The Outer Child

By susanpeabody 08/23/18

You have probably met your inner child—now meet your outer child, the self-sabotaging nemesis of your personality—the part that breaks your diet and gets attracted to all the wrong people. 

Whereas inner child is all about feelings, our outer child is all about behavior. 

Our outer child acts out our inner child's feelings -- especially our abandonment feelings -- without giving our the adult, a chance to intervene. When we feel hurt, angry, or insecure, our outer child acts out these feelings in ways that sabotage our relationships. 

Our outer child takes feelings like anger and fear and goes off hell bent, impulsively making matters worse. It’s like an annoying, obnoxious older sibling who was only trying to help, bungling in an attempt to protect (overprotect) our inner child from abandonment. Stealthy, quick, and misguided, she interferes before we ever know what happened.

Our outer child acts out in patterns. She is a master procrastinator, rationalizer, avoidant. We can use our outer child as a self-awareness tool. In discovering our outer child, we get a leg up on overcoming our self-defeating patterns, improving our relationships, and becoming the self-possessed adult you always wanted to be.

Our outer child is the impulsive, obstinate, self-centered ten-year old within all of us. Our outer child wants what she wants NOW, and overrules us to get it. Our outer child prefers to binge on candy when we are steadfastly sticking to a diet (or so we thought). Our outer child says yes to a third glass of wine when we had decided on a two drink maximum. Our outer child thought that meant minimum. 

Our outer child is born of unresolved abandonment. She wreaks havoc in our relationships when she acts out our inner child's primal fear of abandonment. For example, she aims her emotional suction cups at our prospective partners and scares them away. 

In taking the outer child inventory, we undertake the first in-depth self-reckoning of our lifetime. As we gain outer child awareness, we own up to character defects most people prefer to deny. We learn how to deal with traits that until now formed an invisible infrastructure of self-sabotage deep within our personality. 

Our outer fights change—especially change initiated by our adult personality. She balks at doing the right thing and only wants things that are bad for our health, figure, or bank account. By bringing our outer out of the bunkers and into the daylight, we get to subvert her mission, rather than let her subvert ours. 

Outer grabs for immediate gratifications that sabotage your long range goals. You decide to pay down your credit cards, but Outer gets you to buy a shiny new boat. You decide to go on a fitness program, but Outer gets you to pay for the annual membership, but prevents you from actually using it. 

To learn more about your outer child read: Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Your Self-Defeating Patterns or Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson, the creator of the outer child concept.

My outer child is Gretchen and she is quite a handful. The most important thing I have learned about Gretchen is that she needs love as well as some restraint. She is lovable even though she is misguided.

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