Susan Anderson © 1997, 2000, 2010


Here comes an eye-opening non-linear tool – the Outer Child Inventory – a kaleidoscopic list of truisms, encapsulated awareness, and little telegrams of insight associated with your outer child. Some traits are common to all, while others remind us more of our friends or enemies. The truisms are presented randomly, reflecting the illogical thinking of the outer child to help you better spot its maneuvers and find its hiding places. The list is by no means exhaustive and not all items will relate to you, but let them inspire you to identify your own unique outer child characteristics. Submit them to me and add to the growing data base.

Batten down the hatches, fasten your seat belt, and get ready for a bumpy ride. Outer Child doesn’t appreciate having its inventory taken.

  1. Outer Child is the selfish, pig headed, self-centered part of all of us.
  2. Outer Child encompasses all of the outward signs of your inner child’s vulnerability – the scars, the warts, the defenses that manifest outwardly.
  3. Outer Child actively ignores you, especially when you try to tell it what to do, like “Go to the gym.” Outer just goes right on eating potato chips and lounging in front of the television.
  4. Outer Child is sandwiched between the inner child and the adult

Inner child – OUTER CHILD – Adult.

    1. Outer Child interferes between Big You and Little You. It blocks the perfectly decent relationship you could otherwise have with your self. In other words, it blocks self-love.
    2. Outer Child steps right in and takes over when we least expect it. Even if you had every intention of handling a particular situation in a mature, adult manner, Outer child handles things its own way, leaving you holding the bag. Like, when you decide to calmly express a grievance to a friend, Outer swoops in bringing up the past and shouting.
    3. Outer Child is developmentally between eight and twelve. Self-centeredness is age-appropriate for Outer child.
    4. Outer Child is developmentally old enough to have its own little executive ego (much to our chagrin). It is old enough to forcefully exercise its will, but it is not old enough to understand consequences, let alone, the rights and feelings of others. (Inner Child isn’t old enough to have its own ego, so has to appropriate ours).
    5. Outer Child wears many disguises, especially in public. Since other people’s Outer children are usually well hidden, you may have thought you were the only one with an Outer child.
    6. Outer Child is the hidden “Chuckie” of the personality. Even the nicest people we know can act like an eight year old with a full blown conduct disorder (perhaps not in public) when they feel rejected, dismissed, abandoned.
    7. Outer Child is most able to dominate your personality when you’re going through a vulnerable time. Stress energizes Outer Child. People with extremely stressful, traumatic childhoods tend to have very stressed out inner children and therefore very active Outer children. Some people are ALL Outer Child.
    8. Outer Child throws temper tantrums and goes off in tirades if feels even slightly criticized, rejected, or abandoned.
    9. Outer Child is emotionally disturbed at times. Outer’s excuse is that it’s only reacting to what you’ve been through (this may be true), but don’t blame Outer; it doesn’t take well to criticism.
    10. Outer Child blames its faults on your mate. It projects your unacceptable traits onto your mate.
    11. Outer Child also projects its shortcomings onto your children.
    12. Outer Child has OPD – obnoxious personality disorder.
    13. Outer Child can become so obstreperous at times, it makes you wish there was a place you could ship it off to called, “Outer Child Care.”
    14. Outer Child goes in for quick fixes and feeds its emotional hunger with things like shopping, sex, sugar that in the end leave you more in-need.
    15. Outer Child is negatively attracted to the faults of others. Criticizing others is one of Outer’s most socially off-putting features.
    16. Outer Child is famous for “taking other people’s inventory.”
    17. Outer Child is Queen of Da Nile. Denial is Outer’s favorite defense. If all else fails, just deny it.
    18. Outer Child needs you to stay in denial so that it can continue doing what it’s doing.
    19. Outer Child takes revenge against the Self. It sees itself apart from Self and creates a schism between Big You and Little You whenever an opening presents itself – that is, whenever you lose touch with your feelings.
    20. Outer Child doesn’t like to do things that are good for you.
    21. Outer Child would rather do something that will make you fat or broke than thin or fiscally responsible.
    22. Outer Child is a hedonist.
    23. Outer Child talks about your friends behind their back.
    24. Outer Child hates it when your friends talk about you behind your back.
    25. Outer Child loves to tattle. Badmouthing someone and exposing their shortcomings is deeply satisfying to Outer Child.
    26. Outer Child can see everybody else’s shortcomings but its own.
    27. Outer Child thrives on chaos, loves crisis, and lives to create drama.
    28. Outer Child enjoys playing the victim, that is, when not playing the martyr.
    29. Outer Child distracts you when you’re trying to get something done.
    30. Outer Child is a world class procrastinator.
    31. Outer Child makes huge messes that take forever to clean up.
    32. Outer Child makes you late for appointments.
    33. Outer Child loses things and blames it one of your children.
    34. Outer Child can find an excuse for anything.
    35. Outer Child tries to look cool and makes you look foolish.
    36. Outer Child is the ‘yes but’ of the personality.
    37. Outer Child is reactive rather than active or reflective. It is defensive rather than open to feedback, self-justifying rather than self-aware.
    38. Outer Child explodes when it encounters difficulties with your abilities, such as when you’re trying to assemble the new barbeque grill. It’s acting out your inner child’s feelings of inadequacy – the latent fear of being deemed unworthy of love and left behind -a primitive fear residual of our Clan-of-the-Cave-Bear days when banishment meant death.
    39. Outer Child is never wrong and must never be told so, or it will bite someone’s head off.
    40. Outer Child hates asking for either help or directions. It would rather get you frustrated or lost.
    41. Outer Child acts like a tyrant, but is secretly a coward, afraid to assert its needs appropriately.
    42. Outer Child splits its personality between home and office. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – nice at work, a tyrant at home (or vise versa).
    43. Outer Child under-reacts when a friend steps on your toes. Outer pretends to be gracious: “Oh, that’s all right…” but holds onto the anger for the next twenty years.
    44. Outer Child specializes in blame. If it has an uncomfortable feeling, somebody must be at fault.
    45. Outer Child reacts to all pain with anger. Anger is secondary emotion. When you stub your toe, it hurts. Pain. But then you scream in anger because you’re angry at the pain. Outer Child reacts to emotional pain this way also (i.e. your lover is withholding). Outer displaces its anger at the person triggering it or any inanimate object that gets in your way.

