Summary of Homecoming by John Bradshaw

  • Post category:Summaries
  • Post last modified:February 2, 2024

Short Summary: 2 min

Summary: 1h11

Book reading time: 7h16

Score: 9/10

Book published in: 1992

Access the Summary Database


  • Addictions, emptiness, depression, lack of energy, or neurotic behaviors are rooted in unmet childhood needs.
  • Unmet needs stop emotional growth. Once grown up, the adult has an inner wounded child inside of him (or her) which prevents him from living a normal emotional life.
  • You can solve your unmet needs by going back to the trauma, releasing it, and giving your inner child what he needed but didn’t receive during childhood.
  • This book will help you do so with short writing exercises, short meditations, affirmations, and visualizations.
  • As you connect to your inner child, you connect to the primary source of identity and feelings which drastically improve your life, mood, and relationships.
  • Once you have grieved and processed the traumas (called “reclaiming the inner child”), you can teach him what he didn’t learn as a result of his stunt growth. This is the reeducation phase.
  • Once the child has been taught what he needed to learn, you can champion, protect, and integrate him.

Warning! Do not do the exercises offered in this article if:

  • You have been diagnosed as mentally ill or have a history of mental illness.
  • You’re an untreated victim of physical or sexual violence, including rape.
  • You were severely battered emotionally.
  • You are a recovering chemical addict without a year of continuous sobriety.
  • You do not have your therapist’s permission.

This article is a summary of a book, not medical advice.

Table of Contents

Click to expand/collapse

What Homecoming Talks About

Homecoming is a book written by John Bradshaw. The book is a complete method to heal what Bradshaw calls “the inner child”, the archetype we embodied as children and that has been wounded by toxic shame and trauma.

I have highlighted in Healing the Shame That Binds You that it was the last self-development book anyone needed.

So why read this one? Because while Healing the Shame did an excellent job of describing the problem, it did not expand much on how to solve it.

Homecoming does the opposite. It doesn’t take much time to explain what toxic shame is – in fact, toxic shame doesn’t appear much across the book. But it expands *a lot* on how to reclaim your inner child, heal it, protect it, and champion it.

Put together, the books resemble a lot How to Be an Adult.

I am not going to lie, the main value in the book is the exercise, and while I have retranscripted most of them (those that concerned me the most), I did not write about the others.

So you’d be better off reading the book. This summary is enormous anyway.

A word of warning though: like everything of value, this isn’t easy.


Get the book here.

Short Summary of Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child

When a child is shamed for expressing certain feelings like anger or hurt, the feelings stay and the child becomes an adult with unresolved childhood business.

It is said that the inner child is wounded. You have a wounded inner child if you:

  • Are Co-depend
  • Commit offensive behavior
  • Have narcissistic disorders
  • Have trust Issues
  • Act out/in
  • Have magical beliefs (Eg: I just need to find the right partner/money/xyz and everything will be fine.)
  • Have intimacy dysfunctions
  • Behave in a nondisciplined way
  • Are addicted
  • Distort thought
  • Feel emptiness (Apathy, Depression)

You can solve these by going back to your childhood and solving what was not solved.

The first step is to help your wounded inner child grieve its unmet developmental dependency needs.

Most of the behavioral problems come from unmet needs that have never been resolved because the emotions that needed to be expressed were not expressed.

The wounded inner child inside the adult you have now become is still trying to get those needs met as a child.

To fix these, you will need to do the following:

  • Reclaim your wounded inner child.
  • Champion your wounded inner child

To reclaim your wounded inner child, you’ll need to go back to these uncomfortable memories and let your inner child know that you can provide him with what he didn’t get as a kid.

We do this in three acts.

First, write down everything you remember from your family system, especially the shame and the secrets.

Second, write a letter to your inner child. Tell him you love him and tell him you will provide him every thing he needs, and everything he didn’t get as kid.

Third, with a meditation you can read in the long summary.

Once you have done so, you have reclaimed your wounded inner child.

The next step is championing, that means defending him and becoming a new parent to him. You need to teach him what he didn’t learn as a result of the shame that provided him from growing up.

Championing is articulated around “four P’s”:

  • Potency: List ten things you now own or are capable of doing that you could not own or do as a child, then tell your inner child about them.
  • Permission: it’s okay to see reality as it is, to make mistakes, and to feel what you feel. But it’s also important to delay gratification and be responsible.
  • Protection: find a new “family” for your inner child and dialogue with him through writing. Pay attention to what he feels.

Once you have done these, you can practice becoming a human being instead of being a human doing.

This entails taking the time to just be without doing anything.

Once you have done the ego work, you’re ready for full self-actualization and integration of the child.

Summary of Homecoming Written by John Bradshaw

Part 1: The Problem of the Wounded Inner Child

Chapter 1: How Your Wounded Inner Child Contaminates Your Life

When a child’s development is arrested, when feelings are repressed, especially the feelings of anger and hurt, a person grows up to be an adult with an angry, hurt child inside of him.

Until we reclaim and champion that inner child, he will never be at peace – and neither will us.

The inner child is the symbolic embodiment of all the childhood memories, experiences, and feelings that we carry into adulthood.

This wounded inner child contaminates us in several ways:

  • Co-dependence
  • Offender Behaviors
  • Narcissistic Disorders
  • Trust Issues
  • Acting Out/Acting In Behaviors
  • Magical Beliefs
  • Intimacy Dysfunctions
  • Nondisciplined Behaviors
  • Addictive/Compulsive Behaviors
  • Thought Distortions
  • Emptiness (Apathy, Depression)

Let’s go through each of them.


Co-dependence is a disease characterized by a loss of identity when you are completely out of touch with your own feelings, needs, and desires so you invest your identity into something or someone else.

Eg: your partner tells you they have a problem and you can’t sleep because of it.

In alcoholics’ families for example, everyone becomes co-dependent on the alcoholic.

Because the drinking is so life-threatening to each family member, they adapt by becoming chronically alert (hypervigilant).

Over time, a person living with the chronic distress of alcoholic behavior loses touch with his own internal cues-his own feelings, needs, and desires.

Children need safe and healthy models to grow up well. When their environment is filled with violence, the child only focuses on the external environment and loses his capacity to generate self-esteem within.

Co-dependent behavior indicates that the person’s childhood needs were unmet, and therefore he cannot know who he is.

Offender Behaviors

The wounded inner child is responsible for much of the violence and cruelty in the world.

Some children victims of violence identified with the perpetrator and reenact it later on.

Offender behavior, the major source of human destruction, is the result of childhood violence and the suffering and unresolved grief of that abuse.

Narcissistic Disorders

Every child needs to be loved unconditionally-at least in the beginning. Without the mirroring eyes of a nonjudgmental parent or caretaker, a child has no way of knowing who he is.

If you want to love, you need to be loved first to get a healthy self-esteem.

If your needs for love weren’t met as a child, you may turn out narcissistic.

The narcissistically deprived inner child contaminates the adult with an insatiable craving for love, attention, and affection.

Your inner child will sabotage your relationships because no matter how much love you receive, it’s never enough.

Only grieving the loss of the love will bring you peace.

Until that is done, the insatiable child will voraciously seek the love and esteem he or she did not get in childhood.

Narcissistic and love-deprived adults usually are:

  • Disappointed in their relationships.
  • Looking for the perfect lover who will fill all their needs.
  • Addicted
  • They seek material things and money to get a sense of self
  • They seek continuous adulation and admiration
  • They use their own children to meet their needs

Trust Issues

When caretakers are untrustworthy, children develop a deep sense of distrust toward the world that manifests itself as dangerous to them.

The child develops a tendency to control things and be on his guard, becoming a control addict.

A person who never learned to trust confuses intensity with intimacy, obsession with care, and control with security.

Acting Out and Acting in Behaviors

Emotions are the fuel that moves us to defend ourselves and get our basic needs met.

Emotions are energies in motion.

Sadness cleanses and resolves your distress; grief frees your energies in the present.

When you don’t grieve, the past is left unfinished and the energy no longer moves you. It’s trapped and you become tired.

Unresolved and unexpressed, this energy continually tries to resolve itself.

This energy feeds abnormal behaviors (acting out) which is often a reenactment of the trauma. Reenactment gives the victim the chance to live the trauma again to “solve it” -> Maybe if I’m perfect this time, I’ll receive love and affection.

Reenacting the trauma on other people is acting out. Doing it on yourself is acting in.

Eg: when people cannot express their anger externally, they express it internally. This leads them to become depressed, apathetic, inept, and powerless.

This energy can also cause gastrointestinal disorders, headaches, backaches, neck aches, severe muscle tension, arthritis, asthma, heart attacks, and cancer.

Magical Beliefs

Magic is the belief that certain words, gestures, or behaviors can change reality.

When parents tell their children that their behavior directly caused someone else’s feelings, they reinforce magic beliefs.

Eg of magical beliefs:

  • I just need to find the right partner and everything will be fine.
  • I just need to have more money and everything…
  • I just need to get this degree and I will be smart
  • If I wait, I will get what I want
  • If I try harder, I will get what I want

Children are told fairy tales where princesses must wait for the charming prince to appear and where boys have to find the one for them.

When your inner child is healthy, you grow out of these stories. When he’s not, you keep believing in them.

Intimacy Dysfunctions

There are two main relational fears in life:

  • Abandonment: leads one to stay in abusive relationships.
  • Engulfment: leads one to never have relationships.

The wounded inner child contaminates intimacy in relationships because he has no sense of his authentic self.

The rejection of your authentic self leads you to create a false self (the self you think you need to embody) to receive the love you didn’t get.

image 1
Intimacy dysfunctions.

Gradually, you believe that your false self is who you really are.

It is impossible to be intimate if you have no sense of self.

To build a stronger sense of self you must establish boundaries.

  • Physical boundaries protect your body.
  • Sexual boundaries keep you safe and comfortable.
  • Emotional boundaries tell you where your emotions end and where others’ begin.

When a child is neglected and abused, his boundaries are violated and the fear of engulfment/abandonment is increased.

Intimacy dysfunctions lead to sexual dysfunctions caused by:

  • Poor sexual modeling
  • Parents’ disappointment in the child’s gender
  • Neglect of the child’s developmental dependency needs

A child victimized by parental contempt and humiliation is often set up for sadomasochistic sexual behavior.

Nondisciplined Behaviors

Children need parents who model discipline rather than preach it.

