The Baby-me Shadow
We walk through life with an injured baby (maybe even an injured fetus) inside us.
This is the baby we were once upon a time.
The one who was really needy, dependent, helpless. The one who experienced inside things that happened on the outside without understanding what is happening and why it feels that way.
This baby could not speak, ask or explain like an adult.
The baby’s needs may have been unmet or met, but much too late.
In the world of the Shadow, we can look at three primary placements in relation to this baby.
First placement: We are okay with our baby. The baby has a place, we like the baby, and we can be in touch with the baby when relevant and not be captured by it often. We are mature people who are also in touch
with that baby.
Second placement: We are over-identified with
the injured baby. We easily feel helpless, powerless, needy, dependent, looking for a responsible adult figure to hold, nourish and support us.
In this placement, we are vulnerable, very vulnerable.
While the injured baby is very much alive, it is in our Persona, and the capable, mature self is less available. It stays in the shadows.
Third placement: The injured baby self is in our shadow. We are independent, mature, take care of ourselves, are capable, and don’t want and certainly don’t need anyone to hold us. It’s difficult for us to be genuinely vulnerable.
We are the ones that the people from the previous group ask to be held and supported by.
Many couples are living on the polarity between the second and third groups.
One partner is more of an injured baby, while the other is more of a
Sometimes, there will be an internal division. For example, one spouse will be the adult in money and work and the other spouse in emotional abilities (I know, a cliché but a common arrangement).
What happens in the clinic and other professional settings when the therapist/facilitator/practitioner over-identifies with the adult position and the client over-identifies with the injured baby?
Criticism, judgment, desire to confront the immature, to mature the client as soon as possible, to educate the client…
In this dynamic, even when we try hard to be empathetic and compassionate, we can’t be fully present with something so much in our Shadow.
At best, we will manage not to judge but remain distant.
What happens in the opposite dynamic?
Criticism, judgment, a desire to confront the disconnected parts, to meet the vulnerability, to break through the rigid defences, the fear of vulnerability and the over-rationality.
We may feel superior, that we know something about how to live more deeply, to the fullness that the clients don’t know…
What can we do to step out and release ourselves from this dynamic?
You know that my first answer is almost always – Do Shadow constellation🌻
This is precisely what I did a short while ago.
The result surprised me and still does.
I gained new empathy, gentleness and sensitivity for the baby-like state, for my children when they become baby-like, for the wounded baby in me.
I feel that I am allowed more rest and vulnerability.
I feel genuinely closer to those of my clients who tend to that baby-like state in a way that thrills, touches and surprises me.
And that’s just a week later.
What is your placement regarding your own wounded baby?
What would you like to happen with your clients and students and in your
personal life with regard to people from the opposite placement?
If you would like to learn to work with your Shadow, please visit the Shadow Constellations training page.