by Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C

Part Four (Continued)

More Subtle Causes of Inner Secrets

When a child's identity, worth in body, mind, soul and imagination, are disregarded or trampled, the bewildering emotional pain is too much for most children to bear. Because they are children, they have no criteria for behavior, no comparison, no frame of reference. They believe that this is the way the world is. And, of course, this is the way their world is. They will accept as true and valid the destructive messages pouring into them and struggle to find a way to survive their pain.

Some methods of destroying a child's worth are:

  • To belittle a child's thinking.
  • To disparage a child's natural desires and behaviors.
  • To neglect or isolate a child.
  • To break promises.
  • To tell fantasies as if they were true.
  • To tease unrelentingly.
  • To not believe a child who says friends, teachers, neighbors or strangers are harassing her or him.
  • To punish a child for telling his or her experience and/or telling the child his or her experience did not happen.

Today sensational, exaggerated language is often used in advertising, news and conversation to make an emotional point.

In the context of an assaulted child's experience, the roots of inner secrets are genuinely intolerable. Intolerable means truly unendurable. The child cannot stay alive and sane and experience what is intolerable.

When stress, pain, horror, confusion, bewilderment and fear are both intolerable and inescapable there are usually two choices. The situation must end or the child must die or go insane.

The creative child finds a third choice. The child who will survive blocks awareness. Intolerable information becomes a well-guarded secret.

The secret is guarded until the child is strong enough, mature enough, has enough support and information, to retrieve his lost experience and live a more full life.

If you are an overeater, the darkness and compulsive behaviors around your inner secrets are the devices that have saved your life. It takes a lot of trust and courage to know that you can survive without them. When you rally your trust and courage to begin to explore your own darkness you embark on the next phase of your triumphant journey.


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Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C., licensed by the State of California in 1980, is a Marriage, Family, Child Counselor (License #15563). She has a private practice in Los Angeles where she works with adult individuals and couples. She specializes in working with people with eating disorders and with people who are trying to understand and help a loved on who has an eating disorder.

Contact Information:
10573 West Pico Blvd. Suite 20
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 474-4165 phone
(310) 474-7248 fax

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