When parents fail to model discipline, the child becomes undisciplined; when parents rigidly discipline, the child becomes overdisciplined.

The undisciplined children:

  • Procrastinate
  • Don’t delay gratification
  • Rebel

Overdisciplined children are:

  • Rigid
  • Obsessive
  • Overly controlled and obedient
  • People pleasing
  • Full of shame and guilt

Most people, though, balance between the two.

Addictive/Compulsive Behaviors

The wounded inner child is the major cause of addictions and addictive behavior.

The wounded inner child is in a constant state of craving and insatiable neediness. His shame is so toxic that the adult engages in mood-altering activities and becomes addicted.

When alcoholics solve their addiction, they often become addicted to something else -> addiction is a consequence, not a cause.

Cognitive addictions are a powerful way to avoid feelings.

Thinking can be a way to avoid feelings. All addictions have a thinking component, which is called obsession.

People can also get addicted to feelings.

Thought Distortions

Children think in extreme (black or white terms) not in nuances.

Eg: if my parents don’t love me, they hate me.

When a child’s developmental dependency needs are not met, the adult he became remains stuck in the inner child’s mode of thinking.

When children don’t learn to split thoughts from emotions, they split their hearts from their heads leading to two thought distortions: universalizing and detailing. None of them are problematic in themselves but become problematic when you use them to distract yourself from your feelings.

Emptiness (Apathy, Depression)

The wounded inner child also contaminates adult life with a low grade chronic depression experienced as emptiness.

Depression is a consequence of false self-adoption and true self-repression.

The emptiness one feels is the abandonment of the true self.

Eg: being nice.

To have a false self is to act, that is, not be yourself. It feels like “standing on the sideline, watching life happening to other people”.

Feeling empty is a form of chronic depression, as one is perpetually in mourning for one’s true self.

Emptiness can also be experienced as apathy and loneliness.

Because we are never who we really are, we are never truly present. And even if people admire and hang on to us, we feel alone.

This shows how the wounded inner child contaminates with self-centeredness.

Adult children are self-absorbed. Their emptiness is like a chronic toothache. When one is in chronic pain, all one can think of is himself.

Acute self-consciousness is so correlated with misery that they may be the same thing. 

Jordan Peterson

Chapter 2: How Your Wonderful Inner Child Got Wounded

Children are wonderful.

  • Wonder
  • Optimism
  • Naivete
  • Dependence
  • Emotions
  • Resilience
  • Free Play
  • Uniqueness
  • Love


The natural child feels wonder with all his senses.

If the parents repressed their natural sense of wonder as kids, they will do the same to their own children -> the children close up, fear exploration and risk-taking.

Life becomes a problem to be solved rather than an adventure to be lived, and he (the child) becomes dull and plays it safe.


Children naturally believe the world is friendly; they have hope; all is possible and lies ahead.

This openness to others is the reason why children can be so hurt by their caretakers.

When a child trusts completely, he is vulnerable to violation and abuse.

Children need to learn how to “defend themselves” and they learn it from their caretakers.

When a child is abused and shamed, his openness and trust are deadened. The bond that allowed him to trust and move forward optimistically is severed.

The child becomes vigilant, anxious, and in the most extreme cases, pessimistic. He loses hope and understands he needs to manipulate to get his needs met.

Optimism and trust are the soul of intimacy.


Children don’t have inherent senses of right and wrong and are often surprised when their caretakers are angry at them. Parents should be patient and understanding with their children.


Children are dependent and needy by nature, not by choice.

The child depends on others to get his needs met which is his greatest vulnerability. The child doesn’t know when he needs what as this rests entirely on the skills and goodwill of his caretakers.

When the caretakers have wounded inner child themselves, their neediness prevents them from tending to the needs of their children. They get angry at their children or seek to get their needs met through their children.

The child does not get his own needs met as a result.


Two emotions are unique to human infants-laughter and weeping.

Humor is one of the most important skills, so much that it has survival value. When people begin to do better, they stop taking themselves seriously.

Parents with wounded inner children often squash that sense of humor.

  • Don’t laugh so loud.
  • Stop making noise
  • Etc

Children who are repressed when they are laughing and joyful learn to be somber and stoic.

The other side of laughter is weeping, which is a unique human thing.

Joy enables us to bond while tears enable us to signal distress and receive aid and comfort.

Children who are shamed for weeping are severely damaged in their development.

Of course, most people have been repressed for weeping.


Resilience is the ability to bounce back from distress induced by the environment.

Children are naturally resilient and courageous and the younger they are, the more resilient.

Rudolf Dreikurs believed that misbehaving children are discouraged and must hence manipulate to get what they want.

Free Play

Freedom and spontaneity form the structure of play. Free play enables a child to explore and test the limits of things aka going further than where they are.

Unfortunately, free play has been transformed into an aggressive drive to win. Free play should be done for pleasure and delight only.

To be human is to be playful.


Children have an inherent sense of wholeness.

The child’s natural sense of his value and dignity is very precarious, as it demands immediate mirroring and echoing from a nurturing caretaker.

If the caretakers don’t love the child as he is, he will lose that sense of uniqueness.


The child must first be loved before he can love.

If he is not loved for who he is, his true self never really emerges.

The failure to be loved unconditionally causes the child to suffer the deepest of all deprivations.

The need for love never leaves the wounded inner child, so he tries to fill this void…by being childish.

In reclaiming and championing your wounded inner child, you give him the positive, unconditional acceptance that he craves.

The Spiritual Wound

All the ways in which the wonder child is wounded can be summed up as the loss of I AMness.

Every child needs to know that:

  1. His parents can take care of him (spending enough time with them)
  2. He matters to them (his specialness is reflected in the eyes of his parents).

Children from dysfunctional families will be wounded to some degree. The parents are too absorbed in their addictions/issues/themselves to properly take care of their children.

The frustration of a child’s desire to be loved as a person and to have his love accepted is the greatest trauma that a child can experience.

No parents in a dysfunctional family can give their child what he needs, because they are too needy themselves.

All of these types of abuse create toxic shame, the feeling of being flawed and diminished and never measuring up.

Guilt is about what you do -> it is something you can fix.

Shame is about who you are -> who you are is wrong and there’s nothing you can do to fix that.

Part 2: Reclaiming Your Wounded Inner Child


When you are finished, no band will play, calling you to a banquet.

Reclaiming your inner child involves going back through your developmental stages and finishing your unfinished business.

The first step is to help your wounded inner child grieve its unmet developmental dependency needs.

Most of the behavioral problems come from unmet needs that have never been resolved because the emotions that needed to be expressed were not expressed.

The wounded inner child inside the adult you have now become is still trying to get those needs met as a child.

Childhood consists of four different developmental stages characterized by a crisis (increased vulnerability) with the adults around us.

These crises are internal strengths that reinforce the ego:

  1. Hope: the infant feels a greater sense of trust rather than mistrust in his caretakers.
  2. Willpower: gains a greater sense of autonomy than of shame and doubt.
  3. Purpose: the sense of initiative is stronger than the sense of guilt.
  4. Competence: greater sense of superiority than inferiority.

These four ego strengths give four powers:

  1. The power of being
  2. The power of doing
  3. The power of identity
  4. The power of having basic survival skills

These will have to be reinforced later in life.

These stages and powers are recycled every 13 years in life.

A small mistake in infancy can have a big impact in adulthood.

Our early childhood stages provide the foundation for our adult life. Those of us who are adult children from dysfunctional families lack this foundation.

You can reclaim your childhood by grieving your wounds. Grieving is painful, but this is the only way.

Grief work…demands that we reexperience what we could not experience when we lost our parents, our childhood, and, most of all, our sense of I AMness.

The following exercises will help you fix those wounds.

One warning:

One way adult children avoid their legitimate suffering is by staying in their heads. This involves obsessing about things, analyzing, discussing, reading, and spending lots of energy in trying to figure things out. There is a story about a room with two doors. Each door has a sign on it. One says HEAVEN; the other says LECTURE ON HEAVEN. All the co-dependent adult children are lined up in front of the door that says LECTURE ON HEAVEN!

Adults children have an inherent need to figure things out because their parents were unpredictable.

They do so by analyzing and never get out of their problems.

Staying in one’s head is also an ego defense. By obsessing on things, one does not have to feel. To feel anything is to tap in to the immense reservoir of frozen feelings that are bound by your wounded child’s toxic shame.

Doing the work is a process, not an event.

Don’t expect fireworks “at the end.” No one will tell you when the end has been reached.

Chapter 3: Original Pain Work

Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.

Carl Jung

Problems cannot be solved with words, but only through experience, not merely corrective experience but through a reliving of early fear (sadness, anger).

Alice Miller

The current healthcare system does not treat pain, co-dependency, or addictions well.

Once toxically shamed, a person loses contact with his authentic self. What follows is a chronic mourning for the lost self.

The loss of self usually leads to depression because toxic shame leads you to repress your feelings and be numb.

This feeling of numbness results in addictions because it is the only thing that will make you feel something.

A chronically depressed man who becomes a superachieving executive through his work addiction can feel only when he is working.

When a shame-based person feels his real feelings, he feels shame, so he numbs the pain with ego defenses:

  1. Denial (“it’s not really happening”)
  2. Repression (“it never happened”)
  3. Dissociation (“I don’t remember what happened”)
  4. Projection (“it’s happening to you, not to me”)
  5. Conversion (“I eat or have sex when I feel it happening”)
  6. Minimizing (“it happened, but it’s no big deal”).

The Primacy of Emotions

Emotions reflect what we are experiencing. Because emotions are a form of energy – they are expressed in the body even before we are consciously aware.

According to Tomkins, there are six primary motivators:

  1. Interest
  2. Enjoyment
  3. Surprise
  4. Distress
  5. Fear
  6. Anger

Shame interrupts the feeling of these emotions – it puts a limit on how much we experience them.

When your negative emotions are repressed, so are the positive ones.

Since your parents had their emotions repressed, they didn’t allow you to express yours either.

Kids are shamed for being too excited, curious, or inquisitive.

When the emotion accompanying a traumatic experience is blocked, the mind cannot evaluate or integrate the experience.

When emotional energy blocks the resolution of trauma, the mind itself becomes diminished in its ability to function.

The wounded inner child is filled with unresolved energy resulting from the sadness of childhood trauma.

You need to grieve the events of the past by enabling the sadness to arise as the energy remains frozen otherwise.

