MY ADAPTED CHILD PART
became what it learned at home
PREVIOUS: Child E.S. (Part 2)
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
NOTE: Our Natural C. (+FC) will show up whenever a person feels emotionally & physically safe, or in the right environment to relax &/or actively play. This ego state is easier for healthy people to access because they are generally less anxious, are allowed to have fun & their Healthy Adult is available to make sure the person is OK. At its best this ego state is seen as the goal of human relating & achievement of self-actualization: being free, uninhibited, joyful and exuberant.
ADAPTED Child* (+AC) – It is a normal & necessary aspect of all kids – the part that incorporates the lessons of our family, school, society & religion – molded in childhood, every day by every component of our early environment. It’s the part that absorbs & learns what is expected of us in our particular society, so we know who we are & how to survive.
The Adapted Child aspect learns how to behave under the influence of its family, in ways the parents would like it to – such as being obedient & precocious, or reserved & scholarly, or aggressive & vindictive….
For kids from functional homes, it’s formed around healthy rules & values, which eventually translates into well-adjusted, self-caring grown-ups.
‘Normal’ AC CHARACTERISTICS
FUNCTIONS: Adapt, Accommodate, Adjust, Conform, Fit in, Reconcile
- Emotions include feelings of guilt, anxiety and envy
- Can overcompensate and become aggressive or rebellious
- Contains the development of social skills and appropriate behavior
- Conforms to gender-specific messages and other norms
- Weak boundaries so gives in to unreasonable demands from others
- Houses the Toxic Roles – Hero, Scapegoat, Lost Child, Mascot
- Is over-controlled & can be controlling (copying the Introject)
- Tends to lack confidence. Not able or willing to accept responsibility
✶For ACoAs, the ADAPTED C. is our wounded part (WIC), programmed to follow the Toxic Rules. It becomes our False Self, which developed as the only way to cope in Childhood. Now it overshadows the True Self so we may not even know it’s there, & keeps us trapped in victim, people-pleaser, rebel, perpetrator, hero…. As long as the WIC runs our life – emotionally if not cognitively – its severely compromised view of people-places-things makes us distort the facts of most current situations. This prevents having access to a Healthy Adult, as well as denying the intuition & emotional intelligence of our Natural Child, which together would allow us to act prudently & appropriately, based on how things really are.
The WIC ACTING OUT
a. Negative ADAPTED (-AC): For everyone, the normal Child ego state includes some unpleasantness – having resistance, hostility or reactiveness – so a disobedient child, a rebellious teenager or someone with a personality disorder are acting from their -AC. Therefore we usually think of the inappropriate ‘rulership’ of the Child – running us in our grown-up life – as coming solely from the unhealthy Adapted E.S, driven to obey the Toxic Introject (PP). It’s most commonly seen in how poorly we take care of ourselves, how much we live in fear & are tortured by cruel & untrue thoughts/ beliefs (CDs).
b. Negative FREE (-FC): However, for some people the Unhealthy FREE Child is in the driver’s seat – most or ALL of the time. When we’re born we’re totally +FC, having gotten all our needs met in the womb. Immediately that starts changing – at every turn we’re required to conform to the world around us. An infant has no choice.
– If our environment is relatively stable & encouraging, we can safely accept what is expected of us by our culture without sacrificing our Natural Self, as in #4 (chart below).
– BUT when our early life is full of danger, disrespect & dismissal, our native personality will tend to choose one extreme or another, either #1 or #2 & in some cases #3, as a coping mechanism.
An adult person’s possible Inner Child ego states:
1. As a rule, over the first 6 years of life the ADAPTED /Conforming Child (CC) gets bigger and bigger, gradually diminishing the NATURAL / Free Child (FC) . If the CC gets too big, it causes neuroses, making us feel anxious, depressed, chronically angry/ rageful…. The OVER-conforming /Adapted C is what we see in most ACoAs, with the NC relegated to a deep dark hole.
EXP: tightwad, ‘good boy or girl, co-dependent, people-pleaser….
2. When the Free / Natural C. is too big a part of this E.S. then there are fewer social & personal constraints – weak boundaries with others, less self-control & self-discipline to function well
EXP: Compulsive spender, time-waster, non-ambitious, flaky, always choosing ‘play’ over consistent self-care…..
3. In grown-ups, having a totally ‘Free Child’ (-FC) is not healthy because it has no sense of limits, & never learned how to get along with others. It only does what it feel like – a rebellion against all rules, all authority, all sense of propriety or spiritual connection. This person likely grew up with very little supervision or guidance & little if any love. To fill in the missing needs this WIC becomes ‘king baby’, disdaining anything that doesn’t FEEL good, no matter the consequences to self or others & so can be the hardest to recover from
EXP: compulsive promiscuity, hard-core active addicts of any kind, pedophiles, out-of-control music groups, criminals, extreme narcissists, long-term drop-outs, prisoners….. (Read more)
4. This is the balanced, healthy Inner Child with the freedom to be itself & maintain a sense of self-respect, as well as knowing when to act appropriately in order to get along with others – to stay in connection.
The proportion is fluid – sometimes more like #1 & sometimes more #2, but always dropping back into equilibrium. This can happen when there is both a Stable Healthy Adult & a Loving Parent E.S. available.
RECOVERY: The WIC (mal-ADAPTED) needs to be understood & healed, rather than trying to get rid of it, so it can function the way it was meant to originally – to help us successfully fit into whatever part of society that suits us. Then in can be integrated with the NC & the other parts of our psyche.
• HOWEVER: Even without Recovery, our NC (True Self) can still sneak thru, sometimes distorted, sometimes quite pure, in everything from our –> choice of career, leisure activities, style of thinking, our tastes, responses to the world…. –> to the type of addictions we act out on – which we choose based on in-born preferences & passions.
NEXT: Ego States – CHILD (Part 4)