May 17, 2023

Embracing the Unloved Child Within: Finding Compassion for Our Past Selves

Embracing the Unloved Child Within: Finding Compassion for Our Past Selves

In this episode, Zach and Jeremy explore therapy's transformative power in reconnecting with the inner child and healing unresolved traumas. They discuss the challenges of developing compassion for one's past self and share personal experiences of...

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In this episode, Zach and Jeremy explore therapy's transformative power in reconnecting with the inner child and healing unresolved traumas. They discuss the challenges of developing compassion for one's past self and share personal experiences of overcoming self-disdain. The conversation highlights the significance of understanding and embracing childhood hardships, acknowledging coping mechanisms, and expressing gratitude for the inner strength that propelled them forward. Reflecting on the journey from self-hate to self-acceptance, the hosts emphasize the healing potential of extending compassion to the inner child and forging a path toward a brighter future.

Topics Discussed:

  1. Getting help connecting with the inner child.
  2. Struggles with finding compassion for one's younger self.
  3. The significance of unresolved traumas and their impact on adult life.
  4. Searching for a picture of oneself as a child and the resistance to facing past experiences.
  5. The power of holding space for compassion and self-reflection.
  6. Recognizing the strength and resilience of the inner child.
  7. The role of coping mechanisms and their impact on personal growth.
  8. Understanding the connection between childhood experiences and present struggles.
  9. Embracing gratitude and appreciation for the journey of healing.
  10. Balancing self-improvement with self-acceptance.

***BONUS CLIP HERE***  Zach and Jeremy share stories of skateboard crashes as children AND adults.


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Jeremy: [00:00:00] Recording, recording, recording. How is your relationship with your inner child? Do you blame them for what's gone wrong in your life? Or is there room for compassion and understanding for all they went through just to keep you alive?

This is a struggle we too have faced and today we'll share the very recent breakthroughs we experienced to help us heal so that hopefully you can too.

So Zach, you know, this, , therapy thing I've been going to for the last few months. Once a month I go down to Seattle. I go through this whole sort of group therapy, , experience. And a lot of the work that we've been doing is trying to connect with your inner child [00:01:00] and deal with any, , unresolved traumas, any issues that happened when you were a kid that, you know, you never quite processed, and now you've processed 'em as an adult and you can move forward with your life. One of the struggles that I've had with this, like everyone in the group, is always talking about the, the relationship they have with that sweet, innocent child and how they're able to have so much compassion for them and how they try to nurture that kid. And I was the weirdo that was like, I fucking hate that kid.

Like he was afraid of everything hid from everything. Like just, just a quitter, like gave, just gave up constantly. And so I've had this like disdain for myself as a child. And so I'm in a, I'm in a therapy session with the facilitator today and. We come around to this topic and she's like, all right, well, do you have a picture of yourself?

Cause I was sharing, and I know you'll tell this story in a minute, I was sharing about how you hold a picture of, of yourself and talk to the childhood version of you. And she's like, okay, find a picture of yourself as a child. And [00:02:00] I was like, I honestly, like, I don't have one. Like I, I looked on my phone on Facebook, I must have spent like 10 minutes looking for a picture of me as a child, because I don't wanna see that kid.

I don't wanna face all of that stuff. Right.

Zach: I love that you looked in the one place that didn't exist when you were a child. Facebook and

Jeremy: Well, but I was looking for like, my mom has posted pictures of me as a kid, or maybe there's some throwback that I thought was funny cuz I was wearing silly

pants or

Zach: well, clearly your mom didn't have much like for that kid either.

Jeremy: So, uh, so we're doing the work and, and I'm talking about how great I'm doing now. , I'm feeling so good, , But that I'm still haunted by this thing this childhood issue that I needed to get over. And even as I was articulating it to her, I could feel a, a glimmer of compassion that I hadn't felt for that version of me. Probably ever, because I mean, that's really when I was a kid, when I was, , probably seven or eight is probably when I started hating myself the most.