One of the rules of dysfunctional families is the no feel rule. This rule prohibited your inner child from even knowing what he was feeling.

Another dysfunctional rule is no talk where you are not allowed to even express emotions, or some emotions.

This animosity toward emotions comes from 300 years of “rationalism” (since the Enlightenment) during which the intellectual was favored over the emotional, leading to its repression.

Repressed Emotions

The earlier the emotions were repressed, the bigger the trauma. Repressed emotions cause the “original pain”, and the work to solve the associated trauma comes down to re-experiencing these.

Body therapists found out that emotions can be unexpressed and numbed through muscle tension (stretching/yoga can help).

Distress and the Brain

How does trauma affect us?

The brain has three parts:

  1. The reptilian brain: the oldest brain, it contains our most primitive strategy for safety and survival (repetition of what works for survival purposes).
  2. Paleomammalian brain: the limbic system (feelings).
  3. The neocortex: the thinking brain. Appeared about 2 million years ago.

These work independently but cooperate to minimize painful distress.

When distress peaks, the brain reestablishes balance by expressing the emotion (fear, anger, sadness, etc).

Children from dysfunctional families are taught not to express emotions in three ways.

  1. By being ignored.
  2. By not having any healthy models of emotional expression.
  3. By being shamed for expressing certain emotions.

These create stress so the brain uses ego defenses to maintain balance.

The Imprint of Early Trauma

The earlier the emotions are inhibited, the deeper the damage.

What the kid learned early in his life was learned by his reptilian brain, so it will be repeated

-> It’s hard to get rid of life-saving responses learned in infancy.
-> Neurotic people have a compulsion to repeat.

The Ego Defenses and the “Gated Brain”

You “act out”, “act in”, and “project” certain behaviors because the trauma has never been worked out. And you can’t work it out because the ego defense prevents you from knowing about the emotional pain.

Biologically, it appears that the three brains are interlinked and that when the emotion in the limbic system is too strong, the gateway to the neocortex is shut down.

The problem is that the emotions inside the limbic system don’t go away; they continue to travel within the system.

So the ego defenses bypass the tension and pain, but the tension and pain remain.

People with seemingly rational adult lives may continue to live stormy emotional lives. Their storms continue because their original pain is unresolved.

Original Pain Work

Original pain work involves actually experiencing the original repressed feelings.

The idea is to embrace your heartbroken inner child’s loneliness and unresolved grief, what Jung called “legitimate suffering”. This is grieving. You will heal if you are allowed to grieve.

The original pain is an accumulation of unresolved conflicts whose energy has snowballed over time.

The wounded inner child is frozen because his emotions are bound by toxic shame when he understood he could not depend on his caretakers.

In order to heal our toxically shamed emotions, we have to come out of hiding and trust someone. For your wounded inner child to come out of hiding, he must be able to trust that you will be there for him.

Validating Your Abuse

A lot of what you were done to was abuse because of your caretakers’ own wounded inner children.

It’s okay, your parents did the best they could, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t screw up.

If this is shocking, good! Shock is the first step of grief, followed by depression and denial.

The next feeling is anger, then hurt and sadness, then remorse. Remorse is wishing things had been different.

Then, the deepest core feelings of grief are toxic shame and loneliness.

We were shamed by their abandoning us. We feel we are bad, as if we’re contaminated. And that shame leads to our loneliness. Since our inner kid feels flawed and defective, he has to cover up his true self with his adapted false self.

Your inner child identifies with his false self and his true self remains alone and isolated.

As we embrace this feeling of shame, we release them and “come out on the other side”.

In embracing our shame and loneliness, we begin to touch our truest self.

Feeling the Feelings

All these feelings need to be felt. We need to stomp and storm; to sob and cry; to perspire and tremble.

It takes time and it’s a process, not an event. But people usually feel much better as soon as they do it.

The contact with the inner child, his knowing that someone is there and he will not have to go on alone, is joyous and brings immediate relief.

Grieving varies from person to person and no one knows how long it takes. The key is to let go of your ego defenses (at the right moment, of course, there are places and people with which it’s not safe to be defenseless).

Keep yourself safe when doing feeling work.

Chapter 4: Reclaiming Your Infant Self

Woman in the person of our mother, is the first being with whom we are in contact. It all begins with a true fusion of being…the child is an extension of the mother without clearly perceptible borders. There exists a participation mystique, a psychic flow from mother to child and from child to mother.

Karl Stern

Where the mother is not sufficiently in touch with her body she cannot give the child the bonding necessary to give it confidence in its own instincts. The child cannot relax into her body, nor later its own.

Marion Woodman

Whatever is most personal is most general.

Carl Rogers

Normal Infancy

A healthy self is developed based on several building blocks.

Illustration from the book.

In the first block, we have a life-or-death relationship with our mother since we are 100% dependent on her.

This bond creates an interpersonal bridge which is the foundation for every other relationship.

Toxic shame breaks that bridge and you come to believe you cannot depend on anyone.

  • Healthy narcissism: we need our mother to fully love us as we are and take us seriously.
  • Good mothering: The mother has to love herself to help the child love himself as well.
  • Mirroring: whatever the mother feels, we feel. Including toxic shame.
  • Touching: you had to be touched when you wanted to be touched.
  • Echoing: you had to hear peaceful voices around you and be who you are – not be who your parents needed you to be.

Being a good parent is the hardest job of all. You need:

  • To be mentally healthy.
  • To get your own needs met through your own resources – NOT through your children.
  • A spouse or significant other to support you.
  • To have healed your own wounded inner child.

You will wound your children to the extent to which your own inner child is wounded.

One hundred and eighty degrees from sick is still sick.


Your current neuroses are growth disorder. You weren’t well-raised and your lack of love is showing through your neurosis today.

Any child from a dysfunctional family system will feel emotional deprivation and abandonment. The natural response to emotional abandonment is a deep-seated toxic shame that engenders both primal rage and a deep-seated sense of hurt.

The first step in reclaiming your wounded inner child is debriefing, which means putting it out there. Get all of the information about the situation you can get (family history, parents status, etc) and write about it.

Then share with a friend (or somebody else), or anyone that will listen to you and validate your pain.

This person needs to mirror and echo your reality as an infant. If the person begins to question you, argues with you, or gives advice, you’re not getting what you need.

Don’t share this with a parent who was present during the events.

Writing Letters

You can also write letters. Imagine that you are an old wise wizard who wants to adopt a child – you as a child.

Now write a letter to the child with the following:

  • Tell your wonderful inner infant that you love him and are so glad that he is a boy/girl.
  • Tell him that you want him and will give him the time he needs to grow and develop.
  • Assure him that you know what he needs from you, that you will give it to him, and that you will work hard to see him as the precious and wonderfully unique person he is.

When you’re finished, read the letter aloud and notice how you feel.

Now write a letter to yourself from the perspective of the child. Use the hand you cannot write with.

What does the child want? Love? Acceptance? Write it up. You don’t need to write more than one paragraph.


One way to fulfill your unmet needs is through affirmations.

Here are the ones you can tell your inner child.

  • Welcome to the world, I’ve been waiting for you.
  • I’m so glad you are here. I’ve prepared a special place for you to live.
  • I like you just the way you are. I will not leave you, no matter what.
  • Your needs are okay with me. I’ll give you all the time you need to get your needs met.
  • I’m so glad you’re a boy (or a girl). I want to take care of you and I’m prepared to do that.
  • I like feeding you, bathing you, changing you, and spending time with you.
  • In all the world, there has never been another like you.
  • God smiled when you were born.

Inner Infant Meditation

You will need one hour, uninterrupted.

There are different stages in this meditation. The introductory part is used for all of them.

You can read and memorize it, or record it with your own voice.


  • Start by sitting quietly and becoming aware of your surroundings (space, time, clothes, air, breathing, etc).
  • Just for now, there’s no place you have to go and nothing you have to do.
  • You can close your eyes if you haven’t already done so.
  • If you have interrupting thoughts, that’s okay. Notice them, let them go.
  • As you continue your breathing, you can hold on to your consciousness as much as you want. Or you can let go in ways that you know which allow you to relax.
  • You learned to hold on and let go as a child.
  • And you really know just exactly how much to hold on and how much to let go.
  • And you can trust yourself to find just exactly what you need for you.
  • And now you may be feeling a kind of heaviness in your eyelids.
  • You can just let them close tightly.
  • You may feel that heaviness in your jaw, in your arms and hands.
  • You may feel like you can’t move your hands.
  • And you may feel like there is a heaviness in your legs and feet, like you can’t move your legs.
  • Or you may feel just the opposite, like your whole body is floating.
  • Like your hands and arms are like feathers.
  • You really know what you feel, heaviness or lightness.
  • And whatever that is, it is exactly right for you.
  • And now you can begin experiencing some childhood memories.
  • You can remember your first school days and your best friend in those days.
  • You can remember a kind teacher or neighbor.
  • And you can remember a house you lived in before you went to school.
  • What color was the house? Was it an apartment? A trailer? Did you live in the city? In the country?
  • Now you can see some of the rooms in that house.
  • Where did you spend your time in that house? Did you have a special room? Where was the dinner table?
  • See who is at the dinner table. What did it feel like to be at that table? What did it feel like to live in that house?

