By Lori Jackson
In my practice, I find that within the first three sessions, I can identify the emotional age of the person sitting in front of me, based on the stories they tell me and how they react, and act in certain situations. It is my experience that when a person goes through a major attachment disruption or a trauma (which can often be one in the same), they become emotionally stunted at the age they were when the event occurred. This explains why we see grown men acting like stubborn 5-year-old children, or professional and strong women who become preschoolers when they don’t get their way or their feelings get hurt.
My job is to help a person to identify what I call his or her Emotional Age, and then to gain all and any understanding of a person this age. So, if your Emotional Age is 18 months, let’s learn anything and everything about an 18-month-old and their development. Let’s learn about their eating, their temperament, their sleep, how to soothe them, what they need, and so on. Once we have learned this, we then begin our tracking. Watch yourself when you become upset, what you do, how you react and what you actually feel inside, what your self-talk thoughts are, and so on.
Now, how about when you are NOT upset? Let’s love yourself as if you were the Emotional Age we have identified. So, let’s play with blocks, let’s eat with our hands, let’s listen to soothing and nurturing music, let’s drink from a water bottle all of the time, let’s find a cozy and comfy blanket and snuggle with it any time we can, let’s sleep with a teddy bear, let’s ask for a lot of hugs, and so on.
What happens when we begin to nurture ourselves when we are not in an upset state of mind is that we are giving ourselves exactly what we needed when we were the age of the disruption. We are showing ourselves that we are capable of loving ourselves. And let me just say that the more you do this, the more of the following will occur:
- You will begin to feel full and safe.
- You will find yourself reacting as if you were that small child less and less.
- You will find yourself “growing up” and will not respond as the initial age any longer.
- You will feel more insightful and aware of your inner self.
- You will not need external support as much as you did because you are giving it to yourself.
- You will feel more empowered, strong and free of your inner child.
- Your inner child will in turn respond feeling relaxed and trusting that you have got them.
So, the next time you tell yourself, or someone else for that matter, “You are acting like a child,” stop and think: is this an Emotional Age responding or is this just a one time being silly thing? If your Emotional Age is speaking out, it may be time to explore some of the tips above to help you work out of that age — well, only if it’s not working for you. 😉