Clients come to see me for many reasons but more often than not it boils down to the damage they have done to their most important relationship. That relationship is the one with themselves.
I don't say that to them until a few sessions have passed and I have enough evidence to show that the relationship is damaged. It's a little abstract and silly to some and so it's not one of my first questions but it will come.
"How is your relationship with you?"
In my current practice, I work with adults only. At this stage in life, they have developed a part of them that parents (guides, protects, motivates and reprimands their inner child).
If you've rolled your eyes at the words "inner child" then you can call it by a different name such as "ego, mind, soul, spirit, subconscious, character, individuality, self, spirituality, essential nature, inner self, true being."
Often they see that inner child as the problem. The part of them that is out of control and needs to be suppressed. In fact it often has. And it often got a lot of negative consequences for being so true and free. Living a life where the inner child or the protective parent run the entire show can lead to a lack of well being. As in anything I promote, balance is the name of the game.
If you just do what you feel or if you never do what you feel; If you speak your truth without thought to future implications or if you hold back your truth completely in hopes to avoid pain; If you are all about yourself or you are all about others. You see where I am going....neither extreme seems to be healthy for adults, couples, families, or communities.
Honoring the different parts of us as EQUALLY important - as equally relevant, as equally CRUCIAL - can be the first step to cherry picking the best qualities of our "inner child" and the best qualities of our "inner protector" and having them work together, compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses, and make you the best you possible.
Exercise: take a moment, take a deeeeeep breath, close your eyes, take another deep breath. Ask, "what do you need?". Be silent. Observe the first answer that floated to the surface effortlessly.
By giving that "truth" space - honoring it instead of dismissing it or minimizing it - you take a step toward that balance. If you have ignored or bullied your inner child for years, it's learned to hide. But it's still there. Show it by actions - not words - that you value it, that you will listen to it and that at the end of the day you will make the healthiest life moves for it even if it feels like it has to hear a "no" right now for bigger gains later. Slowly, that "inner spirit" will get louder and more accurate again (as it was when you were a very young child and before life got to you).
Be brave and try.