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Reclaiming the Magic: Reparenting Your Inner Child at Christmas

Unearthing the Reasons Behind Christmas-Induced Emotional Turmoil as an Adult

Christmas, a joyous and festive season celebrated worldwide, often evokes feelings of warmth, love, and nostalgia. However, for some adults, this time of year can unexpectedly resurface dormant inner child pain. The reasons behind this phenomenon are multifaceted and deeply rooted in psychological and emotional experiences from childhood. In my holiday novel, The Christmas Promise, main character, Charlotte Moore faces the child in her during a very unexpected work trip and during the holidays.

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A very touching scene captures the lessons that she learns about her past and the little girl in her screaming for her to pick up that paint brush again. Her grandmother, Helen, says,

"Life can make our own lens too cloudy to see ourselves as clearly as a child sees us. And the magic happens when we see ourselves as they do." - The Christmas Promise

The Christmas Promise Lindsay Gibson

Why the holidays Trigger Your Inner Child?

1. Emotional Triggers: The holiday season, with its traditions and rituals, acts as a powerful emotional trigger, evoking memories and emotions from our childhood. As adults, we may find ourselves longing for the innocence, wonder, and joy we experienced during Christmas as children. This longing can bring forth a sense of loss, highlighting the stark contrast between the present reality and the idealized memories of our past.

2. Unmet Expectations: Christmas often carries high expectations, fueled by societal and media influences. These expectations can include the perfect family gathering, harmonious relationships, and the exchange of thoughtful gifts. However, for individuals who experienced childhood trauma or dysfunctional family dynamics, these expectations may remain unfulfilled. The discrepancy between the idealized Christmas portrayed in media and the reality experienced by some adults can lead to disappointment, sadness, and a resurgence of inner child pain.

3. Grief and Loss: For those who have experienced the loss of a loved one during their childhood, Christmas can serve as a poignant reminder of their absence. The festive season amplifies feelings of grief, triggering memories of shared traditions and joyful moments. The absence of a significant person during this time can reignite feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and longing for the comforting presence of a loved one.

4. Revisiting Traumatic Memories: Childhood trauma, such as neglect, abuse, or witnessing conflict, can leave lasting emotional scars. The holiday season, with its emphasis on family togetherness, can inadvertently bring these painful memories to the forefront of one's mind. The sights, sounds, and smells associated with Christmas may act as powerful triggers, causing individuals to relive traumatic experiences and reawakening the associated pain.

5. Financial Stress: Christmas is often associated with gift-giving and material abundance. However, financial constraints can hinder one's ability to meet these expectations, leading to feelings of inadequacy and guilt. For individuals who grew up in economically disadvantaged households, the inability to provide lavish gifts or recreate the magical experiences they witnessed as children can be distressing. This financial stress can rekindle feelings of unworthiness and shame, reminiscent of the inner child pain experienced during childhood.

Lindsay Gibson Blog Reparenting Your Inner Child

Reparenting Your Inner Child

The resurgence of inner child pain during this season is a complex interplay of emotional triggers, unmet expectations, grief and loss, revisiting traumatic memories, and financial stress. Understanding these underlying causes can help individuals navigate their emotions more effectively, seek support when needed, and find healing and solace during this potentially challenging time. For Charlotte, reconnecting with her true love: painting. . .brought healing to her inner child. For me, facing the young writer in me who always had big beautiful dreams brought me deeper joy and healing.

These triggers, emotions and memories are often your younger self acting out to protect you from feeling more pain. While none of us want to feel pain, we must recognize the difference between present and past, and the severity of the current situation that deserves our attention versus a triggered response from an old wound, belief, or fear.

Remember, our emotional addiction to pain or negative feelings often began when we were young, after going through difficult experiences that left us feeling unsure, afraid, insecure, or lost. And although we may not like those feelings, they became part of our patterning that we go to in similar times of fear. To break the cycle and begin the practice of reparenting our inner child, we must learn to identify our younger self, hold compassion, validation, and encouragement in order to begin to re-parent the parts of us that still hurt. The more we do, we release the need to stay stuck in old patterns that are bringing us down. The parts of you that still hurt need to feel safe and worthy in order to express oneself, to try new things, and to feel seen. As the parent now, that is your job.

One way to start this process is to find a picture of your younger self and use the photo as a reflective exercise. Practice looking at this person not as self, but as an observer from your adult self and see if you can find compassion, love, and admiration for your inner child or young person. Remind your inner child who they are by recognizing their talents, their personality, their beauty, and any small thing you see that would help your inner child feel seen. Connecting in this way on a regular basis will begin to form a relationship between your two parts, helping to differentiate, while still holding close, your younger self who needs your attention.

Emotional Regulation Exercise

I do this often! Even during writers block.

What you will need: A tennis ball, stress ball, or some other nonfragile object of comparable size.

Duration: 1 to 2 minutes

  1. Stand up and feel your feet on the ground, or sit and feel your seat on the chair, bench, or floor. Hold the ball in your hands. Check in with yourself and notice any thoughts, feelings, or sensations you might be experiencing. Don’t change anything — just notice it. (skip this step if anxiety is high as this can be more activating!)

  1. Pass the ball from hand to hand, even a small toss helps! You want it to be challenging enough to require some focus but not so challenging that there is a risk of dropping the ball with each toss; you don’t want to add any additional frustration to the mix.

  1. After a minute or two, pause. Check in again and notice any changes in your system. Has your breathing, posture, or any tension in your body shifted? What about how you feel emotionally? Are you more grounded? What is the speed of your thoughts? Notice what shifts you were able to create with this small, simple movement.

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