Covid19 Fears and the Inner Family

Covid19 Fears and the Inner Family

Most of us, including me, are feeling some level of fear and worry about the current pandemic.

Some of us may be in fear mainly about the health implications – will I catch this virus? will my loved ones? will lots of people die? people I know and love?

Others may be more worried about the financial implications – will I lose my job or my income? how will I feed my family? will the market crash wipe out my retirement fund? will the entire economy collapse into another Great Depression?

Most of us probably have a mixture of fears and worries. But, who is it exactly – what part of us is it – who feels the fear?

All emotions, including fear, originate with the Inner Child. Other parts of us may evolve and emerge whose only job is to worry. Remember this guy from the Pixar movie Inside Out? (Great movie if you haven’t seen it – I highly recommend it! And, hey, you’ve got plenty of at home time for movies now, right?) Anyhow, this guy, Fear, was afraid of EVERYTHING and always expected the worst to happen. I’ve got an Inner Worrier like that, too – my Catastrophizer, who can imagine all sorts of dire eventualities.

But at the core, it is the Vulnerable Child who feels fear and worry, because a child is dependent and powerless. A child depends upon his or her parents to keep them safe from harm, to get rid of the monsters under the bed and chase away the bogey man.  A child does not yet have the capacity to study the situation rationally and then take appropriate action.

When I find myself spinning out in panic, it means this inner Frightened Child is in control of my thoughts and my actions. The Frightened Child is driving the bus – and that is never a good thing.

It’s normal to feel fear in the situation we now find ourselves in, but smart action – right action – comes from a more reasoned and more adult perspective.

So, how can I stop that fear spiral? How can I get the Frightened Child out of the driver’s seat and put a responsible adult behind the wheel? What would I do if one of my own birth children was feeling afraid and spiraling out in panic? My first instinct as a parent would be to try to calm and soothe them.

I can do the same thing for myself. Enter the Nurturing Parent. My inner Nurturing Parent’s only job is to nurture my Inner Child. It is the Nurturing Parent who speaks calming words to me, just as I would to my own children. She is the one who takes my scared parts into her arms and rocks them and sings to them. It is the Nurturing Parent who, in a situation like the current covid19 pandemic, sees to it that I am getting enough sleep, that I am eating healthy foods and drinking enough water. She is the one who takes me outside for a walk in the fresh air and sunshine. She is the one who says, let’s make some art, let’s journal about your feelings, let’s watch a funny show on TV, let’s listen to some music, let’s talk to that friend who always brightens your day. My Nurturing Parent calms me down and loves the fear out of me.

My Nurturing Parent’s more outwardly active partner is my Protective Parent. My Protective Parent is a Mama Bear who will do everything necessary to protect her cub – my Inner Child (and, by extension, me) – from harm. She is the one who sends my Inner Child to play in her room while she (the Protective Parent) tunes in to just enough news to stay abreast of the situation and the latest recommendations of the CDC and local government officials. My Protective Parent is also the one who says, “Enough. Turn off the news. Get off of Facebook. We know what we need to know and any more of this going down the rabbit hole is detrimental.” My Protective Parent is the one who reminds me to wash my hands, to stay home, to order the few things I need via the internet instead of going into a crowded store. My Protective Parent lets my Inner Child know that she is on the job and the child is safe.

When these two Inner Family parent parts are doing their job, my fears subside and I can make good choices. I can let go of the things I can’t control and do something about the things I can control. I can stay informed without panicking. I can take reasonable actions to take care of myself and my loved ones. I can be mindful of and responsible about my potential impact on my community. I can stay in a place of knowing that, while we are indeed facing challenging times, whatever happens we will come out the other side of this and we’ll be okay.

So, how do you activate and strengthen these Inner Family parent parts? Here are some ideas, in no particular order. Do whatever works best for you and whatever you can do in the moment that fear tries to take over.