Anger is Outer’s favorite emotion, because anger is so energizing. And self-justifying.

    1. Outer Child is charged to DO something about anything that makes you angry. Anger is Outer’s excuse to strike out. It can become blood thirsty, its rampage fueled by adrenaline and other brain chemicals that increase your impulsivity and decrease your reasoning capacity.
    2. Outer uses crying as a manipulation. But this ploy is so automatic, primitive, and unconscious, that if you call out Outer on it, it becomes indignant and cries louder.
    3. Outer Child criticizes others to keep the heat off of itself.
    4. Outer Child has a phony laugh to cover up stray feelings.
    5. Outer Child doesn’t have enough self-control to delay gratification and do the right thing. Buy now, pay tomorrow. Cookies now, diet tomorrow.
    6. Outer Child’s mission is to avoid having to feel inner child’s feelings, especially feelings like hurt, loneliness, disappointment or abandonment.
    7. Outer Child uses diversionary tactics to hide your vulnerability, like making jokes or creating chaos.
    8. Outer Child can’t stand waiting, especially when waiting for a new lover to call.
    9. Outer Child takes your lovers as emotional hostages.
    10. Outer Child expects a new lover to compensate it for all of the hurts and betrayals inflicted by old relationships dating all the way back to childhood.
    11. Outer Child springs into action when it doesn’t get its needs met for acceptance and approval. It will demand, defy, deceive, ignore, balk, manipulate, seduce, pout, whine, and retaliate when it can’t gain someone’s disapproval. It doesn’t see this as a contradiction.
    12. Outer Child uses people places and things as props on its melodramatic stage.
    13. Outer Child takes internal feelings and creates circumstances in the outside world that allow you to externalize them.
    14. Outer Child insists on driving a jalopy which breaks down a lot, and you get to blame your internal feelings of helplessness and frustration on the incompetence of your mechanic.
    15. Outer Child is hooked on a lover who cheats, so when you catch him, rather move on, you revel in the right to scream your deepest despairs at him. You stay in the relationship to reenact your longstanding angst of unrequited love with a live person – a substitute for the parent who made you feel abandoned in childhood.
    16. Outer Child has a favorite feeling: anger. In fact, all of the other feelings like sadness, hurt, loneliness…well, they all make Outer angry.
    17. Outer Child’s constant trouble-making motivates you to get stronger – to become a better adult. That’s how your adult self gains power – by wresting it away from
    18. Outer.
    19. Outer Child is an actor. Herein lays the challenge of dealing with Outer child. Is it the real you or your Outer child disguised as you?
    20. Outer Child has a covert agenda: it works unconsciously to maintain your patterns. Becoming aware of your Outer child defenses helps you readjust the mechanisms causing the dysfunction. Outer reacts to this by trying even harder to reinstate these patterns.
    21. Outer Child has a hole in its pocket when it comes to either anger or money. Outer must spend it.
    22. Outer Child wants what it wants immediately. Yesterday.
    23. Outer Child gets right in the middle when we try to start a new relationship. It becomes over-reactive, over- demanding, over-needy.
    24. Outer Child may be found in our mates. Sometimes we marry a person who acts out our own forbidden Outer child wishes – sometimes this boomerangs and our mate’s Outer acts out against US.
    25. Outer Child may be found in our children’s behavior. When we get into power struggles with our actual children, we find ourselves battling our own Outer child (because our real-life children aggravate our hidden nemesis). Sometimes we secretly encourage our real children to fulfill our hidden Outer child needs. They act out the anger we can’t own up to.
    26. Outer Child strives for its own self interest while pretending to protect Little You. But Outer wants one thing only – its own way.
    27. Outer Child can be very cunning, putting its best foot forward when pursuing a new partner. It can act the picture of altruism, decency, kindness, and tolerance.
    28. Outer Child can also be seductive, funny, charming, full of life, and pretends to be interested in the other person’s feelings. Then when Outer succeeds in catching its prey, it suddenly becomes cold, critical, unloving, and sexually withholding. Outer makes us pity the person willing to love us.
    29. Outer Child gets a headache just on time for the boudoir.
