Forgiving ourselves and Healing the Inner Child

I am grateful to Edith Stauffer for much of this section, drawn from her book "Unconditional Love and Forgiveness". I strongly urge you to obtain this book, and you can find the contact address in the References and Further Resources



These questions can be answered on many levels. The answers can be applied in many different situations. "Clear seeing" is often needed to unearth these and bring them to light, because it is not always obvious to our usual way of "seeing". The results are well worth the effort.

First confusion which prevents clear seeing:-

"Bad actions are done by Bad People" rather than: "That person's needs are not being met, or were not met in childhood. They are showing their pain, their fear, and their need for love, by that behaviour".

When we do something we think is "wrong" or "bad", we think we are bad. We confuse the doer with the action. Psychosynthesis principles clearly separate out the doer from the behaviour. It is possible to disagree with the actions of a person and still continue to love him/her without seeing him/her as "a bad person".

People can be seen as capable of not only the behaviour that may currently disturb us, but also of kind loving actions in different circumstances.

Second confusion:-

"I am bad and unworthy." rather than "I am capable of being a loving, kind, happy, joyous etc., person".

A poor perception of oneself is an illusion, caused by temporarily inhibiting perception of the good in oneself. (i.e. omitting to use Khooba with respect to oneself). This poor self-image then acts as a filter which distorts all information coming to us about ourselves or others, and we become controlled in nearly all our actions by the illusions which arise from this.

Sometimes we are more kind and forgiving to a stranger, or a pet animal, than we are to ourselves. When this is true, it is an indication that we have work to do with regard to our self-image.

With a wiser perspective we can see ourselves more completely, and know that we have a lower unconscious which contains all of our history and skills learned to date, and we also have a higher unconscious which has stored all our latent talents and capacities: the resources and design of the higher Self for what we can yet become. The treasures from both these "storehouses" can be brought in to enrich our lives, and psychosynthesis has methods for doing this.

Third confusion:-

"Sin must be punished", rather than "Mistakes are for joyously learning from, for they are the stepping stones to Wisdom".

In ancient times the word which became our word "sin", simply meant "missing the mark" as an archer, and the implication was that the reason for being off target would be determined, a new aim was to be taken, and the process simply repeated, getting closer and closer to the desired goal each time.

In our Western culture's view, "sin" has acquired different connotations, which have slipped into the mass consciousness and continue to dominate our thinking below the level of awareness. To "make a mistake", to be "wrong", to "fail", to "sin", etc., have all become occasions for recrimination or punishment, guilt or self-denigration.

The total collective harm caused by this is incalculable.....

People can end up thinking there is no good in them, and they feel ruined for this life, if not also for the next one.... The incidents are gone over in the mind and get out of proportion. The guilt demands punishment, - or so we reason.

The "punishment" may be in the following forms:-

1. Depriving ourselves of adventures and privileges we rightfully enjoy. Holding back our own growth

2. Depriving ourselves of relationships which could enhance our lives.

3. Depressing ourselves, or inhibiting our natural courage or other qualities.

4. Telling ourselves we have no right to live and wishing to die. Feeling we don't etc.

5. Developing an illness, physical , emotional, or mental.

6. Taking back a forgiveness we have done and starting to hurt ourselves again about what happened.

Sometimes we repressed the memory of our experiences of "missing the mark" without healing them. It may not have been the way we would have chosen to handle the problem if we had known a better way, but we really had not yet been trained in the skills of forgiveness, so we knew no other way. Hiding the memory by "forgetting" it may have been the only way we knew how to survive (the pain, or literally, physically).

Repression of these memories without healing them can lead to their effects continuing on in our lower unconscious instead of in our conscious minds. The same punishment goes on, but in unconsciousness. What happens then is that we tend to project the "punisher" out onto our environment, and "see" it there. It is "them out there" who hold us back and prevent us getting what we need. It is their fault.

This situation can persist for a long time, insidiously altering our bodies, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, behaviour, relationships, - in short, the whole texture of our lives.

One day, we may have an accident, or get symptoms, go to a doctor, have tests, and learn that we are suffering from a disease. This comes as a surprise! We have taken exercise, vitamins, healthy food, been "good", and not hurt anyone (only ourselves). We can even take this as further "proof" that Life is unfair.


When we allow ourselves to become conscious of these confusions, or errors in our perceptions, then we have a choice once more about doing something about it. Sometimes illness is a valuable clue that we need to examine our inner world and make adjustments. Then we can be grateful for the illness. What a paradox......the illness that was first perceived as an "enemy" to be got rid of, sometimes becomes in reality a friend, a teacher, a guide, leading us back to the course in life preferred by our highest consciousness, our Higher Self.

Once we are conscious of our error(s), we need only regret the wrong long enough to decide to learn the lesson which the mistake can teach us.

The next step is to allow healing of our stress to come from the Higher Self, which is the origin of health and healing within us. When we hold ourselves open to the transpersonal attitude of unconditional love and forgiveness, the Higher Self can and does pour its healing energies into our bodies, emotions, and minds. All healing comes from within ultimately, - without this miracle no doctor or surgeon would ever make a living...

We do NOT have to stay in the punishing or lamenting space into which the confusions and misperceptions outlined above have led us.

We can learn from our experience, see our role in the situation in wiser and more compassionate perspective, and use our Will to discontinue unproductive perceptions, decisions, and behaviours. We can allow the natural healing energy of the Higher Self to restore us to perfect balance once again.