, but I started to have compassion for that kid and realizing like how much fear he lived with and how [00:03:00] much was going on for him at the time. And it was crazy because, she sort of , knows the story I've told her about all the stuff that, that happened to me. Then as I'm living in that compassion, just holding space for it, just allowing it to be, she's feeding me all this information about like, how strong was that kid to figure out, ways to cope, ways to get through that fear,

like that kid got you here. Do you have any gratitude for him? And I just, you know, of course Water Works crying, like totally cracked, open this compassion for myself that I didn't have before. And so now of course, my homework assignment is once again, be like Zach, put a picture up of myself as a kid and talk nicely to that kid and tell him how great he is and how awesome things are gonna turn out.

Zach: You always think that I don't know what I'm talking about, and then like six months later you're like, fuck, he was right. And then it takes you another six months to like admit it.

Jeremy: No, and, and this is one I've known all along that you were right about it. I just haven't been ready to face it. I've been in my comfort zone of hating myself [00:04:00] as a kid, and that's just been fine. He's, he's over in the closet locked up, or he can't hurt anybody,

Zach: he, he didn't have enough hate. He needed just a little bit more.

Jeremy: bit more.


needed a, he needed a little more neglect and a little more isolation.

Zach: You came in every now and again and you were like, Hey, oh, you think I'm gonna pay attention to you? Nope. I'm just gonna turn that knife a little bit further.

Jeremy: that's right.

Zach: I think that's an incredible thing that you've done because kids that we were, just trying to survive, right? Like the life that they had, they were just trying to survive, and you cannot expect a child. To be able to navigate life. [00:05:00] And God knows, like I did, like I had to navigate a difficult one, but you can't expect them to do that.

And like I'm really happy for you to have had that moment for that kid because that kid clearly needed a little bit of compassion. Well again, anywhere else. And I think the knife had been turned far enough.

Jeremy: Mm-hmm.

Zach: but it is incredibly healing too, to realize that like. What you're hating, like you hate that kid.

The fucking kid is you, which means you still hate you even though you're in the best possible place you could be in your life right now. You still hate a part of who you are,


and that's never gonna sit well. Like it's always gonna be dragging behind you. I mean, it'll be like, you know, a, a super dumb Yoda hanging off your back while you're doing your Jedi training.

Jeremy: a super dumb Yoda.

Zach: And I, I make the Star Wars reference because , that is literally why I love Star Wars so much is because of that kid, because that kid [00:06:00] had nothing, was eating raw hamburger, had no parents around, you know, four years old, five years old. And the one time I was able to connect with my mother.

Was when she put on Star Wars and she sat down and watched it with me, . And then the day I got taken away, I was watching Star Wars. And the day I, my dad came and got me from all of that shit, I was watching Star Wars. , that is my coping mechanism, right? And, and that's just, and I fell in love with it.

I still love it to this day,

Jeremy: Yep.

Zach: Somebody said something to me the other day about, , being 43 years old and liking Star Wars and, and how it was not exactly cool. And I was like, I don't fucking care because that's what got that kid through a lot of shit in my life and I'm gonna continue to love it.

But like that kid to love Star Wars, allowing that kid to be fearful, anxious, and telling that kid that it's okay, like, Because that is me. It's part of me. I'm happy and healthy now, but I wasn't [00:07:00] always.

Jeremy: See, and that, it's interesting you tell that, you tell it that way because, uh, that was what I shared with my, , I'll just call our therapist, was that so much of the work that I've tried to do in the past focused on trying to heal the inner child, but the adult version of me was still a fuck up, like st like just mentally screwed, like dealing with emotion, like all the stuff.

And so there was no way I could go back to that kid and go. Hey kid, it's gonna be all right because inside I felt like I'm still fucked up. Like, you're not gonna be be, you're not gonna be all right. You're gonna struggle with this shit until the day you die. Sucks to be you, but man, it's gonna be a horrible ride. And so I was telling her today, I was like, because I'm so good now because I can look at me now, I can start to peel back the, the layers and go, okay, let's, let's dive back a little more so that we can show, , 20 year old version of me. Hey, you're gonna be okay. 15 year old version of me. Hey, you're gonna be okay.