    30. Outer Child is a people pleaser with ulterior motives. It will give others the shirt off your back. But what does it expect in return? Everything.
    31. Outer Child is not old enough to care about others (in spite of its considerable acting skills). Only the adult can do that.
    32. Outer Child tests the people it looks to for security – to the limits.
    33. Outer Child tests new significant others with emotional games. One of its favorite is playing hard-to-get. Outer child thinks hard-to-get makes it more loveable, even when it leaves your partner confused and agitated.
    34. Outer Child is the addict, the alcoholic, the one who runs at the mouth, runs up your credit cards – the one who overdoes everything.
    35. Outer Child enjoys breaking rules. Your best friends may have very dominant Outer children, which makes them a lot of fun to hang out with.
    36. Outer Child strives for independence through misguided efforts like power-struggling with you. You may wish that someday your Outer child would actually become settled enough to leave home. Wish away, but don’t count on it.
    37. Outer Child gains strength during dormant periods when you’re between relationships. Then, when you become interested in a new person, Outer swoops in and acts out your insecurity in convoluted, embarrassing ways that jeopardize everything.
    38. Outer Child tries to defeat the two major tasks of intimacy: Task one is to get your inner child to become friends with your mate’s inner child. Task two is to make sure you don’t take each other’s Outer children too personally. But Outer prefers to beat up on your mate’s inner child and goes head to head with her Outer child.
    39. Outer Child locks horns with your mate’s Outer child. The two Outer children try to control each other’s behavior, which is hopeless and can become very loud. Your best bet is to find something for your Outer children to do other than interfere in the relationship. If you can’t ignore them, send them out to play.
    40. Outer Child has enough vanity and pride to try to conquer an emotionally dangerous lover, one who is potentially rejecting, distancing, and abandoning.
    41. Outer Child identifies with Groucho Marx: It would never join any club that would have you as a member.
    42. Outer Child thinks emotionally unavailable people are sexy.
    43. Outer Child is attracted to people’s form rather than substance. Outer finds status more attractive than integrity or kindness.
    44. Outer Child can’t resist the emotional candy of a hard-to-get-lover. This goes against what’s good for your inner child who needs someone capable of giving love, nurturance, and commitment. But then, since when does Outer Child care about what’s good for Inner Child?
    45. Outer Child refuses to learn from mistakes. It insists upon ‘doing the same things over and over and expecting different results’ (slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous).
    46. Outer Child gained strength during times of isolation, loss, disappointment, and abandonment – when there was no one available to mitigate your pain. That’s when
    47. Outer child stepped up its defense mechanisms.
    48. Outer Child thrives on unconsciousness.
    49. Outer Child’s engine is driven by unconscious motivation.
    50. Outer Child becomes most powerful when there is an internal disconnect between head and heart – between your Adult Self and Inner Child.
    51. Outer Child believes laws and ethics are for everybody else.
    52. Outer Child obeys rules only to avoid getting caught.
    53. Outer Child can dish it out but can’t take it.
    54. Outer Child can be holier than thou.
    55. Outer Child loves chocolate and convinces you that it’s good for your heart. Likewise with wine.
    56. Outer Child beats up on other people’s inner children – especially the inner child of a significant other. Outer also bullies your own inner child.
    57. Outer Child tries to get self esteem by proxy – that is, by trying to attract people who have more status or bigger egos. Outer likes to be liked by a big shot.
    58. Outer Child can deliver a subtle but powerful blow if it perceives a social slight, no matter how small.
    59. Outer Child goes undercover in public. Some people are better able to hide their Outer child than others. Of course, some Outer children are easier to hide than others.
    60. Outer Child can’t hide from your spouse or children. They’ve seen it in action. That is what intimacy is all about: the mutual exposure of your Outer children.
    61. Outer Child can express anger by becoming inconveniently passive.