The Will to live and Purpose for living

The Higher Self knows everything we have done, thought, or said. Psychosynthesis has unique processes for stimulating the will and for the wise use of material from our lower unconscious, where our history is recorded, and from our higher unconscious, where our potential resides. It (the Higher Self) also knows our true purpose for living. Since the will-to-live is well-known to be the number-one factor in recovery from serious illness, it is important that the person addresses the questions: "Do I have unfulfilled purposes?", "Am I willing to find a new purpose for living?", "For what do I will to live?"

A person who has become ill may not be fully involved in serving the needs of others. Their work may be of serving others, but they may not have their will totally involved in the serving process. Or because their work does not involve their unique talents and abilities, they may be going through the outer motions of serving without being "heart and soul" involved in it. Resentment can creep in, sapping essential vitality...



Getting the information:

The "part of the mind that knows all about the person" can be asked to take them back to the incident(s) which "caused" the disease. This is not a thinking process using the intellect. It is allowing that part of us that is above the mental level to be in charge of the process. It is surprising how often the mind will locate precisely the incident(s), GIVEN AN APPROPRIATE, LOVING ATMOSPHERE, AND ENOUGH TIME.

Or, the Self can lovingly invite forth an image which represents the disease, or the part of them which is responsible for the disease. Using a special gestalt technique of then 'becoming' that part or image, they can address the Self, say what the unmet needs are, and 'show' the Self on an imaginary video screen all the incidents which have contributed to the disease. (This is part of a process called "Embracing Disease as Teacher" which I first learned from Vivian King whose e-mail address is: <>)

Almost without exception, the incidents reported are those where one feels guilt for what one has done or allowed others to do, or where one is holding hate or resentment against oneself or another person or persons.

Often, as one follows the thread of incidents "shown" in this way backwards through the person's life, it leads to a particularly significant incident as a child.

Healing the Inner Child

As a child, one usually had no choice or no power to prevent what happened. In such situations, the child nevertheless often blames him/herself for what others did. The child may "swallow" the false guilt that s/he could not prevent the incident(s), and the associated anger, fear, grief, outrage etc. The sense of outrage may lead to hopes or thoughts of harm to the perpetrator, but there is also guilt about harbouring such thoughts.

For example, a child is molested by a relative living in the home. The child knows it is not right, but feels caught in the situation. Never telling anyone, keeping the dark secret, the sense of guilt may be held, even repressed out of awareness, for thirty or forty years. The damage continues, however, at unconscious levels. The underlying negative emotion, the false guilt, affects every level of the person's existence.

Often when children feel this bad, they may have wished to die (as adults can also).

Sometimes their lives are at risk if they tell anyone. They may become obsessed with the thought of dying. Death may appear to them better than what they are experiencing. They may even feel that they should die for what happened, believing themselves to be "bad" - or how could such things have happened to them?

Feeling that the love of the parent(s) will be lost if they were to find out what has been happening, they can also come to feel unworthy of love.

Such a deep unconscious wish to die, with images of dying, and/or feeling that one should not have been born, can often be found in persons suffering severe and life-threatening illness...

In re-viewing this incident which "caused" the disease, from the position of the Self, the person will often now see the incident in a different light. They can see how helpless they were at the time it happened, and that they had no responsibility for what happened.

In creative imagination, they can "move into" the scene with all the wisdom, strength, and love of the Higher Self, to heal the child in them. They can say to the child-they-were exactly what they needed to hear as that child, and act out the loving hug or gesture that would have been what the child needed then. The child can be told that they are loved just as they were then.

The Self can then create in the imagination a day for the Inner Child which exactly fulfils the needs that were unmet then.

The Healed Inner Child is then returned to the scene with all the resources thus given, and the scene recreated exactly how they would have preferred. With this fundamental new energy in their psyche, all the other incidents which followed can be "re-scripted" with satisfactory outcomes.

Now, in the memory bank, are stored more balanced energies from which the person can draw in future.

The life-review that this process leads forth, also shows all the incidents where the person is holding hate or resentment of others. The next step is to use the Forgiveness of Others Process to forgive the menacing adult(s) and others who molested , injured, or offended them.

There may be associated or unrelated incidents where the person realises that they did not live up to their own expectations of themselves, and the Self-Forgiveness of the Personality Process will be used.

Sometimes, when sore pressed, a person can create an illness or death wish upon someone who has harmed them. But this goes against the will of the Deep Self, and creates a deep inner conflict or tension, that can only be resolved by the process of self-forgiveness.

Sometimes the person is also still very angry at Life, or "God" (their image of "God"), and "Forgiving Life, or God" (using the Forgiveness of Others Process) , and then oneself for hating "God", (!), is needed to fully restore the flow of life and love energies. It can be very enlightening for one who feels this, to role-play "God" and speak to themselves from God's perspective, as they engage in a gestalt psychodrama between themselves and "God", as a lead-in to their forgiveness of "God".

Completing these processes can produce very great relief, - and fundamental changes in the way a person is in the world, and in their ability to self-heal. The full potential of these approaches has not yet been fully explored, and research is needed to document the many ways people apply these principles to each individual's life-situations.

A guide (therapist) with experience in these methods can greatly assist a person through this phase of self-healing and may be needed in case of difficulty, until the skills are second nature.

Ideas for the way of healing of the Inner Child used in the forgiveness process were originally stimulated for me by Dr. Milton Ericson. Healing the Inner Child work has also been taken extensively up by John Bradshaw in his books and workshops.

Link here to go on to the Longer Version: Self-Forgiveness Step One - Understanding the Definition of Forgiveness

Link here to go on to the Shorter Version: Self-forgiveness process - Basic (shorter) version

Link here to return to Forgiveness Programme - Contents