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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Barrett

 ReIntegrating unprocessed emotions from childhood

Updated: Mar 21

For many of us for whatever reason as children we felt ill equipped to back ourselves, to trust ourselves to stand up for ourselves when we felt slighted or hurt or when our boundaries were violated. So as a coping mechanism we created personas as a strategy to keep ourselves safe from potential threat, best we could. These could be being ‘nice’, being ‘perfect’, being jovial, being helpful, they could be anything, anything to possibly give us an added layer of protection.

We could have hated our parents, siblings, teachers, friends and bullies at times for the way they made us feel but couldn’t allow ourselves to feel those feelings as children because we were alone in these overwhelming feelings and what would that mean for our survival. Maybe we’d never been held in our emotions. Maybe we’ve never had our authentic feelings validated. Maybe we'd never been reassured that every feeling is perfectly valid, that it is just a feeling and it doesn't make you 'bad'. That all feelings come and go.

You can love your family and friends deeply but not like all of their traits or how they treat you at times, but as children if we are not shown how to assert our boundaries we seem to have to take it and just develop ways to cope and survive. We may have become so accustomed to the childhood dynamic of being the ‘helpless’ or 'disempowered' one that it can feel almost impossible to address boundary violations in adulthood. Coping strategies and ways of being are so deeply in grained that we often don’t even know they are there. We believe it’s who we are. We really believe that we are unable or ill equipped or unjustified to address a perceived boundary violation. We may gaslight ourselves to the point of insanity, a lack of an ability to know and establish our boundaries creates so much self doubt.

Our authentic feelings of maybe hatred, upset, resentment go underground/ subconscious if it is not safe to consciously feel them as helpless children. Obviously In a childs little innocent mind/body emotions can be too overwhelming to handle alone.

These authentic feelings don’t go away and as our bodies grow and develop in to stronger, autonomous beings that do now have the capacity to protect themselves the feelings that had gone underground for safety can begin to emerge. They emerge to be allowed and integrated back in to personal power.

Eg Imagine you are an extremely sensitive child and you’d been terrorised repeatedly by a sibling who was twice your size from when you were three years old but your parent was too preoccupied to notice let alone help you assert your boundary when being bullied. Your body would naturally develop a coping mechanism you may laugh and try to befriend them and pretend it doesn’t hurt you, you may as much as you can try to hide away (avoid), you may try to be really nice and tiptoe around the bully; walking on egg shells, on high alert for potential threat. You may numb yourself out completely if there’s no way to fight or flee. You may lie to yourself and pretend you don’t care. You may become a bully yourself and deflect it on to others to alleviate the pain and stress in the body. Your body will develop a coping strategy to defend from attack in any immature way it can. The bullying does not even have to be extreme, just repeated violations or slights can cause as much harm as overt physical abuse as they erode your essential sense of safety and trust in life and yourself because you feel unable to stop it.

When you’ve matured in to an adult these feelings from childhood don’t always just resolve themselves. Because the body is big enough to defend itself these repressed emotions may well begin to surface, seeking integration and resolution.

It can be so highly confusing and crazy making. You may feel that as adults at the conscious level ‘no everything is sweet with my family we’ve all grown up now and have great relationships’, but the body knows different and it never lies. The body has a perfect record of all the times you’ve experienced fear, anger, hatred, violation from when you were a child but were unable to resolve these emotions back then.

When you are around the people who caused the body distress the body will feel it, you may regress to childlike ways, the body may have its guard up and nothing you can do consciously I.e try to reason or analyse the feelings away will work. “This just isn’t right, we are grown up now, all of that nonsense is water under the bridge.’ We may gaslight ourselves repeatedly. “I’m an adult I shouldn’t feel these feelings of jealousy or resentment or fear etc…” We may blame and shame ourselves and we become our own self improvement project.

So what is the solution?

Feel the feelings…allow them to be…to naturally come to completion…let them speak….let them shout….let them scream….they deserve air time….they deserve to be heard. Assure that little one inside that you are here for them now, to protect them and give them everything they need. 

You don’t necessarily need to bring past up to the family members or people from past who were  involved (although this may feel necessary), this can sometimes just create unnecessary drama but at the very least acknowledge and allow the feelings in your body, without resisting or overly intellectualising. Again, they deserve it. Those childhood parts of ourselves deserve the love and safety they craved and didn't get back. This is how they integrate and become metabolised back in to personal power.

As always if you need support through this process of reintegration don’t hesitate to text to make an appointment with me - 0432 659 044 or drop an email with any questions

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