Specific infant stage

  • Now imagine or remember the house your family lived in when you were born. Imagine the room where you slept after you were born.
  • See the beautiful infant you were.
  • Hear your voice as you coo, cry, laugh.
  • Imagine you could hold your cuddly little self.
  • You are there as a wise and gentle wizard.
  • You are viewing your own infancy.
  • Who else is there? Your mom? Your dad?
  • What does it feel like to be born in this house to these people?
  • Now imagine you are that precious tiny infant looking out at all of this.
  • Look up at the grown-up you.
  • See yourself as a magical person, a wizard, or just yourself.
  • Feel the presence of someone who loves you.
  • Now imagine that the grown-up-you picked you up and held you.
  • Hear him tenderly tell you the following affirmations.
    • Welcome to the world, I’ve been waiting for you.
    • I’m so glad you are here.
    • I’ve prepared a special place for you to live.
    • I like you just the way you are.
    • I will not leave you, no matter what.
    • Your needs are okay with me.
    • I’ll give you all the time you need to get your needs met.
    • I’m so glad you’re a boy (or a girl).
    • I want to take care of you and I’m prepared to do that.
    • I like feeding you, bathing you, changing you, and spending time with you.
    • In all the world, there has never been another like you.
    • God smiled when you were born.
  • Let yourself feel whatever you feel when you hear these affirmations.
  • Now, let your grown-up-you put you down.
  • Hear him assure you that he will never leave you.
  • And that from now on, he will always be available to you.
  • Now become your grown-up self again.
  • Look at your precious little infant self.
  • Be aware that you have just reclaimed him.
  • Feel the sense of that homecoming.
  • That little infant is wanted, loved, and will never be alone again.
  • Walk out of that room, out of that house, and look back as you walk away.
  • Stroll forward up memory lane.
  • Walk past your first school.
  • Walk into your teenage years.
  • Walk into an early adult memory.
  • Now walk into where you are right now.
  • Feel your toes.
  • Wiggle them.
  • Feel the energy come up through your legs.
  • Feel energy in your chest as you take a deep breath.
  • Make a noise as you exhale.
  • Feel the energy in your arms and fingers.
  • Wiggle your fingers.
  • Feel the energy in your shoulders, neck, and jaw.
  • Stretch your arms.
  • Feel your face and be fully present.
  • Be fully restored to your normal waking consciousness.
  • And open your eyes.

Sometimes, people cannot see or hear the wounded inner child because they are the wounded inner child. Make sure to see yourself as a grown-up person talking to the inner child.

Chapter 5: Reclaiming Your Toddler Self

The Toddler stage (9-18 months then 18 months-3 years) is marked by the separation stage, a period during which the toddler separates himself from his parents under parental oversight.

Eg: he says “no”, “let me do it”, etc.

The wounded child’s growth disorder at this stage can be summed up as follows:

  • Spiritual wound – denial of I AMness. The spiritual wound often starts at this age and says that it is not okay to be you.
  • Toxic shame says that nothing about you is okay. What you feel, do, and think are wrong. You are defective as a human being.
  • Empowerment for offender behavior. Lack of discipline creates offender behavior. An offender wants what he wants no matter what the consequences. He takes no responsibility for his irresponsible behavior.
  • Compulsive overcontrol. By overadapting, your inner child became a people-pleasing caretaker. You learned to rule by the letter of the law. You are critical and judgmental of yourself and others.
  • Addictions. Your inner child can’t say no. You’re an addict. You overdrink, overeat, overspend, or oversex.
  • Isolation. Your inner child is isolated and alone. This is the only way he feels that he has any boundaries. No one can hurt you if you do not interact with anyone.
  • Lack of balance-boundary problems. Your inner child never learned to balance holding on and letting go which leads to:
    • You struggle to give money, emotions, praise, or love, OR the opposite: you are wild and crazy and totally out of control. You give away everything, including yourself.
    • Your lack of balance leads you to be a control freak with your children, or don’t give them any limit
    • You have severe relationship problems. You are either enmeshed, entwined, entrapped (can’t leave), or isolated and lonely in the relationship.


Write as much as you can about your toddler’s history using the following questions.

  1. Who was around when you were a toddler? Did your dad play with you? Was your mom present?
  2. How did your mom and dad discipline you? Did they beat you? Did they terrorize you emotionally?
  3. Did you have siblings? How did they treat you?
  4. Who was there for you? Who held you when you were scared or crying? Set firm but kind and gentle limits when you were angry? Who played, laughed, and had fun with you?

Write the family secrets (addictions, fights, etc).

Family secrets are always about the family’s toxic shame, and you need to understand as much as possible about that.

Think also about the excess discipline, and the lack of it.

Because the wounded child never got his needs met and was shamed the most when he was the most needy, he may feel that he is bothering people if he asks them to listen to him. In truth, you have every right to let others love and nurture you.

Letter Writing

Write a letter to your toddler self, from the adult you. Tell him you love him, you are there for him, and you know what he’s been through.

Then write a letter from the toddler you to your adult self, with your non-writing hand.


  • Little [your name], it’s okay to be curious, to want, to look, to touch and taste things.
  • I’ll make it safe for you to explore.
  • I love you just the way you are, little [your name]. I’m here to take care of your needs.
  • You don’t have to take care of mine. It’s okay for you to be taken care of, little [your name]. It’s okay to say no, little [your name]. I’m glad you want to be you.
  • It’s okay for both of us to be mad. We will work our problems out. It’s okay to feel scared when you do things your way. It’s okay to feel sad when things don’t work out for you.
  • I’ll not leave you no matter what! You can be you and still count on my being there for you.
  • I love watching you learn to walk and talk. I love watching you separate and start to grow up. I love and value you, little [your name].

Toddler Meditation

Start with the introduction.

Then continue with the following:

  • Imagine you could walk outside of that house and that you could see a little toddler playing in a sandbox.
  • Really look at him and get a feeling sense of this child.
  • Talk to this child. Say whatever you feel like saying.
  • Now let yourself float into the sandbox and be the little child.
  • What does it feel like to be this small child?
  • Look up at the grown-up you.
  • Hear this grown-up person as a wise and gentle wizard slowly tell you the following affirmations.
    • Little [your name], it’s okay to be curious, to want, to look, to touch and taste things.
    • I’ll make it safe for you to explore.
    • I love you just the way you are, little [your name]. I’m here to take care of your needs.
    • You don’t have to take care of mine. It’s okay for you to be taken care of, little [your name]. It’s okay to say no, little [your name]. I’m glad you want to be you.
    • It’s okay for both of us to be mad. We will work our problems out. It’s okay to feel scared when you do things your way. It’s okay to feel sad when things don’t work out for you.
    • I’ll not leave you no matter what! You can be you and still count on my being there for you.
    • I love watching you learn to walk and talk. I love watching you separate and start to grow up. I love and value you, little [your name].
  • If you feel like hugging the grown-up you, please do so.
  • As you hug the grown-up you, feel yourself become the grown-up you again.
  • Hold your little toddler self.
  • Make a commitment to love this carefree, exploring, curious part of yourself.
  • Tell the child: “I will never leave you. I will always be here for you.”
  • Be aware that you have just reclaimed your toddler self.
  • Feel the sense of that homecoming.
  • Your little toddler is wanted, loved, and will never be left alone again.
  • Walk away from that house.
  • Stroll forward up memory lane.
  • Walk past your early schoolyard.
  • Feel yourself in the space you’re in right now.
  • Feel your toes.
  • Wiggle them.
  • Feel the energy come up through your legs.
  • Feel energy in your chest as you take a deep breath.
  • Make a noise as you exhale.
  • Feel the energy in your arms and fingers.
  • Wiggle your fingers.
  • Feel the energy in your shoulders, neck, and jaw.
  • Stretch your arms.
  • Feel your face and be fully present.
  • Be fully restored to your normal waking consciousness.
  • And open your eyes.

Chapter 6: Reclaiming Your Preschool Self

Normal Preschool

At around 3 years old, you began to ask lots of questions so you can figure out who you are. It’s not easy to do, so children use egocentrism as protection.

Egocentrism is the incapacity to understand the world from someone else’s point of view (fully appears only at 16).

The job of a good parent is to model good behavior for their children. Sons must bond with their fathers.

Bonding requires physical touching as well as emotional sharing.

It is vital for a girl to have her father, but it is not as crucial as a boy’s need for his father. A girl is already bonded with her mother and needs to separate from her. A boy is bonded to his mother, but not in the same way as a girl, because of the incest taboo. A boy must protect himself against carrying his mother’s projected sexuality.

Growth Disorder

Growth disorder at this stage shows the long-term results of family dysfunction.

Children copy their parents, so if their parents are shame-based, so will the children -> they will have difficulties forming intimate relationships.

Adult children, having long ago buried their authentic selves and lost their sense of I AMness, cannot give themselves to their partners because they don’t have a self to give.

When adult children marry, they choose someone who is a projection of their parents.

Eg: a hero caretaker will marry a victim.

No one is who they are in dysfunctional families – they are all pieces of a dysfunctional system.

As a result, everyone gets fixed in a rigid role dictating:

  • What to do
  • What to believe
  • What to feel

The lack of identity is why dysfunctional families are dominated by toxic guilt.

The lack of individuality prohibits them from feeling that they have the right to a life of their own, so they develop toxic guilt instead.


Write out everything you can about those years and write about the family system.

What were your dad and mom doing? What was going on in their marriage?

Letter Writing

Write three letters.

  1. From the grown-up you to your wounded inner preschooler. Tell him that you love and value him.
  2. From your wounded inner child to your parents. This letter consists of two paragraphs, one to your mom and one to your dad. Let your wounded inner child tell them what he wanted and needed from them that he never got. This is not a blame letter; it is an expression of loss.
  3. From your wounded inner child to you.

Dysfunctional Family-System Roles

Identify the roles your wounded inner child chose in order to matter in the family.

  • Superresponsible One
  • Overachiever
  • Rebel
  • Underachiever
  • People Pleaser (nice guy/sweetheart)
  • Caretaker
  • Offender

What feelings did you have to repress to play your role?

As long as you continue to play your roles, you stay in the spiritual wound; you may go to your death never knowing who you are.

Imagine you stop playing your role. Now imagine three ways you could stop to play, say, the caretaker role.

  • Say no when someone asks for your help.
  • Ask for help.


  • Little [your name], I love watching you grow.
  • I will be here for you to test your boundaries and find out your limits.
  • It’s okay for you to think for yourself.
  • You can think about your feelings and have feelings about what you’re thinking.
  • I like your life energy; I like your curiosity about sex.
  • It’s okay to find out the difference between boys and girls.
  • I’ll set limits for you to help you find out who you are.
  • I love you just the way you are, little [your name],
  • It’s okay for you to be different; to have your own views on things.
  • It’s okay to imagine things without being afraid they’ll come true.
  • I’ll help you separate fantasy from reality.
  • I like it that you’re a boy/girl.
  • It’s okay to cry even though you’re growing up.
  • It’s good for you to find out the consequences of your behavior.
  • You can ask for what you want.
  • You can ask questions if something confuses you. You are not responsible for your parents’ marriage.
  • You are not responsible for your dad. You are not responsible for your mom.
  • You are not responsible for the family problems.
  • You are not responsible for your parents’ divorce.
  • It’s okay to explore who you are.

Preschooler Meditation

Use the introduction then continue.