10 year old and so on, like I'm able to go back piece by piece because I now have the evidence. [00:08:00] But when you're trying to heal a past version of you and the current version of you is a fucking mess, that's a tall task.

Zach: It absolutely is. But on the flip side, like I'm, I'm gonna take a little bit of a different approach. So e even in that healing process as an adult, when you're still fucked up and you're trying to get better, a lot of the shit came from childhood, right? You need to be able to look at that kid and you need to be able to look at what he went through.

And be compassionate about it to the point where you can understand what happened

Jeremy: Mm-hmm.

Zach: and why you are the way you are now. Like, why is my anxiety so crazy about like, uh, about people leaving me? And guess what, thanks mom. That was great. Thanks for, thanks for putting that on me. , so even if you're not totally great, like looking at that childhood, Pretending to have compassion, pretending to have understanding, like just getting to that space so you can look at what they went through and what, they had to deal with and how you got to the [00:09:00] way you are.

It's gonna be incredibly helpful. And then again, you can go back and revisit later and be like, Hey, hey, thanks for giving me the answer. I fixed my shit. Now I can be nice to you again.

Jeremy: And that's exactly where, where I'm at with this, because. I understood, right? Like when I looked back, I was like, I get it logically cool, but still like you should have done more, right? Like everyone said, you were so smart. Everyone said you had so much potential. You squandered it. All the things that had just been rattling around in my head as a kid at that time that still just lived there. I wasn't able to have compassion. I, I logically put it together. I get the way I get why I do the things I do as an adult because of that. But I didn't have the compassion piece until like today when I had this, this breakthrough.

So your point is 100% valid. Like it is important to do that work and it's, it, I think it's probably more difficult to go backwards, But if you struggle like I did, to have compassion for that [00:10:00] childhood version of you, maybe it's because you don't have the confidence yet to sell them on the story that things actually are gonna be okay

Zach: And then someday you'll get to the point where you've got a picture of yourself in your living room like I do.

Jeremy: over the mantle.

Zach: No, no. It's on the bookshelf next to the tv. And it came in really handy too. I just quick side note, my daughter looks just like me, right? And if you look at a picture of me as a child, it's her with. Sa same face. And she gave me shit one day. She's like, dad, I don't want your nose. Like, she's like, I like your, the rest of the face is good, but like I just, if I get, if I had your nose, I'd be screwed.

And I was like, well, you know, noses grow our entire lives, right? So like, my nose didn't look like this when I was your age. And she ran to the picture in the living room and she just screamed, oh my God, I'm gonna have your nose. So, you know, dual purpose, right? I get my I I e, I soothe that inner child [00:11:00] and I cause my daughter a little bit of stress.

Jeremy: So, so that's awesome. You've got all this compassion, you've got the humor, , the comic relief with your kid. Is it always roses? Is it, is it always rainbows and unicorns?

Zach: No, never. Because even at this age, right, I still make mistakes. I'm human, I still make poor decisions. I still make decisions based out of fear , as that kid, I made a bunch of decisions. That again, I wouldn't expect any child to have to make those decisions. Like my case was different than most, right?

I wouldn't have to, I wouldn't expect that. But some of the decisions I made just ended poorly and I really do look back at them and I wonder how my life would've been different had I not made that decision. I can point to, , when I was in a little bit older, right? . Not the age of the picture that's on my bookshelf, but you know, a little bit older when I decided I'm too cool for school and I didn't go to school and I dropped out,[00:12:00] you know, I look back, I'm like, what the fuck was wrong with you?

And then I can trace all of these issues that have followed me for years and years and years and years based on that one decision. And I literally have this image in my head of, , jumping in the time machine has to be DeLorean,

Jeremy: Mm. Of course.

Zach: going back and just drop, kicking the shit outta myself. Be like, what, what's wrong with you?

And then that's where the, the practice of, of, you know, being compassionate for that, that kid, that person, that human being

Jeremy: Mm-hmm.

