your body is getting damaged or your health/life is in danger. Pain is a signal that you’re crossing a boundary. A good thing.

Pain stimuli teach you where your limits are. Pain however appears to be experienced differently by each person. There are people who experience no pain at all or people who suffer from excessive and chronic pain. And everything in between.

Scientific research on pain shows one breakthrough after another. On the one hand, scientists have discovered the gene that creates the pain pathways in our tissue (or not for that matter). On the other hand, research shows how early life experiences may enhance subsequent pain perception. Think of premature babies who may have to undergo many painful treatments. This overactivates the formation of pain pathways in their tissue and makes them much more sensitive than other babies.
Not only is science now looking for drugs that can adjust the defective gene, without side effects. They also discovered how to give less space in your brain to pain by managing your attention, by positive emotions and decisiveness.

Early hospital trauma is frequently a key element in the stories of people who want to heal their inner child: the abandonment by the parents (especially the mother) and invasive medical procedures on the baby. Resulting in huge unsafety and panic that the baby has to undergo and massively stimulating the formation of pain pathways. In inner child work it is important to acknowledge that old pain and let it calm down. And sometimes it is necessary to learn as an adult today to set a boundary to this long ingrained pain. By mastering your emotions, by learning to direct your attention and learn to decide that a boundary is in order.

Fooling effects of nicotine and alcohol

alcohol-and-the-brainSmoking and drinking are two socially acceptable forms of behavior. Only thing is, we’re dealing with two potentially addictive substances: nicotine and alcohol. What makes these products so difficult to resist? What do they do with your body and mind? Nicotine and alcohol have different effects on our physical functioning. If we kept to the physical we would not become addicted very quickly, because physically it doesn’t feel that good to overdo it. The pitfall lies all in the psychological effects of nicotine and alcohol. They are doing something to your perception.

Physical Effects
Nicotine usually ends up in your body through your lungs (otherwise using gum or patches). Alcohol enters through your esophagus. These substances trigger all kinds of physical reactions, not the ones that will make you feel good in particular. These reactions aim at handling the toxic substance and drain it. If you smoke or drink long and hard enough it will eventually leads to all sorts of serious damage. Think of degradation of your stomach, liver, kidneys, blood vessels, etc.

Psychological fooling effects
When alcohol or nicotine is circulating in your body, it enters via the bloodstream into your brain tissue. There they cause a “fooling effect” in the nerve cells. Nicotine causes the receptor cells (which receive instructions) produce a greater reward effect (you start feeling ‘better’) than the normal substance that is supposed to land on that receptor. You start to develop a taste for this artificial ‘feeling better’ while in the meantime it has negative physical effects on lungs and blood vessels for instance.

Alcohol also has a fooling effect. It also leaves the bloodstream and starts to flow around the brain cells. Landing on the receptor it causes cells to become more inactive. In the beginning it feels kind of relaxing, but the more you drink, the more kinds of brain and bodily functions lose their activity (see picture). You will be less and less controling yourself, your judgment decreases, your vision, speech and motor skills deteriorate, reducing your coordination and balance. The further you go also vital organs as lungs and heart become affected in their function. And you’ll need more and more of alcohol to accomplish the same ‘relaxing’ effect.

Animations of Drugs in the Brain
In The Netherlands the leading addiction treatment clinique Jellinek has put together animations on Drugs and the Brain. Click here to get a closer look of what happens in your body and brain when you use too much substances like alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, etcetera. Select a language and then an addictive substance. Then you learn step by step (turn the sound on) what happens. That psychological impact is especially about fooling yourself. ” Perhaps a sobering nudge towards learning to drop the habit.

Effects of harmful life experiences can be reversed

DNA_helixRegularly on can read on hereditary diseases or congenital defects that can affect a person. Less often in the spotlight, are the changes (ie damage) of your DNA that can occur during your lifetime, so damages coming from harmful experiences.

This field of knowledge is called Epigenetics. It examines the changes in DNA during your life. So in addition to (= epi) what father and mother have thrown in the gene-cocktail during the conception. Such a change in DNA can seriously affect your physical health. It is known, for example, that in elderly people cancer is mostly caused during their lifetime, not genetically. Think of how sunlight can cause skin cancer. The good news is that these changes in DNA are potentially reversible.

