PREVIOUS: Child Ego State (Part 1)
Before we had the grown-up components of the Adult & Parent, we develop the rudimentary aspects of them (Child’s version of a Parent & the C’s version of an Adult), alongside the basic characteristics we were born with – the C’s C. Eventually these 3 parts become the essence of the Child E.S. in our grown up state (see Second Order E.S. Map).
● C’s Parent – sometimes called the ‘little professor or mother’s little helper‘. Kids, even very small ones, will help a drunk parent up the stairs, rock their dolly to sleep, care for a pet… OR be bossy, lecture other kids, copy their parents’ way of treating their younger siblings…
● C’s Adult – trying to do ‘grownup’ things, even before they’re ready, going to the store or school – alone, ‘being in charge’, showing off their cleverness & knowledge… trying to figure out how things work…. BUT without enough info or mature ego states to process everything correctly
● C’s Child – our most basic self, the core of our identity, the most vulnerable part, the aspect of ourselves which, as adults, has often been suppressed to the point of being invisible. This part houses our physical selves, instincts, biological urges, genetic recordings, our curiosity, intuition & the full range of emotions – from great joy to great pain.
Everyone has a Child E.S. As with the P, it’s both an influence (what we’re thinking & feeling inside) and a state (looking & acting like the little person we once were). See “Parent E.S.- Part 2”. While the P.E.S. is filled with demands, directions & dogma, the Child is filled with desire, & can be inventive, creative, and spontaneous. It can also be fearful, intimidated, and selfish. In healthy people it will show up from time to time when it’s safe & in the right environment to relax &/or actively play. Dysfunctional expressions of this E.S. in the next post.
IN ADULTHOOD we can separate the Inner Child into 2 broad categories – Adapted (AC) & Natural/Free (NC) aspects, healthy & unhealthy.
For ACoAs, it is our NC which for the most part has been suppressed, ignored, possibly even crushed. It has had to go into hiding, early on, to preserve itself from the abuse & neglect inflicted by our parent’s damage. When we realize that our Inner Child has been running the show in our life, even as grown-ups, it is almost totally the wounded version of the AC. For some of us, our NC does peek out, usually in some form of creativity. One of the goals of Recovery is to reconnect with this basic & essential part of ourselves.
NATURAL or Free Child – in TA terms it’s the part of us that is on the surface when we’re most relaxed & ourselves – when the Inner Parent (positive or negative) is not telling us who to be or how to act.
It’s expressed the way any happy child does – combining curiosity, intuition & creativity – as well as all emotions as they surface, without judgements. It’s the time when we play, are creative & fun to be with. The NC is the state which loves. When we have a healthy sense of play our life becomes more balanced. Without access to the Natural Child life is quite dull, limited & stilted.
● It represents our True Self, as unique & individual as our fingerprints. It’s what we were born as, our heredity, our native capacities & tendencies, but which often goes unrecognized, unexplored, unappreciated…. or deliberately suppressed! It’s largely un-selfconscious, expressing non-verbal noises such as ‘yahoo, whee’…. It enjoys life, is open, vulnerable & is seen in autonomous, *spontaneous actions.
*Spontaneous: any behavior / communication coming from a natural emotion or native tendency, without constraint. Occurring without apparent external influence, force or cause. REQUIREMENT: a low-level of anxiety, even if only in the short-term!
• All forms of personality inventory (Myers-Briggs, MMPI, Astrology, Numerology, Enneagram…) are basically designed to identify the native characteristics of the NC. This is the part we want to bring forward, encourage to express itself – that part of us that will shine, if allowed!
The Child E.S. can be seen at any age. However, it’s important to NOT idealize the NC, such as when some people call it the Golden Child, because it puts a burden on it that’s not realistic – to be perfect. Since the NC is our essence, it is by definition: human = imperfect, which is normal.
Some Characteristics of the Natural Child:
● Genuine emotions, & is not afraid to let others know how it feels, & can stand up for its rights
● Brainstorms, is curious, creative, intuitive, has drive, with a great capacity for enjoyment, self-expression & being in the moment
● Likes to explore, have adventures, and sometimes be impulsive, “leaping before you look”.
● It is by nature optimistic, idealistic, exuberant, joyful. Its goal is self-actualization & intimacy/ human relating.
● Is natively either an Introvert or Extrovert (each person has their own degree of it on a continuum)
● Very literal, overly-truthful / blunt, insensitive to others’ feelings, since it is naturally self-centered
● Can be selfish, immature or over-emotional, willful, not liking to share or take turns, out of touch with the real world or naive.
● It may be rebellious or co-operative, depending on circumstances & the developmental stage it’s in at the time
NOTE: One reason being high or drunk is so appealing to many is that it tends to free the Adapted Child from the Critical Parent’s influence and ‘transform’ the person by releasing them into their Natural Child
NEXT: Child E.S. – Adapted (Part 3)