The Adapted Child VS The Natural Child
In several recent articles, I have mentioned a psychological system called Transactional Analysis. This is the diagnostic system developed by Eric Berne, author of the once famous book Games People Play. The system is also discussed in Thomas Harris’s book I’M OK, YOU’RE OK and Born to WIN by Jones and Jongeward. What made Berne’s system so revolutionary was that it gave people a way to observe and understand their own behaviors. It moved us away from the more Freudian approaches to mental health that tended to cause people to define themselves as “Depressed,” “Anxious,” “Obsessive-Compulsive” etc. Once people begin to see themselves in these terms, they tend to lose their identity in their problems. Rather than seeing themselves as who they really are with the capacity to possibly solve their problems and live a better life, these diagnostic terms like “Depressed” tend to cause people to think of themselves in more limited and less healthy terms.
Transactional Analysis (commonly referred to as TA) allowed people to observe themselves in terms of the various aspects of their personality. In TA, each person has three distinct ego states or ways of expressing themselves. These are known as the Parent, Adult and Child. The Parent aspect is the part of the personality that absorbed messages from one’s parents. Some of these messages are nurturing and supportive while others might be more critical. The second aspect is called the Adult. This is the conscious, aware Observer in the personality that can sit in the audience of life without getting involved in life’s dramas. In eastern terms, this aspect is known as the Witness or the Presence in the personality. The Adult is essential for any personal transformation to take place. In fact, personal transformation is a process of moving energy from automated survival patterns of the past into the conscious aware Adult aspect that can live in the present moment.
The final aspect is called the Child. This is the emotional aspect of the personality. Within the Child ego state there are two possible expressions. The first is called the Natural Child. This is the aspect of the personality that experiences life in the “now.” The Natural Child experiences all natural human emotion such as anger, fear, hurt, sadness, joy, enthusiasm, excitement, sexual feelings and so much more.
The key to understanding the Natural Child is that this aspect does not carry a history but rather lives in the present and looks toward the future. The Natural Child is the one in each of us with the capacity to enjoy life to the fullest. It is the aspect of us that can have fun and laugh and be uplifted and inspired by others and by life itself. The Natural Child experiences the natural sorrow of losing a loved one or losing a job or something that you hold dear. It is the one who grieves when loss occurs. This is the aspect of the personality that is naturally angered by injustice or seeing people hurt one another. This is the part of us that feels natural hurt when we are slighted or mistreated. This is the one in us who can feel natural fear when our lives are threatened in some way.
The Natural Child develops as a result of parents providing their children with love and support. Every child requires a critical level of love and support in order to survive. If that level of support is provided, the Natural Child aspect develops on its own. The Natural Child feels “Wanted” and expects to be well received by life. Again, the Natural Child is by its nature spontaneous, meaning that its reactions are not based on past experiences of hurt or harm or fear or anger. It just feels what it feels moment to moment. All healthy personalities must have an active Natural Child aspect.
On the other hand, we have the Adapted Child. This aspect of the personality develops when a child does not receive the kind of love and support that is required for natural development and must develop a system for survival within the family. The Adapted Child aspect develops in families where parents are, for whatever reasons, unable to provide the necessary kinds of love and support to cause a child to feel safe. The Adapted Child’s underlying emotion is always fear. The behaviors are always driven by fear of survival.
Adapted Child behaviors fall into two categories. The first is called Good and Sweet. This is the child who tries to figure out who and what other people want him or her to be, and develops behaviors that will please other people. The second expression is called the Rebellious Child. This is the aspect that is reactive in nature and works at not doing things that will please other people. Often the Rebellious Child falsely experiences itself as free or independent. However, in reality it is just as reactive as the Good and Sweet Child who is trying to please other people. The Rebellious Child is just trying to NOT please other people.
In both expressions, the Adapted Child is reacting to something that happened in the past. It is not living in the present. And, again, the primary emotion driving this aspect is fear. So the Adapted Child is the one who lives in the past, trying to get away from the fear that is driving the system. Unfortunately, the Adapted Child is never successful at resolving that fear and instead ends up in repetitive behavior patterns that take him or her around in the same loops without ever breaking out of the past.
Adapted Child behavior consumes a huge amount of life force and vitality without taking the person forward in life. If you are stuck in repetitive patterns it is this Adapted Child aspect of the personality that is stuck, and what is keeping it stuck is fear of not getting what it needs to survive. What make this fear so potent is that it develops when children are very young and do not have the ability to care for themselves and are not getting what they need. Ironically, once you are a grown up, you are not helpless to get your needs met in the same way that we are as children. But, the Adapted Child is exclusive from the Adult aspect where this information exists. In other words, the Adapted Child still feels the helplessness of a younger person even though he or she is in a grown-up body.
The I Ching Systems technology has to take all this information into account. In order to return a system to balance, energy must be moved out of the Adapted Child aspect and into the Adult and Natural Child aspects. So next time you feel out of balance and caught in an old pattern, try using your I Ching Systems instrument and see how you feel. Remember that a healthy person has a strong Adult Observer and a strong Natural Child.
If you have any questions or comments, please email me at email@example.com. To order any ICS products, go to www.ichingsystemsmembers.com .
Disclaimer: These Instruments are for experimental purposes only, and the FDA has not approved/evaluated these tools, resources, recommendations, and/or aids. All products, procedures, and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, prevent, and/or cure any disease. None of the products, procedures, and information replaces or substitutes for the advice of a practicing medical doctor. See a qualified practicing MD for any disease or medical condition.
Remember to always consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before embarking on any treatment, it’s your health and it’s IMPORTANT. Disclaimer
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