7 Inner Child ArchetypesAug 06, 2021
To live is to have a story.
We either enter our stories or they own us. Only when we have the courage to own our history are, we able to write a brave new ending to our story.
Your story matters-all of it. It is never too late to give us the gift of a do-over, a reset. To reparent and acknowledge deficits or wounds is brave work and when you encounter the child within you, you can tell her that she is safe because you are showing up as who she needed. She will show up in the ways that you parent, teach, or caregiver for children, crying out for the guidance she didn’t receive and still craves. There are 7 Inner Child Archetypes as defined by Dr. LePera in her book, How to Do the Work:
The caretaker: Typically comes from codependent dynamics. Gains a sense of identity and self-worth through neglecting their own needs. Believes that the only way to receive love is to cater to others and ignore their own needs.
The overachiever: Feels seen, heard, and valued through success and achievement. Uses external validation as a way to cope with low self-worth. Believes that the only way to receive love is through achievement.
The underachiever Keeps themselves small, unseen, and beneath their potential due to the fear of criticism or shame of failure. Takes themselves out of the emotional game before it’s ever played. Believes that the only way to receive love is to stay invisible.
The rescuer/protector: Ferocisiously attempts to rescue those around them in an attempt to heal from their own vulnerability, especially childhood. Views others as helpless, incapable, and dependent and derives their love and self-worth from being in a position of power. Believes that the only way to receive love is to help others by focusing on their wants and needs and helping to solve their problems.
The life of the party: This is the always happy and cheerful comedic person who never shows pain, weakness, or vulnerability. It’s likely that this inner child was shamed for their emotional state. Believes the only way to feel okay and receive love is to make sure that everyone around them is happy.
The yes-person: Drops everything and neglects all needs in the service of others. Was likely modeled self-sacrifice in childhood and engaged in deep codependency patterns, much as the caretaker did. Believes that the only way to receive love is to be both good and selfless.
The hero-worshipper: Needs to have a person or guru to follow. Likely emerges from an inner child wound made by a caretaker who was perceived superhuman, without faults. Believes that the only way to receive love is to reject their own needs and desires and view others as a model to learn how to live.
Each type of inner child archetype has one thing in common: they were born from broken connections and unmet emotional needs. We play roles in our internal family systems. Roles we are modeled, assigned, and assume unconsciously to survive. They become unspoken narratives of our lives. Behaviors were conditioned through repeated modeling resulting in a belief about yourself. Such “scripts” and narratives are written into the fabric of our lives, tightly woven into the way we see everything and everyone around us. Many of the traits you call your personality or way of being are narratives from early childhood. Although it didn’t start with you, and it wasn’t your fault, how you make sense of it is up to you. The cost is too great to leave wounds unaddressed. To fully engage the hearts of children, we must make peace with the past. Until we acknowledge and name the stores of our brokenness they will continue to scream for attention. We must stay curious about why we react or not react to people and situations in our lives. As adults, unprocessed trauma creates maladaptive coping mechanisms to avoid more pain.
The most common are:
People-pleasing: Once you meet the demand, the stress is (temporarily) gone.
Anger or rage: If you can discharge the emotion onto someone else, you’ve released it.
Dissociate: You “leave your body” during a stressful event so that you don’t “experience” the trauma in the first place
My “go-to” response, for years, was rage. I would fly off the handle at the slightest mistake leaving my sons broken in the wreckage. It wasn’t until I went searching for what was interfering with my ability to securely attach that I found a little girl inside who was raging at her fear, uncertainty, and emotional neglect. Why responses do you identify with? Can you see any of these traits already presenting in the life of a child you love? Use them as clues to where the repair needs to occur.
LePera, Nicole. How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self. New York, NY: Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2021.