Your “Inner Child” Is Running Your Love Life
We all yearn for love – because we all need love. However, most of us are confused about love. We don’t know what healthy love is, or what it’s not. This confusion leads to all sorts of irrational behaviors and reactions in our relationships. It can impact our ability to make or keep commitments. It can result in withdrawal or anxiety, or lead to infidelity and feelings of betrayal.
If real love creates bliss, confusion about love creates a mess.
What’s often missing in relationships, and what’s needed at our core, is a simple human feeling: I feel safe. I trust you. I feel secure being with you.
Here is some good news for those troubled by love’s confusion: There is a simple science, and a practical art, to experiencing dependable and passionate love – both in and out of the bedroom.
You can learn the basic building blocks of love – essential steps that create a thriving relationship. It begins by uncovering childhood patterns, and healing the wounds of your Inner Child in a very direct and practical way.
We are both in recovery from love’s confusion. Like you, we’ve had glorious ideas about what love should be, and terrible disappointments in what love turned out to be. We dedicated ourselves to cracking the code, and we accomplished our goal. We’ve rewired our brains and we now enjoy a secure, passionate, and creative relationship. It is possible. If we can do it, you can do it.
Deep inside, you have an intuitive sense of how love ought to feel. This isn’t just a fairytale fantasy. Every infant knows innately what love feels like. We are all born with this instinct – and neurological need – to be loved in this way. We never outgrow this need to be deeply connected to someone we trust. Whether infant, child, or adult, we want our core needs to be a priority for someone.
The latest neuroscience research suggests that our brains are neurologically wired to receive and give love. Babies are happy when their needs are met consistently and they’re held in a safe and dependable way. The optimal mother-child bond feels tender and warm, safe and secure. As the infant grows, he or she feels seen, recognized, and cherished. This vital connection greatly enhances intelligence, health, and self-worth. This type of bond is called secure attachment.
Here’s the problem: As infants, few of us got this kind of love. Our parents were not secure in themselves. They didn’t know how to offer healthy love. They had their own difficulties to deal with, along with a household, other children, and an imperfect marriage. They weren’t able to offer a safe and consistent harbor. Consequently, most of us got the other kind of bond – insecure attachment.
Before we could talk, our brain got wired for a certain kind of love. Your particular attachment style was locked in – we call it your Love Operating System. If your L.O.S. was badly programmed by repeated experiences of abandonment, rejection, or criticism, this stress can cause a wide range of problems in your adult love relationships, including emotional insecurity or difficulties forming secure partnerships. Body symptoms may appear such as illnesses, sexual dysfunction, or even addictions.
The essential nature of healthy Love is simple: it is generous, reliable and caring. It feels like a nourishing connection we can rest in. We feel comfortable revealing our deepest needs, and our highest aspirations. We know we can expose our true self, including our greatest fears and our genuine magnificence.
What’s confusing about love is that it’s often mixed with a host of other feelings, such as anxiety, shame, or anger. If that’s the type of love you experienced during the first years of your life, you’ve probably felt insecure about love in the past, and you may still feel this way. If so, you may be afraid of being hurt, and wary about letting anyone into your heart. You might have difficulties developing a positive, dependable bond with someone.
Our parents were our original teachers about love. For most of us, they were not ideal mentors. What we learned from them wasn’t secure, healthy love. It was an unhealthy substitute, a mixture of their desire to love, along with their insecurities and need for control. Their feelings of love for you were probably mixed with their own childhood conditioning. They didn’t know how to love you, because their parents didn’t know what healthy love was. If one or both parents were absent, you learned that love is mired in avoidance and rejection.
In the worst cases, their “love” may have included emotional or physical neglect, abandonment or abuse. Some adults unconsciously re-create these traumatic dynamics with their partners, resulting in vicious processing cycles that never resolve. We call this traumatic attachment, which usually requires professional support to heal.
Combining all of these factors, you have a perfect formula for the chaos that most of us experience in our primary relationship.
No wonder most of us are confused about love!
The great news is: All of your past conditioning can be healed and re-wired with a little bit of effort. To do so, return to the basic building blocks you missed when you were younger. Change the programming your Inner Child received, and re-learn what secure attachment (healthy love) feels like.
Learning to love with confidence is no different than learning any other skill. All it requires is some study and practice. Regardless of your natural talent or previous experience, you can nurture your ability to love, starting with understanding the basics. The results include more mutual security, passion, and joy. And for those who want it, more hot sex!
Having worked with hundreds of couples and singles, we have seen swift and radical improvements when people commit to learning secure attachment. When you bring these skills back to your family (or workplace), love flourishes.
