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CHILDHOOD WOUNDING & THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME

May 15, 2021

Summary of the highlights and additions of the May 12th workshop with the Brussels Imagination Club.


I am grateful for the opportunity given by the Brussels Imagination Club to run an experiment about Inner Child Work.

The subject in itself, “Inner Child Work” seems to frighten many people. Because of its vulnerable character, it makes them feel unsafe. Because they fear revealing something about themselves. So, I tried another type of title i.e.  “Childhood Wounding and the Imposter Syndrome”. And yes, that seems to attract attention. You know what? Let me know why you think that this title is implying a safer place to hold this topic… send me a message.


Now, many successful people, professionals and others, suffer from anxiety and self doubt despite evidence of success of the work they deliver. Typically for the imposter syndrome is that these successful people  are afraid to be exposed as a fraude because they believe that others find them more talented and gifted than they believe they really are. These successful people are also afraid of making mistakes, because that will confirm their believed incompetence. As they doubt their own talents and capabilities, these anxieties make them miss the next promotion or a challenging project that would lead to a promotion. And performance evaluations make them feel very nervous because they fear to be unmasked.


Where does this fear and self doubt come from? And how can it be remediated? What makes the imposter syndrome resonate with you? And what makes you think you have the imposter syndrome? 

Research indicates personality traits and family background, such as attachment patterns are often at the basis of these self doubts. As an Inner Child Work practitioner I’ll look, of course, at the family background. 


Through a personal experience during my coach mentoring sessions when I was preparing for my ICF certification, I came in contact with the inner child work, documented by Pat Wyman in her methodology 3keys-to-Self-Understanding. It would take too long to elaborate on this methodology now. I guess a new workshop will be much better to unfold the power of this inner work approach. Stay tuned with the upcoming “Meet and Foster your Inner Child” workshop series to find out more.


Through the years I became more and more convinced that the messages we receive in our childhood shape our thinking in our adult life… and that we are unaware of it. Our primary care takers, mostly our parents try their best to educate us to the best of their abilities. In seriously dysfunctional families it is obvious that hurting messages are delivered. But even for highly educated people, coming out of apparently well functioning families, wounding messaging has taken place. Looking at myself, I always thought that I had a wonderful childhood, living in a prosperous family. Being the fourth in a family of five children born in a time span of six years, has never been a worry in my adult life...my conscious adult life. My mother was a loving person who cared very much for us. And sometimes, though, raising a pack of five kids can create frustration and stress. It is obvious that shouting correcting and desperate messages alleviate the sender. Unfortunately, the child, until it's teens, takes these messages as the truth about him/herself and takes them into adulthood, being determinative for it’s thinking and beliefs.

These wounding messages create programs that are stored in the right part of the brain (the brain is here represented in a simplified way for the purpose of this topic) which contains subconscious material. 

These programs are also referred to as triggers. They consist of following components: 

  • Event or incident: person, meeting, posture, noise, smell,...

  • Feeling and emotion: nogood, small, fear, alone, stupid,...

  • Conclusions: I am stupid, ugly, small, not clever, bad, unwanted, ...

  • Defense system traits (coping) translate into behaviour and needs: perfectionism, performing, being funny, being liked and accepted...

  • Body memories: stomach crunch, weight on chest, sweating, elevated heart beat,...


Being stored in the right part of the brain, where there is no notion of time, these programs, when triggered by a similar event or incident in adulthood, act the same way as during childhood, i.e. they deliver the same feeling, emotions and conclusions. At the same time, the left part of the brain, containing conscious material such as language and analysis, shuts down. After a while the left brain lights up again and leaves us with thoughts like “how could this happen?”, “why did I say that?”, or “why didn’t I resist him/her?”... And that has been at the basis of my personal imposter syndrome. Practicing inner child work with the anger work component alleviated my anxieties in my professional life. Leading into feelings of liberation and increased self confidence. 


Just to be clear. The anger work component is not about parental bashing or parental blaming. Our parents or other primary caretakers had also their own triggers installed during their education, and same goes for their parents, etc… (as mentioned by a participant, “like a golden thread passing on from generation to generation”). Inner child work clients report  an improved relationship with their parents based on better understanding. And as understanding leads to respect, respect leads to love… if we choose to want to understand the other. 

Whereas in the past, our choices - highschool education, partner, career - were controlled by the subconscious programs and thus out of our control, we can empower ourselves to make another choice, a conscious choice for the rest of our - only one - life. 


During the workshop an exercise helped the participants to connect with one of their subconscious programs and how to shift into their resourceful adult, addressing the child (symbol of subconscious programming) with compassion, understanding, respect and love, and affirming the child in its values and worths.


If you want to understand where your limiting beliefs originate from and what you can do about it to remediate them, follow me on social media for more workshops and discussions about this great inner child work.


If you were a participant, then I say thank you for your involvement and valuable feedback, and I hope to see you soon to further explore this topic.