  • Now see your inner child at about age 5.
  • Imagine he had walked outside the house and you could see him sitting in the backyard.
  • Walk over to him and say hello.
  • Tell him you are from his future and are here to be with him whenever he needs you.
  • Now let yourself become your inner preschool child.
  • Look up at the big you (the wise and gentle wizard).
  • See your kind, loving face.
  • Hear the big you tell the little you to come sit on your lap if you want to.
  • It’s okay if you don’t.
  • Now hear the big you give the affirmations slowly and tenderly.
    • Little [your name], I love watching you grow.
    • I will be here for you to test your boundaries and find out your limits.
    • It’s okay for you to think for yourself.
    • You can think about your feelings and have feelings about what you’re thinking.
    • I like your life energy; I like your curiosity about sex.
    • It’s okay to find out the difference between boys and girls.
    • I’ll set limits for you to help you find out who you are.
    • I love you just the way you are, little [your name].
    • It’s okay for you to be different; to have your own views on things.
    • It’s okay to imagine things without being afraid they’ll come true.
    • I’ll help you separate fantasy from reality.
    • I like it that you’re a boy/girl.
    • It’s okay to cry even though you’re growing up.
    • It’s good for you to find out the consequences of your behavior.
    • You can ask for what you want.
    • You can ask questions if something confuses you.
    • You are not responsible for your parents’ marriage.
    • You are not responsible for your dad.
    • You are not responsible for your mom.
    • You are not responsible for the family problems.
    • You are not responsible for your parents’ divorce.
    • It’s okay to explore who you are.
  • Let the child feel whatever he feels
  • Now slowly become the big you again
  • Tell your preschool inner child that you are here now and that you will be talking to him a whole lot
  • Tell him that you are the only person he will never lose, and that you will never leave him
  • Say goodbye for now and start walking forward up memory lane
  • Feel yourself coming into the present
  • Feel your feet wiggle
  • Wiggle your toes
  • Feel the energy come up through your body
  • Feel your hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Feel the energy come up through your upper body
  • Take a very deep breath
  • Make a sound as you exhale
  • Feel the energy in your face
  • Feel where you are sitting
  • Your clothes on your body
  • Now slowly open your eyes
  • Sit for a few minutes and experience whatever you are experiencing

Chapter 7 Reclaiming Your School-Age Self

Normal School Age

The most important skill the child has to learn at school is socialization, cooperation, interdependency, and a healthy sense of competition.

Concrete Logical Thinking

Children become logical thinkers around 7-8 and believe that adults, because they are adults, cannot be malevolent.

Your inner school-age child was a delightful, playful, charming little person, who loved to be connected with his friends and was eager and curious to learn.

Growth Disorder

School and prison are the only places where time matters more than the job. The child who does not learn fast enough repeats a grade -> immaturity is penalized.

The grading system itself is very shaming and distressing. It puts constant pressure on a child to memorize and achieve.

Since the system is perfectionistic in nature, you never measure up -> you acquire a feeling of being defective.

Children who fail at school feel inferior, which results in them believing that they’re not okay.

Children who do well at school transform every situation as potential for performance.


Write down your inner school-age child’s history (from 6 years old to early puberty).

And then write down the aspiring adult figures and the shaming ones.


Write the three most important events of each year until 13 years old.

Writing a Myth or Fairy Tale

You’re free to use the letter format from last time or use the myth or fairy tale format.

Your myth or fairy tale can focus on an event or events that occurred during your school years, or on an earlier event that strongly affected you.

Your story should have two parts. Part one should begin with “Once upon a time,” and describe the events you have chosen, focusing on how they created the spiritual wound. Part two should begin with “And when she/he grew up,” and should focus on the later life-damaging effects of the spiritual wound.

Always read your story out loud when you’re done.

Dysfunctional Family-System Roles

Get in touch with the roles you played during that period.

These can be:

  • Mom’s Little Man
  • Mom’s Surrogate Spouse
  • Mom’s Sorority Sister (Best Friend)
  • Mom’s Mom
  • Dad’s Little Princess (Baby Doll)
  • Dad’s Surrogate Spouse
  • Dad’s Best Buddy
  • Dad’s Dad


  • Little [your name], you can be who you are at school
  • You can stand up for yourself and I’ll support you
  • It’s okay to learn to do things your own way
  • It’s okay to think about things and try them out before you make them your own
  • You can trust your own judgments; you need only take the consequences of your choices
  • You can do things your own way, and it’s okay to disagree
  • I love you just the way you are, little [your name]
  • You can trust your feelings
  • If you’re afraid, tell me; it’s okay to be afraid, and we can talk about it
  • You can choose your own friends
  • You can dress the way the other kids dress, or you can dress your own way
  • You deserve to have the things you want
  • I’m willing to be with you no matter what
  • I love you, little [your name]

School-Age Meditation

Use the introduction, then continue.

  • What was it like in your house when you first went to school?
  • Do you remember your very first day of school?
  • Do you remember your first day in any of the different grades?
  • Did you have a lunch box?
  • A book satchel?
  • How did you get to school?
  • Were you afraid to go to school?
  • Were there any bullies who scared you?
  • Who was your favorite teacher?
  • Did you have a man or woman teacher?
  • Imagine the school playground
  • See your school-age self on the playground
  • What is he doing?
  • What is he wearing?
  • Walk up to him and imagine you could become him
  • Now you are a young schoolchild looking at the grown-up you
  • You see yourself as a wise and gentle wizard
  • Hear your grown-up voice
  • Hear your grown-up voice saying warm and loving things to you
    • Little [your name], you can be who you are at school
    • You can stand up for yourself and I’ll support you
    • It’s okay to learn to do things your own way
    • It’s okay to think about things and try them out before you make them your own
    • You can trust your own judgments; you need only take the consequences of your choices
    • You can do things your own way, and it’s okay to disagree
    • I love you just the way you are, little [your name]
    • You can trust your feelings
    • If you’re afraid, tell me; it’s okay to be afraid, and we can talk about it
    • You can choose your own friends
    • You can dress the way the other kids dress, or you can dress your own way
    • You deserve to have the things you want
    • I’m willing to be with you no matter what
    • I love you, little [your name]
  • Let yourself feel whatever you feel
  • Say goodbye to your gentle wizard, and hug him, if you want to
  • Slowly let yourself become your adult self again
  • Tell your inner school-age child that you will be here for him from now on
  • Tell him that he can count on you

Chapter 8: Pulling Yourself Together – A New Adolescence

Normal Adolescence

A healthy achievement of the critical tasks of adolescence depends on the ego strengths developed in childhood.

Adolescent identity is a reformed identity. To achieve it, we must integrate our genetic abilities and the ego strengths and skills cultivated earlier with the opportunities offered by our culture’s social roles.

This means that your identity will come from love (the mirroring in the eyes of others) and work (career).

Normal adolescence looks as follows:

  • Ambivalence
  • Distancing from parents
  • Occupation
  • Loneliness
  • Ego identity
  • Sexual exploration
  • Conceptualization
  • Egocentric thinking
  • Narcissism
  • Communication frenzy
  • Experimentation


Outlined in the desire to become an adult accompanied by the fear of becoming one.

Distancing From Parents

To leave them, the teenager has to make his parents unattractive, achieved through the peer group. The peer group becomes the new parents.


The number one worry in the teenagers’ lives is questions about their career.


No matter how many friends you have, you feel lonely.

Ego Identity

The questions of “who am I” and “where am I going” are the results of the adolescent’s new mental abilities.

Sexual Exploration


Teenagers idealize, model, and dream.


Communication Frenzy


Teenagers try different identities to find themselves.

Growth Disorder

Adolescents often act out their families’ unexpressed secrets. Sexual acting out is natural during this time of emerging sexual energy.

A mum’s sexual shame may come out in her daughter’s promiscuity.


Not knowing who you are is the greatest tragedy of all. The rigid family-system roles sealed during adolescence become the most conscious identity you have.

These roles are addictions. They provide you with a feeling that you matter.

In writing out your adolescent history, focus on how your wounded inner child contaminated your adolescent life. Be sure to detail your traumas: the valentines that never came, the loneliness, the peer group pressure and rejections, the pain about your family.

Homecoming Meditation

  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing
  • As you breathe in, gently pull your lower stomach in, as you breathe out, push your stomach out
  • Breathe in to the count of four, hold for the count of four, and breathe out to the count of eight
  • Do this several times
  • Breathe in four, hold four, and breathe out to the count of sixteen
  • Then breathe in four, hold four, and breathe out to the count of thirty-two
  • Do that three times
  • Now resume normal breathing
  • Focus on the number 3 as you breathe out
  • See it, fingerpaint it, or hear “three” in your mind’s ear
  • Now the number 2
  • Now the number 1
  • Now see the one become a door
  • Now open the door and walk down a long winding hallway with doors on either side
  • On your left see a door that says Last Year
  • Open that door and look in, see a pleasant scene from last year
  • Close that door and walk to the next door on your right
  • Open that door and see your adolescent standing there
  • Embrace him, tell him you know what he’s been through, tell him it’s time to leave home, tell him that you are there to support him
  • Together with your adolescent, walk to the end of the corridor and open the door
  • Look in and see the earliest house you remember living in
  • Go into that house and find a room where your infant self resides
  • Have your adolescent pick up your infant
  • Now walk back into the corridor and open the first door on your left and see your toddler self
  • You take him by the hand and walk back into the corridor
  • Open the first door on your right and see your preschool self
  • Look at him, what is he wearing?
  • You take him by the hand and walk out of that room
  • Now find your school-age self, what is he wearing?
  • Ask him to take your adolescent’s hand and walk out of the house
  • Now you are standing next to your adolescent self, who is holding your infant
  • Your school-age self is holding on to your adolescent’s arm
  • You are holding your toddler’s and preschooler’s hands
  • Now, see your infant become your toddler
  • Now see your toddler become your preschooler
  • Now see your preschooler become your school-age self
  • Now see your school-age self become your adolescent self
  • You and your adolescent are standing side by side
  • Now see your parents come out of a house you lived in as an adolescent
  • You and your adolescent wave goodbye to them
  • Tell them all of you is leaving now
  • Tell them you know they did the best they could
  • See them as the wounded people they actually are (were)
  • Forgive them for abandoning you
  • Tell them you are going to parent yourself now
  • Start walking away from that house
  • Keep looking over your shoulder
  • See them getting smaller and smaller
  • Until they are completely out of sight
  • Look ahead of you and see a lover/spouse/friend waiting for you
  • If you have a therapist, see your therapist there
  • If you have a support group, see them there
  • If you have a higher power, see your higher power there
  • Embrace all of them
  • Know that you have support
  • That you are not alone
  • Know that you have or can create a new family of affiliation
  • Now let your adolescent become one with you
  • Pick an age from childhood and see the child within you at that age
  • Tell him that you will champion him
  • That you will be his new loving and nurturing parent
  • Tell him that you know better than anyone else what he has gone through, the hurts and pains he has suffered
  • Tell him that of all the people he will ever know, you are the only one he will never lose
  • Tell him you will take time for him and spend time with him each day
  • Tell him you love him with all your heart
  • Now look out on the horizon of your mind
  • See the number 3
  • Feel your toes
  • Wiggle them
  • See the number 2
  • Feel the energy come up through your legs into your upper body
  • Feel the energy in your arms
  • Wiggle your hands
  • Feel the energy going into your head and brain
  • Now see the number 1 and very slowly open your eyes and stretch


The process of reclaiming your wounded inner child is a forgiveness process. Forgiveness allows us to give as before. It heals the past and frees our energies for the present.

