How do you know your true self? After all, you only know what you’ve been through and it has shaped the way the you think and act. What if you were pretending much of your life and didn’t know it?
If someone would have asked me that question a year ago I would have told them I am my true self and that while I probably had pretended to be someone I thought others wanted me to be that I was over that.
However, if I would have been asked these 44 questions I would have realized my true self, my inner child, was buried deep underneath a pile of unresolved issues.
- Have you ever suffered from some addicting behavior that you hid from others? (drugs, alcohol, pornography, food, work or exercise)
- Do you fear being lonely?
- Do you find it hard to trust other people?
- Do you feel you must be in control at all times?
- Do you have deep fears of abandonment? Do you feel, or have you ever felt, desperate because a love relationship ended?
- Do you try to be so helpful (even indispensable) in your love relationships that the other person (friend, lover, spouse, child, parent) cannot leave you?
- Are you often biting and sarcastic to others?
- Are you afraid to explore when you go to a new place?
- Are you afraid to try out new experiences? If you do try them, do you always wait till someone else has tried first?
- Are you a big worrier?
- Do you find yourself in frequent conflicts with people in authority?
- Are you often accused of being stingy with money, love, showing emotions, or affection?
- Will you do almost anything to avoid conflict?
- Do you feel guilty when you say no to someone?
- Do you avoid saying no directly, but often refuse to do what you’ve said you would in a variety of indirectly manipulative and passive ways?
- When you achieve success, do you have trouble enjoying or even believing in your accomplishments?
- Do you have communication problems with the people you are close to (spouse, children, boss, friends)?
- Do you try to control your feelings most of the time?
- Do you try to control the feelings of those around you?
- Do you have trouble expressing your feelings?
- Do you believe that you are responsible for other people’s behavior or feelings? (For example, do you feel that you can make someone sad or angry?)
- Also, do you feel guilty for what has happened to your family members?
- Do you believe that wishing or feeling something can make it come true?
- Do you strive for success so that your parents can feel good about themselves?
- Do you often compare yourself to other people and find yourself inferior?
- Do you wish you had more good friends of both sexes?
- Do you frequently feel uncomfortable in social situations?
- Do you feel uncomfortable being part of a group?
- Do you feel most comfortable when you are alone?
- Are you sometimes told that you are excessively competitive? Do you feel like you must win?
- Do you pride yourself on being strict and literal, following the letter of the law?
- Do you procrastinate a lot?
- Do you have trouble finishing things?
- Do you believe you should know how to do things without instructions?
- Do you have intense fears about making a mistake?
- Do you experience severe humiliation if you are forced to look at your mistakes?
- Do you spend lots of time obsessing on and/ or analyzing what someone has said to you?
- Do you feel ugly and inferior?
- Do you lie to yourself and others a lot of the time?
- Do you believe that no matter what you do, it is not good enough?
- Do you feel enraged by “senseless rules and regulations” that others seem to accept?
- When you visit your parents, do you quickly fall into the role of the obedient (or rebellious) child?
- Are you able to form close relationships only with people of the opposite sex? 8. Are all your non-work relationships with the opposite sex sexual or romantic?
- Do you talk a lot about the great things you are going to do, but never do them?
From: Bradshaw, John. Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child
If You Answered Yes to Many Questions
Each question indicates a time frame in your life where your inner child was wounded and not allowed to grow and mature into who he/she really was meant to be. The questions are not an indication that something is “wrong” with you. It only means that your perfect inner child self has yet to be released and to be championed.
Shame has been used as a “corrective” form of molding a child. Yet shame is used to only mold you into someone’s norm for them; a family culture, a religion or society wants you to be. This shame pulls you away from being who you really are. Love is the answer. Allowing children to learn to love who they are is the best form of parenting. Shame is counter productive and harmful.
Parents, without knowing, shame their children to mask the shame they also carry. In my case I was the runt in the family. I have an older sister and brother. Mom and dad did not intend on having any more children when they discovered they got pregnant with me. Mom, during many times while I was being raised, when she became angry at me or felt shame herself, would say to me, “You know you’re just a mistake!” As a child we don’t know any different after all we fully trust our parents and if they said I was a mistake I internalized that I was. Later in life this belief that I carried that I was a mistake caused me to hold in my emotional pain and unfortunately I acted out to numb it with a pornagraphy addiction.
Overcoming Shame and Becoming Who You Really Are
Rejoice that you understand that perhaps you are not who you really are. In my own case while I had a measure of outward success, my family relationships were unhealthy. I hid behind a vail of success because that is what I learned from my parents. They only conditionally loved me when I was “good” and if I tried to be me, the sweet, energetic, curious boy, would squash it. I learned they did not unconditionally love them self for what ever reason.
It is beyond my knowledge and skill to even attempt to give you advise. I can tell you that there are many wonderful, loving and skillful counselors trained to help you unlock the shame that binds your true inner child.
If you’re addicted to something like drugs, alcohol, sex, food, work, video games or exercise, seek the help of a 12-Step program group and counselor.
Follow John Bradshaw’s 10 part series he did for public TV.
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I love you! The thing that I’ve most learned about myself from the release of the shame I carried was that I love others so much. My compassion increased immeasurably. You don’t have to face your challenges alone. Disclosing your demons for all to see is courageous and the first step in making the discovery of who you really are. What you disclose has no more power over you. Shame needs secrecy to grow.
Shoot me an email if you’d like to connect.
God bless you. May you CHAMPION the Child Inside You™ and begin to unconditionally love yourself.