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You’ve met your inner child – now meet your outer child, the self-sabotaging nemesis of your personality – the part that breaks your diet and gets attracted to all the wrong people.

Whereas Inner child is all about feelings, Outer child is all about behavior.

Outer Child acts out your inner child’s feelings – especially your abandonment feelings – without giving you, the adult, a chance to intervene. When you feel hurt, angry, or insecure, Outer acts out these feelings in ways that sabotage your relationships. Outer works like a bungling undercover agent in trying to protect (overprotect) you from abandonment. Stealthy, quick, and misguided, it intercepts love before you ever know what happened.

Outer child is a revolutionary self-awareness tool. In discovering your outer child, you get a leg up on overcoming your self-defeating patterns, improving your relationships, and becoming the self-possessed adult you always wanted to be. Those of you who’ve been reading Susan’s books Taming Your Outer Child; Journey from Abandonment to Healing; Journey from Heartbreak to Connection; or who take her abandonment recovery workshops learn how to effectively target your outer child patterns.

Outer is the impulsive, obstinate, self-centered ten-year old within all of us. Outer wants what Outer wants NOW, and overrules you, the adult, in getting it. Outer prefers to binge on candy when you are steadfastly sticking to a diet (or so you thought). Outer says yes to a third glass of wine when you, the Adult, had decided on a two drink minimum.

Outer child is born of unresolved abandonment. It wreaks havoc in your relationships when it acts out your inner child’s primal fear of abandonment. For example, it aims its emotional suction cups at our prospective partners and scares them away.

In taking the outer child inventory, you undertake the first in-depth self-reckoning of your lifetime. As you gain outer child awareness, you own up to character defects most people prefer to deny, learning how to deal with traits that until now formed an invisible infrastructure of self-sabotage deep within your personality.

Outer fights change – especially change initiated by you, the adult. Outer balks at doing the right thing and only wants things that are bad for your health, figure, or bank account. By bringing Outer out of the bunkers and into the daylight, you get to subvert its mission, rather than let it subvert yours.

More about Outer Child

Outer is fueled by emotion. Take anger. Outer either overreacts or under-reacts to your anger. For example, abandonment survivors tend to be too insecure to risk expressing anger or assertiveness to someone because they fear it might break the connection. Outer takes advantage of this fear and gets you to take your anger out on yourself, damaging your self-esteem. Conversely, Outer takes your anger out on innocent bystanders and makes you look like a monster.

Outer is the “yes but” of the personality. If you let it, Outer ties your life up in knots.

Outer child likes to play games, especially in relationships. It wears many disguises including “hard to get” and “Florence Nightingale” (where Outer panders for ‘love-insurance’ by over-caretaking). It poses as your ally, but is really your gatekeeper. Its covert agenda is to maintain your patterns – albeit your most self-defeating ones. By deconstructing your Outer Child defenses, your Adult Self has the opportunity to guide your behavior, rather than remain driven by your hidden nemesis.

Susan continues to collect data on Outer Child, so please email us with your own unique Outer Child characteristics as well as your comments. Thank you for your help.

(Try the “Outer Child Inventory.” For more about Outer Child, read: Taming your Outer Child: Overcoming your Self-Defeating Patterns (Ballantine 2010); Journey from Abandonment to Healing (Berkley 2000); and WORKBOOK, Journey from Heartbreak to Connection: A Workshop in Abandonment Recovery (Berkley 2003).

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