My-12-year-Self and I


Today was one of those days; an emotional roller coaster kind of day. Yes, coaches have those days too and yes, I still beat myself up about it.

I’m human you see. And truth be told, I’m a wee bit arrogant (I can’t help it I’m an Aries) and this lead to buying into my own story.

After years of education and training, personal development work, numerous courses, programs, CDs, books and thousands of dollars, I really believed. . .

wait for it. . .

that my life should be handled by now.  The roller coaster should have morphed into a journey of smooth sailing.

Did you catch the two “shoulds”?

If I was coaching myself I’d have to kick my own butt now because it’s totally common knowledge that “shoulding” on yourself is undesirable behaviour.

But I digress. . .

Even though I had a happy childhood, I still have parts of myself that are healing (normal life stuff, nothing traumatic).  In fact, I recently reconnected with a very specific part: my-12-year-self.  A part who has longed for attention, acknowledgement and appreciation for a very long time.

If I tell you she shows up a lot in my relationships would you be surprised?  I thought not.

This is a photo of me around 12 years old (forgive the blurry photo; this was the 70’s – remember film?).

I had begged my mom to let me play baseball that year.  She was worried I’d get hurt (I was the “smart one” not the “athletic one”) but I must have pleaded long enough that she gave in.  Two or three games into the season I broke two fingers and that was the end of that.

So, just for a moment imagine my-12-year-self (insert your version here) longing for attention, acknowledgement and appreciation (insert your own needs here).

This incident caused the following:

  • I got the wrong kind of attention (concern and worry)
  • I was acknowledged for being a klutz, and
  • Appreciation was non-existent from my team mates.

What’s a 12-year-self to do?

Suppress it.  Rationalize (I’m still the smart one) and I don’t really need it/you anyway!  What was already well defined independance became a formula that would serve me to this day.

My point here?

We all have these parts, seemingly suppressed, but still managing to hi-jack the smooth sailing of life, turning it into a funhouse of emotions.  What an image – but isn’t it kind of like that some days?

Fast forward back to today.  I’m no longer that 12-year-self; I’m a professional woman, I look like I’ve got it all together and yet…something happens and I’m right back in the emotion of that failure, but thinking it has something to do with what’s happening in the present.

News flash:  It’s never the “thing” going on in the present.

When there’s an emotional upset we’re pretty much hard-wired to the past, an imcompletion or a wound that’s wanting to be healed.  Sigh.

So there we are with all our parts, and here’s where the story starts to feel good again.  Those parts, as hurt and long-suffering as they may be (like my-12-year-self), all want something positive for us – they just don’t know how to get our attention any other way and like a youngster, they act up!

This might look like: drama, limiting beliefs, negative behaviour and lots of negative chatter.  Familiar stuff right, but what do we do about it?

Here’s our access:

Close your eyes.  Get in touch with that part of you and notice where you feel it in your body.  Now as if you could, ask it what it wants for you.

Sounds crazy I know; trust me and ask anyway.  As woowoo as this may seem, I’ve never had a client not hear a response and I can say the same for myself.

Me:  What do you want for me that’s positive?

My-12-year-self: Is it so wrong to want attention, appreciation and acknowledgement?

Me:  No, but that’s not what I asked.  What do you want for me that’s positive?

My-12-year-self: It doesn’t feel safe to say it; people might get upset.

Me:  Go ahead and say it anyway.  You’re safe with me.

My-12-year-self: I want to feel loved.  OMG, this is so embarrassing. Everybody knows I’m strong and smart.  I can’t believe I just said that.

Me:  You want to feel loved.  Thanks for sharing that.  How would you know you were loved?

My-12-year-self: Hmm, never thought of that.  I think my brain would feel peaceful – how weird.  Like maybe all that chatter in there would get quiet. That would be awesome.  I like when it’s quiet.

Me:  What are some ways you/we could do that now?

My-12-year-self: I like how it feels when I day dream…

As I began to let myself feel the hurt and emotion of my-12-year-self, I could see that all she ever wanted was to feel loved and that had to start with loving herself. In spite of the fact that she couldn’t play baseball and loved books more than sports, she was amazing.  Especially when she allowed her mind to wander and dream of the future.

I suddenly felt such compassion, and the upset that happened earlier in the day began to fade away as I realized the solution or rather the healing, was over here with me.  It had nothing to do with the incident.  There was nothing external that had to happen for me to feel better.

It was an opportunity and I could reach out with those 12 year old hands, broken fingers and all, and give myself what I needed and wanted all along:

  • Attention:  I love when my drama queen stirs things up
  • Acknowledgement:  I am so creative; maybe I’ll be a writer some day
  • Appreciation:  I love that I’m smart and a keener and love learning!

And now, my 12 year old self is out buying everyone ice cream to celebrate!