The Importance of Exploring Our Childhood, by mizlorinj

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Dr. Sarno tells his patients that our “overflowing beaker” of rage is made up of three components: 1/3 childhood, 1/3 current stressors, and 1/3 our personality.

Most of us think of our childhood as happy. Of course we do! That's natural. I was no exception. I took a course years ago called The Solution ( Before you join their groups you fill out a questionnaire on which you rate your childhood, so I of course marked the box similar to: “happy childhood, no issues.” If I filled that out years later the answer would be different as I uncovered many things that I had buried. I realized how things that happened growing up did indeed affect me--some good, some not so good. The key is being open to seeing the past from a different perspective. Even though we can say (or for now really feel) that everything was great, family is wonderful, etc. the truth is we are not perfect, our family is not perfect. There is likely a time or two or 50 that someone hurt us, we felt angry or sad, someone died and we felt the loss. As youngsters and adults too, we are quite acutely aware of someone's feelings toward us, and are affected by their words: spoken or even implied.

I'm not saying there is no way that you're an exception and had absolutely no childhood issues; maybe you are and did. I'm saying please try to be open to exploring the past, and just take out a pad and paper and see where writing can take you.

When I first wrote out my “list” as prescribed by Dr. Sarno, it did not include childhood issues as I had enough currently going on to consume my writing time. But as things were uncovered in my journaling, I realized that events from childhood like when a couple girls picked on me in 4th grade for being the new kid, it hurt my feelings.

Here are some more ideas of how past experiences affect us now.

  • As a child was there someone who repeatedly picked on us? (do we keep a wall around us now to protect us even though everyone is not out to pick on us?)
  • Did a friend hurt our feelings or betray us? (is our belief now that everyone will hurt us eventually so don't have high expectations?)
  • Did our parents want a child of a different gender instead of us? I cried when I listened to a woman who knew this to be true in her case. So sad.
  • If you were one of many children in your family, did you feel your parents favored another sibling? Did you feel ignored when a younger sibling entered the picture? Did a sibling take out their frustrations on you? Were you compared to siblings? “be a good boy like [xyz]”?

These are all important issues to address, FEEL in your writing or therapy, and heal. There are times when the perceived offender did not intentionally hurt you or realize you were so affected.

If you can recall specific childhood experiences, sit for a few minutes and try to bring the experience back to mind. Takes a couple minutes to put yourself back there as the little girl. Perhaps it won't work the first time, but I do know that I could place myself back as the 5 year old and feel the sadness [or whatever emotion]. Sadly we are not taught to FEEL our feelings--just to stuff them down and suck it up basically, and that's so bad for us! If you focus and bring experiences to mind, you will after a few times be able to feel the feelings again. Be patient with yourself.

Also consider is the voice you hear in your mind--the tape that replays over and over. Is it your voice or words? Your mother's? Your father's? A teacher or someone else in perceived authority? What are the prevailing messages? Upbuilding to you, or are they critical or tearing you down?

I remember when I was first learning about the Solution program (mentioned above) one of the first exercises with feeling our feelings is to say out loud: I feel Grateful. . . happy. . . secure. . . proud. And I have to say by the time I got to secure it was a lot of work because it did not feel natural. Repeated practice made it much easier.

I am reading Dr. Eva Selhub's THE LOVE RESPONSE and she really delves into childhood issues and the physical pain they can cause in many forms later in life.

February 15, 2011. Update.

So I am trying to help someone who is having some trouble examining their childhood and realizing there are things that may need to come up and out for them.

It is important when analyzing situations from the past to think about HOW THAT CHILD FELT--not as you view it now as an adult. The child's feelings. Of course later in life we view things different. Example, a child growing up during the depression would likely feel the effects of that from their parents. How did you feel when your friends got a new toy and your parents could not afford one? The CHILD surely felt some emotion.

It is also interesting (and hopefully enligtening) to think about any beliefs about yourself (or others) that came from any childhood experience/hurt/event that comes to mind. e.g. I must be stupid, they don't really want me around, I'm not good enough (big one!).

I was looking at a Marianne Williamson book yesterday and noted one sentence jumped out at me. It struck me in the most interesting way and sparked a memory from the past. Not a good one. Immediately I took out some paper and journaled about the event that instantly came to mind that made me quite angry. It was from 20 years ago and yet I recalled it as vividly as if it had been yesterday. I needed to process those feelings and forgive the person for their perceived offense. It felt good when i was finished.

As I say so often, just START WRITING. You will be surprised how things come to mind either from what you are writing or from a totally unexpected way (like mine yesterday). It is so freeing!

More to come, I'm sure! :-)

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