Reparenting is the process of healing through which we access and grow a loving inner parent that can repair the wounds that were left from being raised by caregivers who were incapable of teaching us the fundamental skills and habits necessary for well-being: how to care lovingly for our physical bodies, how to respond to our thoughts with discernment, how to tend to our emotional lives with both tenderness and discipline, and how to nurture our innate spark so that we can follow the clues of yes that fill the well of self. When we engage daily with these reparative processes, reparenting then becomes repairenting. (Clever, eh? :)).
To fully explain what it means to reparent extends beyond the scope of a single blog post (please read my book, The Wisdom of Anxiety, for more comprehensive tools and guidance), but for today I’d like to breakdown one of the clarifying components of the reparenting process, which is to discern between the loving inner mother and the loving inner father.
We all have a loving inner mother and father, and let me first start by saying that inner “mother” and “father” have nothing to do with gender; rather, like the terms feminine and masculine, these are archetypal qualities or energy fields that stream through all human beings.
Qualities of the Loving Inner Mother:
- Compassionate: When feelings arise, the inner mother says, “I’m here. I understand. It’s okay. It will pass through you.”
- Empathic: “I’ve felt that way before and it makes so much sense that you feel that way.”
- Holding: “I’m here. I’ve got you. Come sit with me.”
- Tending: “I’ll be here as long as you need me.”
- Being: “We don’t have to say anything at all. We can just be together in silence.” Recognizes that sometimes the most loving response to difficult feelings is tender silence and that words are often overrated.
- Creating: Making time to turn inward and allow creative expressions to emerge.
Qualities of the Loving Inner Father:
- Disciplined: Can follow-through on tasks; keeps commitments and promises.
- Discerning: Can discern between thoughts that need attention and thoughts that can be brushed aside. Can discern between honoring and pushing with emotions and physical sensations. For example, there are times when you need to rest and times when you need to exercise. The inner father listens and discerns between the two.
- Firm, especially with emotions: It’s the loving inner mother that brings tenderness and compassion to our emotions, but it’s the loving inner father who knows when we’re starting to drown in the feelings and says, “That’s enough for now. It’s time to get up and move the body.”
- Clear-Thinking: The Inner Father knows who you are and doesn’t become muddied by other people’s perceptions or projections.
- Doing: It’s the feminine that creates the art but it’s the masculine that brings it out into the world. It’s the feminine that dreams and it’s the masculine that manifests.
- Protective: The Inner Father protects your inner world by setting appropriate and loving boundaries and speaking up in the face of injustice.
Notice that the first two words in the above list share a common root of discipulus, which is Latin for pupil. When we’re connected to our loving inner father, we’re accessing the left hemisphere that is guided by the light of clarity and learning. In other words, you’re in the thinking realm: firm, clear, and devoted to the values and principles that inform your life. The etymology of the word disciple is “someone who is a student.” The word has taken on religious connotations, but I understand it as being a disciple of your own inner path and creative expressions; a disciple of soul or Self. When you are in service to Self, you gather the runes of your wisdom and expressions and find the discipline and courage to bring them out into the world.
Let me make it clear here that these are qualities that we’re all learning to access; they enter in and they fall away in concentric layers and spirals of learning and growing. If your perfectionist jumps onto the scene and wants to castigate you by jumping into a story that says, “I don’t have an inner loving father at all – I never finish courses – I have terrible follow-through”… I encourage you to pause, name that story, breathe into it, and ask, “What are some ways that I do show up for myself with my loving inner father?” Perhaps you have a hard time finishing courses but you’re skilled at cleaning or paying your bills. Maybe you struggle with householder tasks but you’re faithful to your dream life. I’ve never met someone who didn’t have some qualities of the inner loving father, and I have no doubt that the same is true for you.
Also, there’s usually one inner parent that’s more developed and one that’s underdeveloped. You may excel in completing tasks and bringing yourself into the work world, but struggle to tend to your emotional life with kindness. That’s okay! The work is to name it so you can notice it, then bring the light of your curiosity to the places that need more attention.
Which of these parts is more developed for you? Which needs more attention? I’d love to hear below.
If you’re new to my site, welcome! I’m so glad you’re here and I welcome your comments that are directly related to each week’s post. If you’re struggling with relationship anxiety, I encourage you to consider my course, Break Free From Relationship Anxiety, where you will find comprehensive tools, information, and 24/7 forum support to help you open your heart and find clarity.