If someone was abused during their early years, they may find that it is not possible for them to put the past behind them. A number of decades may have passed since that time in their life, but it could be as if very little time has passed.

And although their caregivers didn’t treat them well, they may still look towards these people to love them. This is not to say that this will happen directly, as it is likely to be something that takes place indirectly.

For Example

One can do things for their parents and live their life in a certain way, in the hope that they will finally receive the acceptance, attention, validation and approval that they didn’t receive as a child. It wouldn’t have been possible for these people to love them at this stage of their life, but this won’t stop one from trying to get these people to love them now that they are an adult.

One can believe that it is different now and that, if they try hard enough, they will receive the love that they need from them. However, although they may have this belief, it is highly unlikely that this will actually happen.

Stepping Back

If one was able to take a step back and to reflect on their behaviour, what they may find is that they are not in control of their behaviour. Instead, another part of them has taken over, causing them to suffer unnecessarily.

What they may have found is that the child part inside them is what wants their caregivers to love them. The years will have passed since that stage of their life, that much is clear, but what won’t have been clear until this point is that the child they once were now lives inside them.

Inner Conflict

To the child part inside them, or the child parts as there are likely to be more than one, getting their caregivers love will be a matter of life and death. One would have needed this love when they were a child, and this part of them will still need it even though they now live in the body of an adult.

In other words, one will no longer look like a child but they will still feel like a child. In reality, one doesn’t need their caregivers to love them, and this is a good thing as it is highly unlikely that this will ever happen.

Waking Up

So when one has the need to receive something from their caregivers, it is going to show that they have merged with their inner child or child part of themselves. When this happens, they will be replying a pattern that they have probably played out hundreds of times before.

This will be pattern where one looks to their caregivers to give them what they are unable to give them. There is a strong chance that one has also looked towards other adults to give them what they are unable to give them, too.

Repetition Compulsion

On one side, the child self inside them will want to receive what it was unable to receive and, on the other, it will fear receiving it. The reason for this is that even though what took place would have been painful, it would have become what was familiar.

And to the part of their being that is there to keep them alive, what is familiar is seen as what is safe. This is then why this child part of them will continually do the same thing over and over again, even though it doesn’t work.

The Observer Self

When one is able to step back, then, they will be able to see why they have behaved in this way for so long. Nonetheless, it can take a while for them to get to this point and even longer for them to be able to maintain this inner point of view.

In the same way that an outer skill needs to be developed and takes time to be developed, the ability to step back and to observe this child self is also something that has to be developed and takes time to be developed. Meditating and working through the pain that this child self is in will help with this.

Extreme Pain

What these two things will also do is allow them to develop their adult self - the self that can be there for their child self. Their adult self doesn’t need anything from their caregivers and it can re-parent their child self.

When they start to work through this pain, it can be even worse than the pain that they usually experience by not getting their unmet childhood needs met. What his comes down to is that even though the child part of them will suffer when this happens, it can still cling to the hope that it will be different next time, thereby preventing this part of them from having to face up to the truth.


If this part of them was to face up to the fact that their needs can’t be met by their caregivers (or anyone else for that matter), it would cause it to come into contact with a lot of deep pain. This will relate to the pain that it had to disconnect from whenever its needs were not met throughout its childhood years.

Repeating the same pattern over and over again is then not just going to be what is familiar, it will also be what allows this part of them to avoid a lot of pain. Doing something that doesn’t work is going to be a way to stop this part of them, and their whole being, from being overwhelmed by pain.


This is why external support is important, as with the assistance of a therapist or a healer, one will be able to work through what they wouldn’t be able to work through by themselves. By working through the layers of pain inside them, their adult self will grow stronger, giving them the ability to be there for this part of them.

If this adult self is not developed and they continue to look towards their caregivers, along with other people, to give them what they can’t give them, they will stay in an invisible prison. For them to liberate themselves, and to actually move on, it will be essential for them to grieve their unmet child needs as this will be a big part of what will allow them to heal their child self/selves.

Author's Bio: 

Teacher, prolific writer, author, and consultant, Oliver JR Cooper, hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation, including love, partnership, self-love, and inner awareness. With over two thousand, two hundred in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice.