• How To Avoid Trouble In Your Relationship (Adaptive Child & Wise Adult)

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    How To Avoid Trouble In Your Relationship (Adaptive Child & Wise Adult)

    Are you having trouble in your relationship?

    If so, chances are that the adaptive child part of you is running your relationship a lot of the time. 

    What is the adaptive child part of you? It’s the part of you that’s not interested in being an adult in your relationship.

    We all have these parts of us. It’s what we learned growing up, and are the childish adaptions we made to emotionally, and or physically survive in the family we grew up in.

    For example, if you grew up in a family where loud anger was often expressed, you would adapt by being loud and angry, or you would adapt by shutting down – protecting yourself in either or both ways at times.

    These behavioral adjustments were adaptive back then, but are maladaptive now.

    They’re maladaptive because we no longer need to protect ourselves like a child would in our adult relationships.

    Since we are adults, we can take care of these adaptive child parts of us that come out when we’re triggered, upset, and stressed.

    I will show you a way to do that in a sec…

    But first, let’s acknowledge the wisdom of these parts of us; they got us through difficult times. If it wasn’t for these adaptive parts of us, we would be unprotected and completely exposed.

    You may be thinking, Jason are you saying we shouldn’t protect ourselves in our adult relationships now…?


    The gift of anger is assertion.

    So, the question is, can we be assertive without expressing anger?

    The more we can be assertive without expressing anger, the more we’re being wise adults in our relationships.

    -It’s not easy, I know.

    Also, these adaptive child parts of us are always with us as they are encoded into our psyche. It only takes one second for the adaptive child in us to be front and center, so to speak.

    Personally, my adaptive child part of me will usually first yell, be sharp and sarcastic, and then go into passive-aggressive withdrawal until I (the wise adult part of me) realizes that this behavior is not functional. By not being functional, it means I’m not going to get what I really want. 

    The adaptive child part of me wants to feel validated, understood and connected.

    That’s what all children want. Amy McCready, creator of Positive Parenting Solutions, states that a child’s core goals are to achieve belonging and significance.

    We, as wise adults, can now provide core goals for our adaptive child parts of us that needed more of that ‘growing up’.

    Over the years, I’ve become much better at noticing when an adaptive part of me is starting to surface. When this happens, I slow myself down and (in my mind’s eye) say to that part:

    “I see you, understand you, and love you, but I’m going to take it from here.”

    – Jason’s Wise Adult Part

    If we break it down, we’re creating space between our triggered feelings, reactions, and behavior, which, ultimately, gives us more space to behave like wise adults. 

    We’re also providing appropriate limits with our triggered feelings because children need that as well.

    When triggered, upset, or stressed, we’re personifying the feelings as younger, less mature versions of us. And when we personify them, we can relate to them differently and give them what they need – validation, love, and appropriate limits i.e. “I’m going to take it from here…”

    Recognizing our adaptive child’s behavior will bring our prefrontal cortex back online, the part of our brain that’s fully developed by 25 (ironically, when we’re an adult). This is the part of us that can get what we really want.

    Other psychologists call this part of us our ambassadors. Ambassadors can negotiate in our best interests. Another term for ambassador is wise adult. 

    Whatever term works best for you, make this so the adaptive child part of you is not running the show too much of the time. If they do, your relationship will be in trouble.

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