The harm that was done to you needs to be legitimized and validated. This helps us delegitimize our parents.

We see them for who they are: adult-children acting out their contaminations.

Only by demythologizing our parents can we grasp the real harm that was done to us. To grasp that real harm was done to us allows us to own our feelings about being violated. To feel the feelings is the original pain work. Once we’ve connected with and expressed those feelings, we are free to move on.

We no longer contaminate our present and our energy is now present to empower our lives.

Forgiveness allows us to leave our parents. Our frozen grief formed the deep resentments that kept us attached to them. Resentments cause us to recycle the same feelings over and over again.

We hate our parents so we don’t have to separate from them. Doing so, we avoid growing up.

Forgiveness solves this.

Once you have reclaimed your wounded inner child, you must make a decision about the relationships you will have with your parents today.

If your parents have remained offenders, stay away from them.

If they refuse to take responsibility for themselves, remember that your first priority is to take care of yourself, not them.

Part 3 Championing Your Wounded Inner Child


Now that you’ve reclaimed your wounded inner child, you need to champion him. As his champion, you will defend and fight vigilantly for him.

This comes down to becoming a new parent for yourself.

The new permissions and protection you need to give your inner child will form the core of your corrective experiences.

Reclaiming your inner child was the first part of the journey. The second part is to teach the inner child what he didn’t learn because his development was stopped as a result of the shame.

Corrective experience is a form of reeducation.

Chapter 9: Using Your Adult as a New Source of Potency

The three P’s of therapy are:

  • Potency
  • Permission
  • Protection

For you to champion your wounded inner child, he must trust you enough to disobey the parental rules by which he was raised.

This means allowing the child to be who he is and to disobey the shameful parental rules. These are strong and terrifying because disobeying them means abandonment.

Your inner child must believe you have enough power to go against your parents.

This is what Potency is.

It’s best to approach your inner child as the version of the adult you that would have been there in the most difficult moment of your childhood (Eg: a wise old wizard).

The following exercise will help you develop potency.

Potency List

List ten things you now own or are capable of doing that you could not own or do as a child.

Now close your eyes and tell your inner child about the things on your list. Watch him be happy to hear this.

Asking Forgiveness

Another way to build trust with your inner child is to ask for his forgiveness.

One way to do it is to write a letter apologizing for the things you did to him. Tell the child the truth and tell him you will never leave him again and that you will dedicate him time and attention.

Then use your non-writing hand to answer from the perspective of the child that you forgive the adult you.

Telling Your Child About Your Higher Power

Tell the child that you feel safe and protected by a higher power (if you have one).

Giving Yourself a New Childhood

Changing your own story works provided that you have done the original pain work. It’s based on the assumption that your brain does not recognize the difference between real images and imagined images.

Letting Your Adult Find New Fathers and Mothers For Your Inner Child

The key here is that it is the adult you who should find these new mothers and fathers, not the child. When your wounded inner child does the choosing, it sets you up to reexperience your earlier abandonment, which leads to disappointments.

Your inner child needs to know that childhood is over and that you can never go back and really have new parents.

You have to grieve the loss of your real childhood and your real parents. Your child needs to know that you as an adult will do the necessary reparenting.

Chapter 10: Giving Your Inner Child New Permissions

How do you nurture your inner child?

Our wounded inner child is childish. He was either overdisciplined or underdisciplined. We must become good nurturing disciplinarians if we want our wounded inner child to heal.

Your inner child has to learn new rules that will allow him to grow. He needs permission to bring his old parenting rules and to be his real self.

Nurturing Discipline

Of all the masks of freedom, discipline is the most impenetrable.

Without discipline, the inner child cannot be free.

Here is a set of nurturing rules for you to teach your wonderful inner child:

  1. It’s okay to feel what you feel. It’s good and it’s necessary to talk about feelings.
  2. It’s okay to want what you want and to ask for it. It’s necessary to get your needs met.
  3. It’s okay to see and hear what you see and hear. Whatever you saw and heard is what you saw and heard.
  4. It’s okay and it’s necessary to have lots of fun and play. It’s okay to enjoy sexual play.
  5. It’s essential to tell the truth at all times. Lying distorts reality. Beware of other forms of reality distortions such as black-or-white thinking, catastrophizing, universalizing, and mind-reading (when you say I think X doesn’t like me the truth is that your inner child doesn’t like that person).
  6. It’s important to know your limits and to delay gratification. Children want what they want when they want it. Part of growing up is…not doing that. But when a child has been neglected, it’s hard for him to delay gratification. To champion your inner child is to teach him to act rather than react.
  7. It’s crucial to develop a balanced sense of responsibility. Accept the consequences of what you do and refuse the consequences of what someone else does.
  8. It’s okay to make mistakes. Good way to teach your inner child a healthy sense of shame. If your inner child believes he must watch every word so that he never says the wrong thing, he may never say the right thing.
  9. Other people’s feelings, needs, and wants are to be respected and valued. Violating other people leads to guilt and to accepting the consequences. In the case of empowerment through indulgence and submission, the child believes that the standard rules for average people don’t apply to him: his “specialness” gives him permission to be above the rules.
  10. It’s okay to have problems and conflicts. They need to be resolved. You need to teach your inner child that conflict is inevitable.

Permission to Be You

Your inner child needs your unconditional permission to be himself.

One way to do that is to give him permission to give up his false self.

Step 1: get a clear picture of your family system: how did you come to matter as a child?

The roles are:

  • Hero
  • Star
  • Superachiever
  • Mom’s Little Man
  • Mom’s or Dad’s Surrogate Spouse
  • Dad’s Little Princess
  • Dad’s Buddy
  • Mom’s Sorority Sister
  • Mom’s or Dad’s Enabler or Caretaker
  • Mom’s Mom
  • Dad’s Dad
  • Peacemaker
  • Mediator
  • Family Sacrifice
  • Scapegoat or Rebel
  • Underachiever
  • Problem Child
  • Lost Child
  • Victim

Tell your inner child that whatever role he played, it never worked.

Step 2: let your inner child know that he has the right to feel sad, etc and that it’s ok. Protect him and tell him that it’s safe to do it. Be gentle and slow.

Step 3: do things that are completely contrary to your former role. Eg: if you were a Hero, don’t help. If you were a Star, don’t take all of the attention.

Step 4: help the inner child choose what parts of the roles he wants to keep.

Chapter 11 Protecting Your Wounded Inner Child

Children who are not loved in their very beingness do not know how to love themselves. As adults, they have to learn to nourish, to mother their own lost child.

Marion Woodman

The third P in therapy is Protection.

Your inner child’s trust will be built up over time. Pay attention to when he needs your attention.


  • When you are playing a game: your inner child may not like to lose.
  • When you are tired: your inner child may get whiney and annoying.
  • When you feel rejected: your inner child may become unreasonably sad.


Here’s how you communicate with him:

  • Write the dialogue. Ask your inner child how he is going and follow from there.
  • Visualization: visualize yourself communicating with him.

Always start by asking him how old he is followed by how he is feeling.

Finding a New Family

If your own family is not in recovery, they cannot support you, so you need to find your inner child a new family.

Often, your family thinks that what you do is stupid and they shame you for it as your newfound true self disturbs their habits and the family equilibrium.

Keep a safe distance and find a new, non-shaming supportive family.

  • A group of friends
  • A church group
  • A therapy group


The Power and Protection of Prayer

Your inner child needs to see that your adult has a source of protection beyond your finite human self, hence the need for a higher power.

Prayers are a good way to ensure your inner child that he is protected.

Chapter 12: Putting Corrective Exercises Into Practice

Once you have grieved the loss of your unmet developmental dependency needs, you can correct the deficits with new learning.

Doing corrective exercises helps your wounded inner child to understand that your defects are actually deficits.

The following exercises will correct your learning deficits from the past. More than anything, they will enhance your inner child’s ability to just be and to be more loving and intimate.

Work specifically on the stages where your inner child got stuck.

Exercises for Getting Your Infancy Needs Met

Infancy told us that we were not okay to “just be”, that we had to do something to matter. This led to a loss of identity. We now need to learn how to “just be” without doing anything.

Here’s a list of things you can do. Choose your favorite one.

  • Get into a hot tub and spend time focusing on your bodily sensations. Take time just being there.
  • Treat yourself to regular massages.
  • Let someone give you a manicure and fix your hair.
  • Go out to dinner with a friend.
  • Sit quietly wrapped up in a comforter or blanket. In winter, wrap up by a warm fire and roast marshmallows.
  • Spend lots of time in sensual touching with your lover.
  • Have your lover gently bathe you.
  • Give yourself a bubble bath or lounge in a tub of warm water and bath oils.
  • Block out periods of time for doing nothing; make no plans, have no commitments.
  • Spend thirty minutes to an hour floating in a swimming pool on a warm summer day.
  • Hang in a hammock for a long time.
  • Listen to soft lullaby music.
  • When you’re working, have liquids available for frequent sipping.
  • Suck on mints or Life Savers while you start a new job or when you start to do something for the first time.
  • Change your eating habits. Instead of “three squares,” eat a number of small nutritious meals throughout the day.
  • Have some special support persons (ideally of both sexes) who will hug you and hold you for clearly contracted periods of time.
  • Take as many naps as you can on days when you have plenty of time.
  • Get plenty of rest before doing anything new.
  • Practice “trust walks” with a friend. Have him blindfold you and lead you around for a contracted period of time.
  • Risk trusting a friend whom you have good feelings about. Let him make plans and control what you do together.
  • Get a partner and gaze at each other for nine minutes. Laugh, giggle, do whatever you need to do. Just hang in there; do not talk. Just look at each other.
  • Meditate on nothingness. When we meditate on nothingness, we meditate on being itself. Infancy is the time when we were grounded in the power of being. There are many approaches to meditating on pure being or nothingness. Such meditations aim at creating a state of mindlessness, sometimes referred to as creating “the silence. ” To learn to be mindless as an adult connects the inner child with the adult in a most profound way.