It’s never too late! If your Inner Child has been running your love life, learn the simple steps that allow your Inner Adult to take over control of your relationship with your partner. If you’re single, develop the skills you need to create an extraordinary next relationship. Encourage your Inner Child to go outdoors and play while you and your partner heat up some healthy adult passion!
 Dr. Dan Seigel, The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (Guilford Press 2012)
Online Dating ProfilePosted at 17:42h, 25 August
Wonderful post! We will be linking to this great article on our
website. Keep up the great writing.
Lion GoodmanPosted at 06:41h, 14 January
Thanks! Your website, LoveDelusions.com, has a very similar feel to our ConfusedAboutLove.com. We’d like to use a question mark to make it clearer, but you can’t use one in a url. Confused About Love?
Marie-France Kiraly-ChouinardPosted at 16:31h, 28 May
Thank you Lion . Your words made me think and encouraged me to gently push aside my fears and take a step forward towards improving my current relationship
Frances-AgapePosted at 21:47h, 30 May
Your article really hit home.
I have never forgotten this conversation with my mom when I was about 4 standing next to her in a chair.
Mom: You don’t love me.
Me: (thinking she was teasing, although something she never did) Yes, I do.
Mom: No you don’t.
Me: (thinking she was teasing, although something she never did) Yes, I do.
Mom: (more emphatically) No you don’t love me.
Me: (realizing she wasn’t teasing) Yes, I do love you!
Mom: No you don’t.
Me: (hitting her leg) Yes, I do love you!
Mom: (more emphatically) No you don’t love me. If you did, you would keep your toys picked up so I wouldn’t have to.
Me: (too shocked to reply)
My conclusion – mom ONLY loved me for what I did for her.
Other incidents throughout my childhood (AND adulthood!) always seemed to CONFIRM her conditional love for me.
My dad was no better.
His rules were “Don’t speak until you’re spoken to”, “Children are to be seen and not heard like when I was a kid”, “Leave me alone,” “Don’t bother me”, “Be quiet,” and “Be still”.
My conclusion – dad ONLY loved me if I didn’t speak, make noise or move much.
So my entire life I have believed that love is always conditional. And something that must be earned and can be easily lost my the wrong words, actions or inactions.
THANK GOODNESS, I was FINALLY blessed with REAL LOVE with my husband Jack.
But, I was always nervous that I would do something (or not do something) to make him stop loving me. Although I never did and he has never stopped loving me.
As great as it has been, I lost myself because I never asserted my opinions or needs.
Jack made ALL the decisions, both on his own and when I deferred to him: financial; purchases; where to go; and what and when to do things.
After almost 40 years of marriage, the status quo is so ingrained that he gets extremely upset when I question or offer an alternative to any of his decisions.
Cecile RaynorPosted at 18:57h, 28 January
Thanks for your post Lion. Good reminders yet, I am left with a question not covered in the article. I just started a relationship with a man who, like me, grew up in a poor childhood environment with a narcissistic mom. It triggered both of us to study psychology and practice meditation.
I learn from my mom how not to be and was always a nurturing figure in my relationships. He seems to want that but partly retrieves in his shell when receiving nurturing to the point I believe he will need months of deepening friendship before being able to open his heart to a new relationship as he had been betrayed in his last relationship.
So, one aspect of my question is why a love-less family environment turned me into a nurturing person and, at this point of his life, it seems to pull him away from what he wants so badly?
And the other aspect is that in your article, you seem to state that lack of love when growing up seems to make people unable to be loving and nurturing until they learn to do so again. Am I an exception or is there another scenario worse mentioning? I was born with healing skills and always tried to educate my parents. Is that a factor?
Lion GoodmanPosted at 21:45h, 28 January
Cecile: Thank you for this question. Each child responds to their environment – and the deficit in that environment – in their own way, creating their own strategy for survival. Some fold into their shell as protection from the hurt and harm being done. Some reach out to fix the problem, becoming a fixer, caretaker, or sacrificial lamb to make the situation better. Some escape into fantasyland, or leave their body and dissociating. Some become hyperaware of others and stay anxious in case the bad thing is going to happen again. Why does a particular child choose a particular survival strategy? It could be biology, it could be karmic history, it could be soul tendency, or a decision by the soul to try something different than it ever tried before. It could be a karmic pattern set up lifetimes ago with that other soul or souls. It could be random noise in the brain/body system that tilts one way or the other. My best guess is that a child will try MANY different strategies and then watch for the results. One of them gets a better or the best response from the parent – whom the child is dependent on for their survival. When I get quiet and withdraw, the criticism stops. Or when I reach out with my heart and care for their pain, the criticism stops. Or the criticism isn’t stopping no matter what, so I’ll just fold into myself. That’s my best guess (along with built-in tendencies from past lives) – experimentation leads to one particular strategy becoming the “go-to” strategy for survival. This is what we call the Core Wound, and Core Strategy – and these patterns tend to stick with us our whole lives, and continue to operate in our adult relationships. It’s as true for me as it is for my clients. Even though I’ve done a ton of work on myself, sometimes that early go-to strategy pops up and grabs control. I hope this is helpful – a picture of the many possibilities. I would be happy to hear your comments.