One of Outer’s favorite disguises is ‘compliance.’ Outer child uses compliance to confuse others into thinking that it doesn’t want to take control. But don’t be fooled – Outer child is a control freak, even if a subtle one.

    1. Outer Child finds someone who is easy to take for granted and then treats them badly because it doesn’t have to worry about being left for a change.
    2. Outer Child keeps up an endless protest against any reality it doesn’t want to accept.
    3. Outer Child can stay in protest mode no matter how much you try to let go, accept a loss, or face an unwanted reality.
    4. Outer Child protests against homework, returning library books, taxes, rejection, global warming, and death.
    5. Outer Child refuses to stay on the rock (reference to Black Swan: 12 Lessons of Abandonment Recovery), unlike Little. Outer climbs down and picks up a hatchet and goes on a war path.
    6. Outer Child has a chip on its shoulder which it disguises as assertiveness. Outer Child becomes ‘Outa.’
    7. Outer Child (Outa) develops a ‘tude’ to keep people at bay. It’s trying to overprotect your inner child’s feelings of loneliness and vulnerability.
    8. Outer Child is like the annoying older brother who constantly interferes in the guise of protecting (overprotecting) you.
    9. Outer Child doesn’t obey the golden rule.
    10. Outer Child obeys its own ‘Outer child’ rule: Get others to treat you as you want to be treated, and treat others as feel like treating them.
    11. Outer Child has been gaining strength since the terrible twos. Its development got stuck somewhere between eight and twelve – the age when you no longer took rejection, dismissal, or neglect sitting down. Outer will continue to gain power until your adult self gains strength to tame its behavior. The program helps you drastically lower your Outer child-to-Adult quotient.
    12. Outer Child needs to be disciplined, but don’t expect limit-setting to go smoothly.
    13. Outer Child provokes anger in subtle ways, then accuses the other person of being abusive.
    14. Outer child loves to play the injured party.
    15. Outer Child submits so it can seethe at being dominated.
    16. Outer Child knows how to wear the white hat.
    17. Outer Child is master at making the other person look like the bad guy.
    18. Outer Child behavior ranges from mild self-sabotage all the way to criminal destructiveness.
    19. Outer Child can gain control so early that the individual doesn’t develop any true empathy or compassion for himself or others. The extreme Outer child is a sociopath.
    20. Outer Child needs to be understood, owned, and overruled by an airtight coalition between your inner child and your adult self.
    21. Outer Child holds the key to change. Inner child beholds your emotional truth but can’t change (because it’s developmentally too young to overcome its passivity). When you catch your Outer child red-handed, wrest the key from its hands and unlock your future.

We all have an Outer child because we all have automatic behaviors. We all have an Outer child because we all have emotions that provoke automatic, learned responses.