Exercises for Getting Your Toddler Needs Met

  • Visit a flea market or a large department store, exploring each item that captures your interest through sight and touch.
  • Dine at a cafeteria or restaurant offering a buffet. Select an assortment of various foods, experimenting with new flavors you’ve never tried before.
  • Shop at a grocery store for foods you typically wouldn’t eat with your hands, then go home and enjoy them hands-on, embracing any messiness.
  • Allocate time to chew or gnaw on something crunchy, savoring the texture.
  • Spend time in your grocery store’s produce aisle, inhaling the diverse scents of fruits and vegetables.
  • Explore a completely new location, immersing yourself in the details of the unfamiliar environment.
  • Visit a playground and blend in with the children’s activities: swing on the swings, slide down the slide, or climb the jungle gym.
  • Spend ample time at the beach, indulging in the sand and water, and constructing creative forms from the sand.
  • Procure some clay and engage in molding various shapes and structures, letting your imagination lead.
  • Dive into an afternoon of finger painting, utilizing a broad palette of colors for your artistic expression.
  • Visit a Montessori classroom and immerse yourself in the guided environment, engaging in activities that appeal to you.
  • Adorn yourself in the most vibrant-colored clothes available and venture out.
  • Create sounds using various household items, exploring the different tones and noises they produce, including kitchen utensils like pots, pans, and silverware.
  • Spend a day at an amusement park, soaking in the sights and enjoying numerous rides.
  • Stroll through a picturesque park or garden, experiencing a plethora of fragrances as you move from one scent to another.
  • Explore a fine arts museum, appreciating the vivid colors displayed in the artwork.
  • Invite a friend or lover for a lengthy walk, holding hands and allowing your senses to guide your exploration.
  • Practice Zen seeing in a park with a companion: alternate between guiding each other with eyes closed to various natural elements like leaves, tree trunks, or wildflowers. Use a hand squeeze as a signal to open the eyes, capturing the essence of the scene as if snapping a photo with a camera’s shutter.
  • Walk barefoot, indoors or through a field, consciously feeling the varying textures beneath you, such as grass, soil, fur, cardboard, newspapers, rugs, pillows, towels, wood, metal, tile, etc.
  • Engage in a silent conversation with your partner, communicating solely through gestures and touch.
  • Create a list of words that evoke sensory experiences, then vocalize each, paying attention to the sensations or images you associate with each term, like “bumpy,” “prickly,” “tingly,” “feathery,” “slippery,” “hard,” “soft,” “thin,” “fat,” “dark,” “bright,” etc.
  • Sharpen your visual perception by intently observing your surroundings, like capturing a snapshot of people at a bus stop, then later documenting the details of the scene in writing.
  • Sit contemplatively in front of a simple natural object, like a flower, tree, or apple. Merge your awareness with it, recognizing its unique qualities, and then draw what you see, letting your hand mimic the journey of your eyes.
  • Participate in a nonsensical gibberish dialogue with a friend, attempting to understand each other’s meanings through non-verbal cues and intonations.
  • Engage in a “mystery” sound game with a friend: either turn away or blindfold yourself while your friend generates sounds using various objects or actions, such as pouring water, drumming, tapping a pencil, or scratching their head. Afterward, switch roles.
  • Gather a group of individuals to sing collectively. Opt for open-ended songs like “I wish I were an apple on a tree,” encouraging everyone to contribute new verses. Enjoy listening to children’s songs together, with a preference for folk music.

Reconnecting with Desires

Perhaps the most important exercise in this section is to help your inner child reconnect with his desires.

Indeed, the most damaged part of the wounded inner child is his will.

The will is desire raised to the level of action.

And desires come from our needs. When you live in a dysfunctional family, you can’t pay attention to your needs because you’re busy dealing with the needs of other people.

To find out what your needs are, make a list of substitute behaviors and ask yourself what you are desiring when you behave in this way. These behaviors may be:

  • Telling lies
  • Eating when you’re not hungry
  • Reaching for a cigarette
  • Pouting
  • Insulting someone you care about

The desires usually are:

  • Wanting attention
  • Wanting to know that you matter
  • Wanting to express anger
  • Wanting to be with someone as a result of loneliness

Exercises for the Separation Stage of Toddlerhood

  • Say “no” and “I won’t”: This is scary if you’ve been punished and/or abandoned for saying it in the past. Practice first in private, then in semi-public, then in public.

Sometimes, rebels will have the other problem of saying no too much and not saying yes to something that they want. Then saying yes is what you should exercise!

Establishing Your Own Separate Domain

Understand that:

  • Your time belongs to you and you are entitled to share it or not with other people.
  • Your stuff belongs to you and other people cannot use it before asking you.
  • Your room belongs to you and nobody is entitled to enter it without asking first.

Pre-school Practice Exercises

Practice Asking Lots of Questions

When you are confused, write out what you are confused about (write why you feel happy and why you feel sad). Always give your inner child the permission to ask questions.

Practice Being Aware of Your Feelings

Your inner child has had his feelings so bound with toxic shame that to feel anything is to feel toxic shame.

Here’s how your inner child can feel and express his feelings:

  • For 21 days, spend 30 min a day noticing what you are feeling. To help your inner child, exaggerate the feelings (Eg: you are happy -> exaggerate up to dancing).

Confront Your Magical Expectations

When I’ll finally have X, I’ll be Y.

There’s no such thing.

Learn to Love Yourself as a Man

To feel like a man, our inner little boy needed to be loved by a man.

Many men weren’t close to their fathers and can hardly love themselves as a result.

Our wounded inner boy had no father to bond with, and, therefore he never broke the bond with his mother.

As a result, the boy in you either dates mothering women, or seeks to fix needy women.

You can correct this by finding men to share stuff with.

Learn to Love Yourself as a Woman

To love herself as a woman, your inner little girl needed to be loved by a woman.

The failure in mothering is largely due to the failure of marital intimacy. Women may then turn to their daughters and use them to fill their emptiness.

When a little girl does not have the healthy love of her mother, she grows up missing crucial aspects of her sexual identity. This is why so many women magically believe that they are adequate as women only if a man loves them.

Confront Your Toxic Guilt

Toxic guilt denies you the right to be your unique self. It enhances your spiritual wound.

There are two types of toxic guilt.

  1. When you live in a dysfunctional family, you are given a role and if you try to get rid of it to be your real self, the other family members will shame you.
  2. When your wounded inner child was angry at your parents and expressed it, he most likely was shamed for doing it.

Exercises for Your School-Age Inner Child

Children had two objectives when they entered school:

  1. The development of social skills.
  2. The development of economic skills.

Here are a bunch of exercises to catch up on these.

Make a Life Skills Inventory

List the skills you have then list the skills you do not have but that would make your life easier if you had them. Learn them.

Practice Values Clarification

This is how you build them:

  1. Your value must be chosen.
  2. There must be alternatives.
  3. You must know the consequences of your choice.
  4. Once chosen you prize and cherish it.
  5. You are willing to publicly proclaim it.
  6. You act on this value.
  7. You act on it consistently and repeatedly.

Make a list of your own 10 commandments and compare them to the list above.

Practice Setting Intellectual Boundaries

Teach your inner child the following:

I have the right to believe whatever it is that I believe. I need only take the consequences for my beliefs. All beliefs are partial. Each of us sees things from our own limited point of view.

Practice Negotiating

Your inner child wants what he wants right away. Your adult you must explain him that patience, cooperation, and compromise is how one eventually gets what he wants.

Exercise for Breaking Your Primary Parental Enmeshment

The exercise will last 30 minutes.

STEP ONE: The Enmeshed Parent

  • Close your eyes and focus your attention on memories of the parent you feel the most enmeshed with.
  • Really see, feel, or hear that person in your internal experience. Let them be present to you in their most attractive behavior. Your unconscious will know exactly what that behavior is… Trust the first thing that comes to your mind. If you cannot visualize your parent, just sense or pretend that he or she is there.

STEP TWO: Feeling the Enmeshment

  • See your wounded school-age inner child standing next to that parent
  • Notice what the child is wearing
  • Hear your child talking to the parent
  • Float into your inner child’s body and look out of his eyes at your parent
  • Look at your parent from different angles
  • Notice how your parent sounds, smells, etc.
  • Walk over and embrace your parent
  • What does it feel like to be in physical contact with that parent?
  • In what ways do you feel over-connected to your parent?
  • How do you experience yourself as being connected?
  • How do you experience that parent as attached to you?
  • Is it a physical attachment?
  • Is it an attachment to some part of your body? (Many people experience this connection in the groin, stomach, or chest area.)
  • Is there a cord or some other means of attachment between you?
  • Is there a rubber band around you?
  • Get a full experience of the quality of this connection.