Lion GoodmanPosted at 22:38h, 15 June
Cecile: The element that may be missing from my article is that the circumstances in any family system has an impact on the child, and the child can respond in many different ways, using many different strategies. Children will usually try a few different strategies to see which one works best, and then they stick with that one… for the rest of their lives. So it’s not just what happened to you, or what didn’t happen for you, it’s also how you responded to the circumstances, and what you made of it – in “what it means about me,” “what it means about them,” and “how I’m going to respond to this situation whenever it occurs again.” That’s simplified of course, but it’s the essence. Your response was, “I’m not going to do to others what they did to me (or “I’m going to give to others what WASN’T given to me”). His strategy was to pull back into his shell – probably because when he DID get love, it came attached to something else – obligation, invasion, exchange, expectation, or something else. So when love comes around – LOOK OUT! HIDE! A perfectly reasonable strategy for the child he was. The goal will be to update his child self and the protective mechanism, and help the inner child recognize that you are not Mother or Father. I hope this explanation helps and fills in the missing pieces.
BobPosted at 20:30h, 28 January
Thanks Lion. To quote a popular song I think my Inner child has been “looking for love in all the wrong places” through no fault of his
Cecile RaynorPosted at 15:47h, 29 January
Thanks, Lion for your thorough answer. It all resonates with the thoughts I had about it. Thank you also for being genuine and acknowledging it can pop up all through life even when we have done a ton of work on ourselves and always involved in clearing such patterns ever so deeply. 🙂
Doris ShannonPosted at 15:58h, 15 June
After attending many of your courses and serving as a consciousness coach to others. It has become crystal clear, how the traumas and losses of my childhood created an internal brick wall.
A wall that has never allowed me to achieve LOVE.
Although I am past the stage of trying – I use it to inform me in how to help others. Thanks
KaitlinPosted at 20:10h, 15 June
Yes…the power and damage of insecure attachment…. Your depth of knowledge, generosity in sharing and expertise consistently hits the mark. I’m eternally grateful for the brilliant work you did with me and always attach your name to the first crack at helping me identify and clearing some highly destructive beliefs.
Lion GoodmanPosted at 22:31h, 15 June
Thank you, Kaitlin. It is my honor and privilege to work with you and so many other brilliant beings.
Emilie AzekaPosted at 18:15h, 14 December
Hi Lion, I did your Clear Beliefs class with Lisa Cary. THis seems to go deeper into another level. Having experienced physical abuse by mother, & abandonment by father, I chose to survive by AGREEING with what my mother said as she beat me with a broomstick(just my legs so it wouldn’t be seen). I am interested in what your courses address & HOW in learning to reclaim who I really am & who I want to rediscover. Aloha, Emilie
Lion GoodmanPosted at 03:30h, 23 December
Emilie: Trauma runs deep in MOST people in our culture. Even if you have a pleasant-enough childhood, you could inherit trauma from a parent or grandparent – it’s now being called Transgenerational Trauma. This is seen clearly in the children of Holocaust survivors, as well as other human and natural disasters. People can also bring trauma from past lives, which we see in some of our clients. There is the simple traumas that come from being laughed at or humiliated by teachers or other children in school, or parents who think they are “teaching you” but are creating fear with their words, threats, or teasing. The Clear Beliefs Coach Training addresses ALL of these types of trauma with simple, clear processes that do not trigger or re-stimulate past traumas, but instead clear them at their source without re-experiencing them. It’s not “what happened” that is the source of trouble in our life, but rather “what we made of what happened.” The beliefs that were formed from what happened. We work at that level – the belief layer – which is where we get into trouble in our lives – beliefs about ourselves, beliefs about others, and beliefs about the world. Come join us and learn how to clear your own beliefs, wounds and traumas, while learning how to clear others as a practitioner of this method.