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Anwar Mammoth
Anwar Mammoth

Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabota...

Lest you think that I'm giving a name to this part of your personality in order to let us all off the hook for bad behavior, think again! Being able to identify and recognize your Outer Child is an important step toward taming it. I have found with my work in private practice with clients and with countless workshop attendees that being able to separate the personality in this way is the first important step toward controlling your actions and your own emotional destiny.

Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabota...

For now, I want to reassure you that you can redress and redirect your Outer Child's subterfuge; it doesn't have to hold you back any longer. Whether Outer Child has been preventing you from sticking to a diet, curbing your spending, overcoming performance anxiety, ending procrastination, improving a relationship, becoming a better parent, or reaching your potential, you can finally create the change you've always dreamed of.

But how about what, unconventionally, might be referred to as your outer child, or child without? These are designations meant to describe the segment of self that in the here-and-now can "act out"--rashly and illogically--past needs and desires. Or powerful feelings that earlier never could be expressed (not to mention, resolved). In fact, all "acting out" behaviors are contrived to reduce current-day tensions or anxieties through giving unmonitored vent to thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs.

Unfortunately, however, such a potentially healthy release is at the questionable discretion of your outer child. And this is the impulsive, careless, uncensored part of you that's apt to express itself with little or no regard for possible consequences. So when your outer child heedlessly manifests itself, it can do so in ways that get you into all sorts of trouble, and engender a variety of thorny problems. Problems that serve only to make matters worse and increase your frustrations. After all, it's the most undiscriminating, undisciplined part of you: unruly, demanding, self-indulgent, and unrestrained.

Under its rebellious influence, you're at serious risk of giving in to immediately gratifying addictions; going into mindless rages (possibly directed toward those you care about most); delaying--and even abandoning--projects that require your self-discipline and perseverance; and so on, and so on. At such times, your impetuous child part literally takes over your adult self and acts on its own volition, pre-empting or overriding how you, the adult, would prefer to behave. Even when you know very well what's in your best interests, if you remain oblivious to this outer child it can emerge out of nowhere and become your saboteur, willfully submerging your interests to its own.

Earlier, I published a two-part post entitled, "Feeling Good--Vs. Feeling Good About Ourselves," which suggested that when we act, self-indulgently, to feel better in the moment, ultimately we feel not better but worse about ourselves. And the problem with unwittingly allowing your outer child to triumph over your better judgment is that for the sake of immediate gratification you'll end up sacrificing what's actually much more satisfying and meaningful to you.

Needless to say, it's crucial that your child--or emotional--self be governed (though not squelched) by your more rational adult self. For when feelings and impulses are permitted to play the lead role in your life drama, you risk making decisions that are poorly considered--or hardly considered at all. And such imprudence is likely to compromise your welfare, undermine your key relationships, and eventually compromise your self-regard. Your "inner child" needs to be heard and attended to--and this is actually what self-nurturing is all about (see, incidentally, an older post of mine on this topic). On the contrary, however, your "outer child" needs to be regulated, controlled, and subdued. For as already suggested, permitting your impulses free reign is apt to lead to repercussions you're likely to regret later. Repercussions that in your acting (or reacting) too hastily, you simply couldn't recognize--much less evaluate.

And speaking of "brattish," the final book on one's outer child that I'll mention is by Pauline Wallin and actually goes by the title, Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-Defeating Behavior (2004). Similar to Anderson, Wallin explores the early childhood roots of this so-called brattish self. But she also looks at the social and cultural conditions in the U.S. that provide the breeding grounds for such reprehensible self-centeredness, willfulness, and feelings of entitlement. Having its own emphasis, yet overlapping with Anderson's thesis and characterizations, this work unfavorably views your "inner brat" as pouting, sulking, antagonistic, ill-tempered, and blaming others whenever it's not getting its way.

Whether you prefer to see this aspect of yourself as your "outer child" or "inner brat," Wallin and Anderson both go to substantial lengths in describing how best to "tame" it. I'd therefore recommend that anyone who relates only too easily to their many characterizations take the opportunity to investigate their work further.

NOTE: To provide a broader context for understanding this 5-part post on the "logical illogic" of the psycho-logical, I should note that Part 1 concentrated on the logical illogic of dreams, whereas Part 2 focused on the curiously intriguing logic behind self-sabotage. Part 3 then delved into the actual "programming" of such self-defeating behavior; and the present part has explained self-sabotage as an expression of your "outer child." Finally, the concluding section--Part 5--will address self-sabotage as it reflects ("logically" enough) acts of passive-aggression toward the self.

Susan Anderson has devoted more than 30 years of clinical experience and research to helping people overcome abandonment trauma and its aftermath of self sabotaging patterns. Founder of the abandonment recovery movement, she reaches out through her websites, workshops, and media to share her methods of abandonment recovery with abandonment survivors from around the world. Anderson is author of four trailblazing books including Journey from Abandonment to Healing and Taming Your Outer Child which guide people through a protocol specific to healing abandonment, heartbreak, and loss. People can contribute to Susan's ongoing research project by submitting (confidentially) your personal stories to her website -your-personal-abandonment-story. The websites and reach out with help and information. 041b061a72


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