STEP THREE: Temporarily Breaking the Enmeshment

  • Sever this connection for a moment
  • Just allow yourself to notice what it would be like
  • If you are attached by a cord, imagine cutting it with scissors
  • If you are attached to your parent’s body, imagine a laser beam of miraculous golden light that severs you and heals the wound simultaneously
  • You will feel discomfort separating at this point
  • This is a signal that this connection serves an important purpose in your life
  • Remember that you are not disconnecting
  • You are only experiencing what it feels like to separate temporarily

STEP FOUR: Discovering the Positive Purpose of the Enmeshment

  • Ask yourself, “What do I really get from this parent that satisfies my basic needs?” “What do I really want from that parent?”
  • Wait until you get an answer that touches you to the core, such as safety, security, protection from death, feeling that you matter, that you are lovable and worthwhile
  • Now reconnect the attachment to your parent

STEP FIVE: Using Your Adult Potency

  • Turn to the right or left
  • See yourself as a wise and gentle wizard (or as fully self-actualized as your most powerful self)
  • Become aware that this older you is capable of giving you what you want and believe you are getting from your enmeshed parental relationship
  • Really look at your resourceful adult self
  • Notice how this part of you looks, moves, and sounds
  • Go over and embrace your grown-up self
  • Feel the power and potency of your adult
  • Realize that the worst thing you’ve always feared has already happened to you
  • You were violated and abandoned by being enmeshed
  • Your adult part has made it
  • Your adult has survived and functioned in spite of it

STEP SIX: Transforming the Connection with Your Parent into a Connection with Yourself

  • Turn again to your enmeshed parent
  • See and feel the connection
  • Sever the connection
  • Immediately reconnect with your adult self in the same way you were connected to your parent
  • Enjoy feeling interdependent with someone you can completely count on: yourself
  • Thank your adult for being there for you
  • Enjoy receiving from your adult what you wanted from your parent
  • Your adult is the person that you can never lose

STEP SEVEN: Respecting Your Enmeshed Parent

  • Look at your enmeshed parent
  • Notice that he has a choice
  • He can reconnect the cord to his adult self
  • Remember that your parent has the same options for reclaiming wholeness that you have
  • In fact, notice that your enmeshed parent has no chance for true wholeness if he stays attached to you
  • You are loving him by giving him a chance for wholeness
  • Also notice that you now have an opportunity for a true relationship with him for the very first time

STEP EIGHT: Relationship with Self

  • Float back into your adult self
  • Feel the interconnection with your wounded inner school-age child
  • Realize that you can now love and cherish this child
  • Give him what he needed from his parent

Finishing Your Myth or Fairy Tale

Finish the myth or fairy tale you wrote when you were working on reclaiming your school-age child.

Part 4: Regeneration

As you allow your child to become an integral part of your life dialoguing with him, listening to him, setting boundaries for him, letting him know that you will never leave him-a new power and creativity begin to emerge.

When you recover the wounded inner child, you recover his spiritual power which allows you to begin your self-creation – your homecoming.

Chapter 13: The Child as a Universal Symbol of Regeneration and Transformation

The inner child can be both a source of divinity and construction or a source of destruction.

That depends if he is wounded or not. Every archetype has two poles: positive, and negative.

The motherNurtures, gives lifeDevours, destroys.
The fatherProtects, transmitsTyranny, who, for fear of losing his power, keep his children in bondage.
ChildVulnerable, child-like, spontaneous, creativeChildish, selfish, refuses to grow up

The Puer Aeternus

In every culture, the world suffers a cycle of chaos and creation. At creation, a tree grows and a child appears, reconciling all opposites. There is an abundance of everything and nobody has to work.

Let’s discuss the creative and regenerative aspects of the child.

The Wonder Child as Authentic Self

In your wonder child you will find your authentic feelings, needs, and wants.

People who remain young are the people in touch with their inner child, the people who keep on evolving through life rather than being stuck in their shells.

As you champion your wounded child, he comes to trust you and your nourishing protection; he knows you will not abandon him.

The sense of safety and trust enables the wonder child to emerge. You become yourself without any effort.

In divorcing salvation from achievement, the Christian had established the priority of being over doing.

Most of us become human doing to heal our wounds instead of being human beings. You won’t heal by doing.

Transpersonal psychologists make a distinction between the essential self (the soul, the wonder child) and the adapted self (the ego, the wounded inner child).

The ego is the limited sphere of consciousness you use in order to adapt to the demands of your family and culture -> it’s always inauthentic compared to your soul.

You still need to integrate the ego. Once it’s done, it gives you a sense of confidence and strength so you can explore your wonder child.

Paradoxically, your ego needs to be strong enough to let go of its defensiveness and control – a strong ego transcends the ego.

The relationship between your wonder child (soul) and your wounded child (ego) must be healed before you can connect with your essential self.

Once you have done the ego work (which is the pain work detailed above), you’re ready for full self-actualization.

Once you feel the connection with your wonder child, you begin to see your whole life from a larger perspective.

Meditation for Reframing Your Life With Your Wonder Child

In order for this meditation to work, (make the effort to) believe that:

  • Your wonder child had a sense of destiny before you were born.
  • You are an incarnate spirit.
  • You are more than your time-bound sociocultural personality.
  • You have an eternal divine inheritance.
  • You are a unique expression of God-The Great I AM.
  • The universe would be impoverished if you had not been born.
  • There is something of God that can be expressed only by you and that can be experienced by others only through you.
  • Your wonder child has known all of this all along.

In this meditation, you will make contact with your wonder child and experience your divine inheritance-the purpose of your incarnation.

  • Focus on your breathing
  • Slowly observe your own process of breathing
  • Become mindful of your breathing
  • Be aware of the feeling of the air as you breathe in and out
  • See the number five as you breathe out
  • Visualize a black number five on a white curtain or a white number five on a black curtain
  • If you have trouble visualizing, imagine yourself finger painting the number five or hear it in your mind’s ear
  • Do all three if possible: see it, finger paint it, and hear it
  • Repeat the process for the numbers four, three, two, and one
  • Imagine the number one as a door
  • Before walking through the door, put all your troubles and worries into a crystal ball
  • Bury the ball filled with worries, knowing you can have them back after the meditation
  • Walk through the door and see a set of three steps leading to another door
  • Put your disbeliefs and skepticism into a crystal ball
  • Bury the ball filled with your disbeliefs and skepticism
  • Review your new belief system
    • You are a unique and unrepeatable manifestation of the divine.
    • You have a destiny that only you can express through your being.
    • It is not dramatic or melodramatic.
    • It is simply the difference your being here makes. It is a difference that makes a difference.
    • Your wonder child has always known what it is.
    • Your wonder child can lead you to discover your life purpose.
  • Walk up the stairs and open the door
  • Find a porch with stairs leading up into the heavens
  • Begin to see a figure surrounded in blue-white light coming down the stairs
  • As the figure comes closer, experience it as a warm and friendly being
  • Whatever form it takes is okay as long as it feels warm and friendly to you
  • If the figure frightens you, tell it to go away and wait for another figure to come
  • This being is your inner guide
  • Ask its name.
  • Tell your inner guide you want to speak to your wonder child
  • Let your inner guide take you by the hand and begin ascending the stairs
  • You will come to a large temple
  • Your guide will lead you to the door
  • Walk in and see objects of exquisite beauty
  • Walk toward a high altar with a statue of a beautiful and precious child – your wonder child
  • See the figure come alive
  • Embrace your wonder child
  • Ask him or her for a statement of your life’s purpose: “Why am I here?”
  • Take the answer in whatever form it comes – a symbol, actual words, a strong feeling
  • Talk to your wonder child about it
  • Even if you do not understand, take with you what you’ve been given
  • Thank your wonder child and walk back to the door
  • Your inner guide is waiting for you
  • Let your guide take you down the stairs
  • When you reach the porch, pause
  • Review your whole life from birth until the present in the light of your new understanding
  • Even if your wonder child’s message was not clear, review your life with what you do understand about your life’s purpose
  • Go back to the moment of your birth and review every milestone or event you can remember, viewing it in the light of your new knowledge
  • See the people who were there
  • Do you see them any differently now?
  • You may see someone whom you thought was insignificant as much more significant now
  • Certain events may take on a new meaning
  • Can you find a new meaning in the traumatic events you have endured?
  • Come to the present moment of your life
  • Accept your whole life as perfect from your soul’s point of view
  • Now that you’ve done your original pain and ego work, you can see from this higher vantage point
  • Accept the past as perfect
  • Commit yourself to your purpose
  • Send love to all you know
  • Realize that we are all children struggling for the light
  • See your parents as wounded children
  • See warm golden sunlight surrounding everyone
  • Imagine yourself touching and embracing the people in your life
  • Think of everyone as a child in need of friendship and love
  • Now go back to the porch with stairs leading to the temple
  • Open the door and walk down the three stairs
  • Take back any beliefs, skepticism, and presuppositions you want
  • Walk through the next door
  • Take back any worries or anxieties you want
  • Take three deep breaths
  • Feel the life coming back into your feet and toes as you see the number one
  • Feel the seat you’re sitting in and your clothes on your body as you see the number two
  • Feel the energy in your hands, letting it come up through your arms into your neck and shoulders
  • Now see the number three
  • Feel your whole brain wide awake
  • Breathe in deeply
  • Tell yourself you’ll remember this experience
  • Tell yourself you will stay with the images even if you don’t fully understand them
  • Now see the number four
  • Feel yourself fully awake as you see the number five

The Nonidealization of the Wonder Child

The wonder child isn’t the only model for an authentic life. You should be in touch with him, not be him.

Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible arise within him. In this lies the dignity of daring.

Karlfried Graf Von Durkheim

The wonder child is what is indestructible.

Chapter 14: The Wonder Child as Imago Dei

Whatever your personal religious beliefs, you cannot be in touch with your wonder child and not have a sense of something greater than yourself.

The Wonder Child as Creative Regeneration

The following traits of character are necessary for creativity:

  • Playfulness
  • Spontaneity
  • Ability to live in the now
  • Ability to experience wonder
  • Ability to concentrate
  • The capacity to be one’s own locus of evaluation.

You can get in touch with these powers by making the myths about the wonder child yours (Jesus, Sargon, Moses, Abraham, Oedipus, Paris, Krishna, etc).

Energetic Emergence

Sometimes, your wonder child will try to talk to you through energetic emergence which can be embodied in a dream or body sensations (including pain).

Traumatic Events and Emotional Pain

Traumatic events can be the catalyst for creative change or the cause of self-destruction.

It depends on your courage to embrace the unresolved pain you repressed at the time the trauma happened and the meaning you chose to give it.

Telling Our Stories

The author explains how both Jung and himself went back to childhood memories to discover who they were and what they liked.

Jung began to play with the building blocks he played with as a child; Bradshaw built a model airplane he never could finish as a kid.

You can discover what your wonder child wants by paying attention to:

  • Dreams
  • What you are fascinated with
  • Intuition and hunches
  • Persistent impulse
  • The new people who come into your life and who seem to call you in new directions.

For more summaries, head to

Did you enjoy the summary? Get the book here!

Want more?

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and I'll send you a list of the articles I wrote during the previous month + insights from the books I am reading + a short bullet list of savvy facts that will expand your mind. I keep the whole thing under three minutes. 

How does that sound? 

Leave a Reply