  1. Ask for their help. “Hey, I’m spinning out here. My Inner Child is totally freaked out. I need some help from you, Protective Parent and Nurturing Parent.” (You can give them names if you like. Mama Bear and Lovey. Or Superman and Glenda the Good Witch. Whatever works.) You can do this by writing to them in a journal, by talking to them in your head, or you can talk to yourself and your parts out loud (not recommended in public places – but then, we’re not supposed to be in public places much right now.) Let your freaked out self tell the parent parts what you need to feel safe and protected. Let the parent parts, speaking from their own protective and nurturing wisdom, guide you into actions you can take.


  2. Psychologically distance yourself from the immediate experience of fear by imagining that it is one of your own children or your best friend who’s freaked out. Talk to yourself in the 3rd person the same way you might talk to them. “Hey, hey now, Claire. I know you’re scared, but I’m here for you and we’re going to be all right. Come here, let me give you a hug. Let me kiss away your tears. Tell me all about it. Let’s sort this out and make things better.”


  3. Think of role models for nurturing and protection. Imagine the most nurturing person you can think of. Talk to yourself and treat yourself as you imagine that person would. Imagine the most powerful superhero you can think of – the one who always saves the day. Imagine that super-hero has only one job – to protect you. What would they say or do?


  4. Create a visual of your Nurturing and Protective Parents. Cut out or download some images of nurturing and protective people, animals and places and make Nurturing Parent and Protective Parent collages. Put in a child image or even a picture of you as a child. Not keen on collage? Draw a picture of you as a child being protected. Draw another of you as a child being nurtured. You don’t need to be an artist – stick figure drawings work just fine. Write out a conversation or a story about each of your collages or drawings.


Practice these activities often. Practice them even when you’re not freaked out so that your Protective and Nurturing Parents can become more reliable and begin to take the wheel automatically in stressful situations. Just like building muscles, they will grow stronger with repeated use.

An Inner Family Story through SoulCollage®

An Inner Family Story through SoulCollage®

Once upon a time, you were an imaginative, creative, spiritually connected little child for whom nothing seemed impossible. You could daydream your way through the day, build giant castles out of blocks, create a rocket ship and travel to the moon with nothing more than an empty box, create whole worlds with dolls and stuffed animals, dress up and become a princess or Superman, have a tea party with an imaginary friend or two, color outside of the lines and make the trees purple and the sky green, stare at the clouds and see dragons or butterflies or angels. You lived from the heart. Your world was magical and unlimited and ALIVE. Nothing was out of reach or impossible. You could be or do anything you could imagine. That amazing child still lives inside you as your Inner Child – but he or she may need rescuing because . . .


Somewhere along the way, a whole bunch of grown-ups – some with the very best of intentions for you, and others who were just plain mean – slowly started to rein you in. They told you to stop daydreaming because you were going to be late for school. At school they told you that trees were supposed to be green and the sky was supposed to be blue and that you had to color inside the lines. They told you that little boys could not be princesses and that little girls could not be astronauts. They said that you were getting too old for imaginary friends and it was time to grow up and grow out of it already. Very often, they made you feel wrong. They told you, or at least implied, that you were dumb or slow or sloppy or wasteful or uncoordinated or fat or ugly or useless or worthless or bad. The more you grew up, the more rules there were to follow – and the less you seemed to measure up. One day all those outer voices became a voice inside your own head – your Critical Parent – constantly criticizing and reminding you that, in every way imaginable You. Just. Weren’t. Good. Enough.


That once vibrant and unfettered child became very frightened by all those voices and messages. But the voices wouldn’t stop and, with endless repetition, the Frightened Child began to believe the things they said. And so, you stopped daydreaming and building castles in the air. You stopped believing you could be or do anything you wanted. Maybe you began to work really hard at being good, doing what was expected of you, conforming and fitting in. Maybe you gave up on your dream of being an astronaut or a ballerina and became an accountant instead, because it was practical and numbers were the only thing you were ever acknowledged for being good at. You settled, and the inner child felt abandoned. As you gave up on your dreams one by one, that inner child stopped creating and imagining those dreams for you. Why bother? You were no longer listening. The child went into hiding, for the most part. And when they did show up, it was mostly in dysfunctional ways like making you cry at work, indulge in addictive behaviors, or blow off important commitments out of fear or boredom.