Tennis-ball
First something fascinating about DNA. Imagine you take a wire (such as a coil in the picture ) of 40 kilometers long and pack it in a tennis ball. This tennis-ball you now can consider to resemble the core in each individual cell of the body. Each cell has at its core (the tennis-ball) 3.2 billion genes (the sticks inside the spiral) and as many switches for those genes to be set on or off. The core of the cell contains the encryption key to what that cell is supposed to do. Not every gene necessarily has to become active in each cell. You do not want an ear growing out of the spot where your nose is supposed to grow, and so on. As mentioned some switches can be flipped in the ‘false’ position from conception onwards, which is called a genetic defect. But during your life critical factors can also flip the switch into a ‘false’, which is called an epigenetic defect. This allows damaged cells to start behaving abnormally or even malignantly. This can seriously harm your health.

Four factors that can damage DNA
What are the factors that could flip a switch during your life?

    1. A first important factor is too much or too little nutrients. A lack of the mineral folate can cause severe damage to an embryo (e.g. spina bifida). Or a lack of Vitamin inhibits the body to fight off potentially harmful molecules (like free radicals), and so allowing for a harmful chain reaction in the cells.
    2. Another influential factor is poison, which can biochemically cause cells to become severely damaged. Think of alcohol or nicotine that in large quantities are toxic to our bodies and can cause serious damage, like liver or brain damage, or lung cancer.
    3. A third factor is behavioral. For example, it has been established that family conditions or family culture can have enhance the risk of a family member taking up a familial disease, like heart or vascular disease, by following behavioral patterns in the family in dealing with tensions. Another behavioral example is lack of exercising and unhealthy eating patterns that can disrupt the natural metabolism and for example cause diabetes. Or think of a person’s addiction to stress or adrenaline, keeping the body constantly in a state of alarm by stress hormone cortisol. This behavior will in time deplete the adrenal cortex, that produces cortisol, turning your night and day rithm upside down, causing for example sleeplesness.
    4. A fourth major factor is environmental. Think of traumatic experiences like accidents, wars, fighting or a sudden death of someone close by. This can stirr up much fear or anxiety in the person. When this energy is not abducted through a natural fight or flight response, but it gets stuck inside the nervous system, over time it can cause insomnia, difficulty concentrating, irritability or tantrums.

    Damage potentially reversible
    What makes me cheerful about epigenetics, is that harmful effects of substances, behavior and circumstances are potentially reversible. Of course, some physical, emotional or mental harm will prove irreversible. But the switches may come back into the right position again, by detoxing from poisoning chemicals, by changing your unhealthy behavior or by changing your circumstances. The high charge may come off and you may stop investing in those harmful scenarios. Your body and mind may pick up on their natural healing power and start regenerating your bodily tissue and energy. It makes sense to your autonomous nervous system to discharge and learn to better your situation.

The Metaphor of the Inner Child

liefdevolle volwasseneThe term “inner child” represents the unprocessed or unfinished emotions from our early years. It is a metaphor for the essential aspects of life, such as trust, innocence and natural energy that get damaged in the first years of our life, or are lost or suppressed.

In addition to good experiences we have as a child, also known painful experiences. Or experiences that were too overwhelming to process. However small we were, at such times we adopted beliefs about life, our life. Beliefs such as “I may not be there” or “I always have to do everything alone” or “I’m not good enough” or “people can not be trusted”. With these often negative and constraining beliefs we tried to fortify ourselves in a certain way. So we did not have to feel our vulnerability.
That armor then helped us to survive as a child. But in our adult lives these beliefs keep working at a subconscious level and still invade our our perception of daily reality. These negative beliefs unconsciously determine how open or closed we are, how free or unfree we are, in our work, but also in our relationships. They can keep us trapped in old and sometimes very unhealthy habits.

Working with your inner child is a playful and loving way to get to the source of old patterns, tension or discontent. Brightness For people who want to strengthen their awareness , growth and inner peace through therapy. The first step is to re-establish contact with the feelings of our inner child. Remember: the Healing is the Feeling. Metaphors are powerful tools to describe something, but the metaphor of the inner child in particular is one that I’m really happy with.