Home > abandonment, Outer Child > Keeping Your Outer Child In Line During the Holidays

Keeping Your Outer Child In Line During the Holidays

I don’t know about you, but my outer child has been really acting up lately – and I think it’s the holidays. For me, the issue is, as usual, food.

All year long I remain on an eating plan designed to keep me slender and fit, but during the holidays, Outer Child rises up within me and has a plan of its own: to chow down.

On Thanksgiving, My outer child not only wanted to binge on turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy – but also insisted on consuming lots of pie. Our course, Outer wasn’t straight forward about its motivation: Outer rationalized that eating all of the pies was a way of honoring all of the family members who made them – it had nothing to do with gluttony.

Not all of our outer children are con artists about food. A lot of people write in to me about their Outers going on other types of rampages. Its mission: self-sabotage.

A popular Outer Child event during this time is over-shopping. We’re in the malls anyway, inundated with well-marketed items all designed to compete for Outer’s attention. It’s a challenge to keep Outer in line. Many of us just give into this inner demon and buy far more than we can reasonably afford – to hell with the consequences.

Outer developed within our personalities during pre-adolescence (and continues to gain strength over time). Outer acts out the anger, need-deprivation, hurt, lust and impulses of our inner child. Inner child is the feeling-part of the personality – the innocent child-part. Outer is the BEHAVIOR – the acting out part of the personality. Outer is the part that shows on the outside – it contains all of the warts and bulges – the part that breaks our diet, goes into crushing debt, and is attracted to all the wrong people.

What to do to keep Outer in line?

Since Outer is so good at rationalizing and changing disguises, I advise against trying to deal with Outer directly. To tame Outer, it is necessary to work behind the scenes. This work is about helping your adult self to get stronger – and this can only happen when you learn to deal with your feelings.

When there is a strong coalition between your adult self and your inner child (between your conscious mind and your feelings), Outer loses its power.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there is an exercise that accomplishes this coalition – the Big/Little dialogue. I have written and spoken about it at length. I have given workshops all over the country to teach people experientially how to do this exercise.

Why am I so committed? If you do the exercise 3 times per week for 3 months, your life changes. It is no longer your outer child calling the shots, but your ever-stronger, ever-wiser, and ever more self-compassionate ADULT self guiding your behavior. Your adult, fueled with self-nurturance and self-respect, steadily guides you in the direction of accomplishing your goals – in the direction of real fulfillment (not the quick fix supplied to food, shopping, sex or romance with the wrong partner. or other immediate gratifications)

In case you’re wondering, why would a relationship specialist write about food and shopping? Because these things are related to fulfillment – and fulfillment is often related to need to fill a void– and this void is often related to self neglect – and this self-neglect is often related to self-abandonment – and self-abandonment is often related to the quality of our relationships (past and present).

The Big Little exercise helps to heal these relationships – you learn to heal from the inside out – so that Outer has no room to sprout new behaviors of self-sabotage.

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