But one day, with your help and empowerment, your inner child can learn to say, “ENOUGH!” They can regain their voice and, in no uncertain terms, begin to tell the inner critic to Shut. The. Hell. Up. With all the sound and fury of a toddler throwing a tantrum or a teenager asserting their independence, your Inner Brat can emerge in their full glory. It will be freeing. It will be invigorating. They will tell the inner critic how mean and wrong it is. They will refuse to listen any longer to the heartless words with which the critic has been constantly punishing them. They will assert their right to dream and to be and do whatever their heart desires. They will insist that they are worth it. That they deserve it. But, they will not be able to do it all on their own. Because, after all, the inner child IS just a child. They can help you to dream big and get in touch with your true Heart’s Desire. They can keep you in touch with your own imagination, creativity and spiritual connection. But they need YOU to do the doing. And they will need to be protected and nurtured as they inspire you. Because they’ve been hurt and abused for a very long time. Sometimes even by you.


Your inner child needs a protector to keep them safe. Someone to stand up for them like a mama bear protecting her cub. Someone who can say, “No,” when it is necessary. Someone to create strong and safe and practical boundaries. Someone to deal with the bullies (even when that bully is you). Someone who will always look out for the child’s best interests. An ally. An advocate. Your inner child needs a Protective Parent, and they need you to help with developing one. You may never have gotten the kind of protection you needed while you were growing up, but you can give that protection to your inner child now and heal the wounds of the past. Imagine the very best qualities in every kind of protector you can think of – from the animal kingdom to guardian angels to superheroes – and create within you a protective parent that embodies those qualities and whose sole focus is the inner child. Give the child that safety and protection and they will help you to claim your Heart’s Desire.


Your inner child needs to be nurtured. Their fears need soothing, their hurts need mending, their worth needs affirming. They need to be encouraged. They need to be recognized and celebrated. They need to know they are loved, valued and honored unconditionally. They need someone to hold them close. Someone who will let them feel all their feelings. Someone who won’t turn away from their anger or belittle their fear. Someone who doesn’t push them to be someone they’re not and accepts them just as they are. Someone who will only feed them what is truly nourishing, both literally and metaphorically. Someone who sees to it that they get enough sleep, enough fun, enough bubble baths and massages. Your inner child needs a Nurturing Parent and they need you to help with developing one. You may not have grown up with a good nurturing presence in your life, but you can become one for yourself. Imagine a mother holding a baby to her breast, a bird feeding her newly hatched chicks, Mother Teresa tending to the poor and the ill, or Mr. Rogers zipping up his sweater and telling you, “I like you just the way you are.” Create that presence within yourself to nurture your inner child. When your inner child is loved and nurtured, when the wounds of the past begin to fall away, then the little child will lead you to your Heart’s Desire.


If you’d like to learn how to create a strong inner family and claim your heart’s desire, I invite you to join me and my co-facilitator Beth Breedlove for “Claiming Your Heart’s Desire By Healing Your Inner Child,” June 5 -7 in Burlingame, CA (just south of San Francisco).

During this weekend retreat, using Creative Journal Expressive Arts activities and SoulCollage® card making, you will:

• Learn how to communicate with your inner child
• Learn how to quiet the voice of your inner critic
• Begin to develop a healthy inner family to heal and support your inner child
• Explore, envision and express your current heart’s desire
• Discover what blocks you from your heart’s desire and ways to get unblocked
• Create your own Inner Family SoulCollage® mini-deck to take home for continued healing, growth and exploration
• Create a vision board to take home so you can stay on track to claiming your heart’s desire

For full details and registration, go to

Save $50 on your registration through March 15th!

(These SoulCollage® cards were created using Free Use Images from Unsplash and Pixabay)