“Why do I need to talk about my childhood?”

This is a question I often get asked by clients first entering counselling.

“I survived” a client once said to me with a big shrug, “why does it matter, let’s move on”.

I completely see his point but the reason therapists are so interested in childhood, is because it is where we develop our values and sense of self.

As we unpick it, we begin to see why we are the way we are and able to see the roots to some of our behaviours and how they developed.

Very few people have a perfect childhood. However if we get the unconditional love and attention we need from our primary care giver, we mostly muddle through, knowing we are safe and loved just as we are.

Sadly many of many of us do not get the kind of childhood we all need so much to develop a good sense of self and self worth.

We might have gotten the message we would be loved but only if we behaved or pushed down our feelings; we may have been loved conditionally.

We learn to adapt ourselves to secure that love and this may mean pushing down our own needs.

So by examining our childhood with the eyes of an adult, we can begin to feel love and compassion for that child who thought this was normal (this is all we knew).

We begin to forgive ourselves for behaviours we learnt to survive our childhood angst and sadness.

We may have survived childhood, but now as adults we want to thrive and that means examining our past with honesty and self compassion.

In therapy we often explore the relationship we have with our childhood and the child that still resides in all of us.

By exploring this we can begin to heal that childhood, feel compassion for ourselves and very importantly; become the parent for ourselves that we may not have had. We call this ‘reparenting’.

I often see an inner child ‘acting out’, if it is being ignored or is scared, it starts to run the show. It becomes the ‘outer child’.

Strong emotions that feel overwhelming are often a sign we need to step in as a ‘functional adult’ and comfort ourselves. A therapist can really help with this and encourage you to try strategies to help.

If you feel your childhood and life experiences are holding you back, do come in to therapy and see if we can resolve this this together.