    1. Outer Child is a puppeteer. If you’re not a strong enough adult, it will pull all your strings.
    2. Outer Child is Dennis the Menace.
    3. Outer Child is OUT of control.
    4. Outer Child thrives on denial. Denial is how Outer defends itself.
    5. Outer Child represents the defense mechanisms. If you happen to think of personality as a defense, then, Outer Child would represent the personality. Outer Child is highly reactive to triangles, especially when You are being triangulated between someone you love and someone they love. Outer Child is emotionally allergic to triangles, especially when you’re caught in a triangle between someone you love and someone they love (such as your partner’s daughter from his first marriage or your girlfriend’s ongoing ‘friendship’ with her old boyfriend). Triangles get Outer all bent out of shape. When your inner child feels jealous and threatened, it triggers your Outer Child to go haywire and make you look emotionally disturbed. You’re triangulated.
    6. Outer Child is a self-trasher.
    7. Outer Child has a default diet – comfort food.
    8. Outer Child likes to see itself as a freedom fighter, but while it’s off somewhere raising hell, you wind up in shackles.
    9. Outer Child tries to speak for Little. You think you’re tuning into your feelings, but you’re really listening to Outer Child trying to manipulate you.
    10. Outer Child seeks emotional salve from others.
    11. Outer Child is a fairness junky.
    12. Outer Child is highly principled: it scrupulously obeys the pleasure principle.
    13. Outer Child believes that when heartbroken, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else (paraphrased from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love).
    14. Outer Child can become so shrill that people can’t tell whether it’s whining or secretly having an orgasm.
    15. Outer Child loves to associate with other Outer children so that it can act out without guilt.
    16. Outer Child is Crusader Rabbit, but with an ulterior motive.
    17. Outer Child can turn your whole life into ‘Ferris Beuler Day’s off.’
    18. Outer Child is an environmentalist when it comes to women (or men) – it just likes to tag them and then throw them back.
    19. Outer Child has an attitude. Outer is the ‘Outa’ of the personality.

Child loves to shrug and say, ‘Whatever…” but this is disingenuous. It is trying to get people to let their guard down so that it can gain control of the situation.

  1. Outer Child believes what it wants to believe. It has a wishbone where it should have a backbone (paraphrased from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love).
  2. Outer Child plays ‘caretaker’ in the hopes of gaining love insurance. But this backfires because the other person winds up feeling obligated and leaves you in the end anyway.
  3. Outer Child refuses to believe there is no such thing as love-insurance.
  4. Outer Child finds someone over whom to ‘have the edge.’ You feel so valuable you can’t imagine the ‘poor slob’ ever wanting to leave you. This is another failed attempt at love-insurance. It backfires just like all of Outer’s other schemes.
  5. Outer Child is a perfectionist. Your Adult Self has a hard time reasoning with this pigheaded, nit-picking perfectionist.
  6. Outer Child is a perfectionist with strings attached. It’s bargaining. It’s saying, ‘If I do this perfectly, I deserve to reap a reward.’
  7. Outer Child’s perfectionism contains a built-in vice grip. Inside the velvet glove is an iron fist.
  8. Outer Child refuses to accept the simple fact that you, like everyone else has imperfections, inadequacies, lackings, and shortcomings. We are all bent twigs. The knuckles, knots, and bends in your twig are what give each personality its special contour and distinctiveness. Perfectionism is a part of your Outer child portfolio.
  9. Outer Child pretends to be pure and innocent to show other people up.
  10. Outer Child is an egotist who tries to hide it in all sorts of disguises like altruism, moral superiority, righteous indignation, benevolence.
  11. Outer Child can be spiteful but goes about its dastardly deeds slyly because it doesn’t want to get caught.
  12. Outer Child is a wolf dressed up in Little Red Riding Hood’s clothing. If you look closely, you’ll notice Outer’s whiskers sticking out.
  13. Outer Child can be self-spiteful. It goes to the trouble of making you feel like miserable- all because you are angry at your ex for leaving you. Outer refuses to let up on your heartbreak – even when your Adult Self is ready to. Outer puts you through all of this because it thinks this misery is a way to get even with your ex. Your grief is really your Outer child behaving like a spoiled, self-spiteful brat toward you, just to say “So there!” to your ex. As illogical, primitive, unconscious, and totally self-defeating as You know this to be, Outer continues its siege, undeterred. (Self-spite is what young children do – an early sign of a fledgling Outer child).
  14. Outer Child can’t commit in relationships because it’s always ‘looking to trade up.’
  15. Outer Child has ‘bigger is better syndrome.’
  16. Outer Child becomes your friend for life, once You the mentoring Adult, have brought it into maturity.

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