Reparenting yourself

I remember reading a book by Sheldon Kopp called ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road ,kill him’.This was a book about owning your own power and not externalising it.At the back of the book was an ‘eschatological laundry list’ which was,in fact,a list of wise aphorisms.One of them sticks in my mind and that is ‘learn to forgive yourself again,and again,and again, and again………………….But,how to do this practically .Many people find it difficult to empower themselves through personal self support and forgiveness.Inappropriate guilt feellings and other forms of over the top self abuse or self criticism can be hard to shift.Simply talking to oneself as an affirmation may help but many people report lack of success.There is another method that may help and this relies on the ability of people to identify with external objects as can be readily seen with ….football supporters and their team,….their car…..their house…..suburb……clothes…..etc…

It also helps to understand that according to Eric Berne,the founder of Transactional Analysis,that personality is made up of three major ‘ego states’ or energy systems that interact.The internalised ‘Parent’ and the inner ‘Child’ have their characteristic thoughts, feelings,behaviors and defensive actions.These are not always in awareness.The other ego state is the ‘Adult’ which reality tests,rationalises and mediates between all ego states.According to Berne,the Child ego state is the one which mainly is symtomatic in terms of recurring worries and bad feelings.This ,on its own without support from the inner ‘Nurturing Parent’ may feel vulnerable,scared,and other abandonment feelings.By taking a photo of yourself as a young child and a soft toy like a teddy bear,it becomes possible to imagine and identify the teddy bear as your young self.Then,it becomes possible to employ all the powers of the potent and nurturing idealised Parent self to care for,dialogue with,and  support and soothe ones own ‘Child ‘self.Then the active forgiving of self becomes more powerful,more real and more tangibly transactional.It becomes an I-Thou,a compasionate, understanding and relied on relationship.The idealised Nurturing  Parent can be made up,imagined,or modelled on someone you have read about or know.The internal self Critic can be minimised as a competitor by imagining turning down a volume knob on ‘the broadcast player’ like a radio dial.

It also becomes possible to advocate externally  for ones own ‘Child’ self.Sometimes it may be helpful to have a big teddy bear at home for hugging and a small one in your pocket or handbag when you are out and about  engaging in challenging activities which may be fearful. The power of touch,such as hugging your teddy bear as a symbol of your child self, is important as is having clear boundaries to identify and separate  the different aspects of self and their contributions to the overall personality.Hugging and talking to your bear at night in bed can be very comforting. Touching your small bear ‘child’ in your bag or pocket is invisible to others and, hence,non exposing.Personal self  protection becomes more tangible,along with directed internal soothing self talk, then , in dealing with authority and adversity.

This technique is best learned from coaching in a psychotherapy or counselling session.It should not be employed if you have problems with reality testing,or ego stability such as in psychotic or borderline personality issues.Similarly,uncovering major personal trauma from childhood should be approached cautiously and, most safely under supervision by appropriately qualified professional therapists such as counsellors or psychologists with relevant training.

If you are seeking the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor please contact me at