Zach: who makes mistakes. Who learns the hard way sometimes, ,

and you just let it be right again. I wouldn't be who I am today. Happy, healthy living, pretty much my best life ever. If I hadn't gone through all the things that I went through and they sucked but then , you just look at like all the things you went through. We were just trying to survive. don't know about you, like, but growing up in the eighties , and nineties, Didn't have it.

Like kids today, like I know exactly where my daughter is at all times, no [00:13:00] matter what because of the tag on her backpack or the phone that's in her pocket and she's never away from adult sup supervision. Like I was 17 years old up in the graveyard drinking beers. , it's a very different world.

, And you gotta recognize that because I'm looking at it through the lens of today's world as well and going like, Hey, , why did you do those things when it was a totally different time? , wearing a seatbelt wasn't even a wall

Jeremy: right. Uh, I don't think they were even in cars when we were kids until later into our childhoods, but also like parents just didn't know what we know now. , the information was not as widely available. So there's cases like yours where there was extreme neglect and extreme failures on behalf of your parents.

There's my situation where my parents were parents in the eighties, right?

Like there was some problems, , but it was your standard garden variety trauma, right? Like I didn't go through anything more extreme than most people.

And that was part of what my resentment [00:14:00] toward that kid was, is why couldn't you handle that better? ? But when I think about like my own 8, 9, 10 year old trying to figure out how to fix it on their own, because that was largely what it meant to be a kid in the eighties, was do it on your own.

Go outside, get home from school. Be home in time for dinner. Don't care where you're, don't care what you do, right? You're just on your own figuring life out. So of course, like there's a lot of resentment for not getting it right. And so that's where I carry a lot, a lot of that forward as an adult

Zach: and everyone's pain and suffering, like what they went through is unique and it's valid, so, so please remember that too. Like, you know, you look at my life compared to your life and yeah, it was a little bit tougher, But yours was no less valid, right? You were still a child that had to figure shit out on your own in, in a lot of those situations.

So like, I don't care if you had like extreme trauma, cuz there's people who had it way worse than me or you had a pretty standard garden variety trauma [00:15:00] growing up. Like you're still a fucking child and you can't understand those scenarios like, In all of them, like we just survived. You just, oh. Oh. Uh, I actually woke up this morning.

Cool. That's awesome. That's awesome. I'm gonna go get some candy now.

Jeremy: Yeah. I don't think anybody gets outta childhood without a few bumps and bruises on the way to, to try and sort out for the rest of their lives.

Zach: So to the four people on this podcast today, you, me, and the inner child of each of us, I'm sorry.

Like we just, we ranted a little bit. We went a little crazy. It was totally a couple of stories, but for good reason, right? Like we were normal children. there's pain, there's suffering there. Like we all have that resentment. We all have something going on there. But the day I figured out how to be nice to that kid, the day that I was able to tell that kid, it's all gonna be okay.

Like the healing that I went through went through the roof because I, I could stop blaming that little [00:16:00] fuck for screwing me up

Jeremy: Yeah.

Zach: and instead I could console him and let him know things were gonna be better. So I just can't stress enough like how proud I am of you for breaking through that moment. And having that compassion for that kid because it's gonna change your life.

And to anyone listening, if you're in anywhere in that journey of looking at that child and you don't have compassion, you think he's a jerk. You want to go drop , kick him. You love him. You love everything that he did for you and, and you thank him wherever you are in that journey, like I just encourage everyone to really, I know, I know this sounds super weird, but like really get to know that kid.

Really go back and understand that kid love that kid and, and bring them along for the ride cuz they are you. But at the same time, they're a totally separate person. Have some love, caring, compassion for that kid.

Jeremy: All right, well, hopefully our stories of pain and trauma and triumph have, uh, somehow you've [00:17:00] related with or learned something from, and that can help you with your own relationship, with your own inner child. As I'm learning, it's, uh, an incredibly powerful thing to work on and, uh, I'm excited to see where it goes from here.

But that is gonna do it for this episode of the Fitness. Thank you so much for listening. We'll share some more tools and and strategies you can use to work on your relationship with your inner child. That'll be available in our newsletter, which you can subscribe, and that's where we'll be back in just a few days with a brand new episode. Thanks for listening.

Zach: See everyone