With so much going on in the world right now, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little anxious. Whether you’ve lived with anxiety your whole life or are experiencing it for the first time, dealing with mental health issues against such a tumultuous backdrop is always going to be difficult.
With that being said, we’re lucky to live in a world where we have numerous anxiety techniques and coping methods at our fingertips. Across the internet and social media you’ll find a whole host of informative content about coping with and calming anxiety; here at Stylist, we’re always looking for new techniques to try.
Most recently, the reparenting technique highlighted by The Anxiety Coach Lorraine Pascale caught our attention. In light of everything going on around the world, Pascale offered her “reparenting” approach as a way to help anxiety sufferers to cope with their anxious thoughts and process the emotions they were feeling.
“There are many ways of healing and cultivating more self-respect and self-love, and there are many different types of therapy and healing that use the concept in different ways,” Pascale tells Stylist.
To Pascale, reparenting simply means taking a step back and addressing our “inner child,” as our anxieties often stem from our childhood experiences – most specifically, the needs that were not met, such as learning we’re ‘not good enough’ or ‘haven’t worked hard enough’.
“As a child we learn not to honour our feelings and emotions, because we are often told not to,” Pascale says. “We can become people pleasers as we are always focused on everyone else’s wants rather than our own.
“Inner child work is about becoming the parent. Speaking to our inner child gently, checking it and seeing what the child wants and acknowledging thoughts, feelings, emotions and needs the way they may not have been at times as a child.
“So there may be a time when we are feeling super anxious, and instead of reaching for things which may be unhealthy, we can talk to ourselves and start calming ourselves down.”
How to use the reparenting technique
The reparenting technique may sound complicated, but it’s relatively simple when you get down to it. At its core, reparenting is about paying attention to your inner child and sitting with the uncomfortable, anxious feelings that might be coming from that part of you. It’s important to note that, if you had a particularly traumatic childhood, or you don’t feel safe revisiting that part of your life, this technique might not be for you.
The concept of an inner child comes from the work of psychologist Carl Jung, and refers to the childlike aspect of our unconscious. Typically, your inner child reflects the child we once were, including the things we were taught to think about ourselves by adults (e.g. you don’t work hard enough) and the emotions we were taught to repress (e.g. anger).
In a recent video posted on her IGTV, Pascale details the process of ‘reparenting’ – and provides a step-by-step guide for using it to deal with anxiety. To begin with, she recommends picturing a younger version of yourself (you can pick the age you want to imagine) and pick out specific details about the scene – where you’re sitting, what you’re wearing, how your hair looks, etc. After that, you can begin the process of speaking to your inner child.
“You go in as yourself to that little child, and you sit next to her, and you can look at her lovingly, and tell her that you’re there for her now,” Pascale explains. “You’re talking to this anxious child and you can say ‘I’m so sorry you feel anxious, I’m here for you, I love you. You’re good enough’.”
Pascale also explains that doing this allows you to give “space” to your anxiety. Although she acknowledges that sometimes we need to deal with anxiety in the moment and rid ourselves of the feeling as soon as possible, other times, she recommends sitting with the discomfort, and allowing ourselves to process how we’re really feeling.
“If you had your own children and they’re anxious, you don’t want to shoo them away,” Pascale highlights. “You just want to put your arms around them and say ‘hey, I’m here’.”
She continues: “Sometimes, because we people-please so much, we neglect to look after our inner child, and we neglect to look after our real needs. We’re so anxious focusing on other people and on doing the right thing; we’re so focused outward that we don’t really take care of ourselves, when it’s ourselves that needs a hug”.
Essentially, reparenting helps you to develop a sense of compassion towards the more vulnerable side of yourself – and allows you to accept and sit with the feelings of anxiety you’re experiencing.
Now more than ever, being able to practice self-compassion and self-love is so important. Whether you practise reparenting or just decide to show yourself a little bit of kindness, the ability to treat ourselves with love and understanding is one we should always strive to improve.