In spiritual and personal development circles, we are all very familiar with the concepts of the higher self and the inner child, and the need for a positive, introspective, grounded and effective personality.
Most self-help and metaphysical works of literature address only one of these concepts—rarely two or all of these. If someone asks me what spiritual awakening is, I simply answer “Heaven on Earth,” or the ability to function in this physical dimension according to high spiritual principles.
To make this concept less esoteric, there are three main and very different aspects of each of us:
- The adult
- The child
- The soul
All three parts have to work in harmony so we can become fully integrated and whole, in order to walk this Earth as an awakened being. The development of one aspect without the others is actually a danger for the self and others.
The inner adult—our personality
The adult or inner adult is nothing other than our personality. Our personalities are typically formed by our family upbringing, our culture, our education and our environment. As a result, they are full of wrong concepts, limited perspectives, false ideas and contradictions.
Through introspection, thoughtful study, a positive focus, conscious thinking and the learning of valuable lessons from our experience, we can (little by little) upgrade our personalities to better support our lives and the lives of others around us.
A lot of self-help books are actually dedicated to helping us develop a more effective personality so that we can be more successful in life, whether that success is related to financial abundance, intimate relationships or living a fulfilling life.
A mature adult responds instead of reacting. They have clear thinking and good values, and understand the steps necessary to make things happen in reality. They also know how to protect themselves and others, and are able to learn valuable lessons from life in order to improve the quality of others’ lives.
The inner child—our essence
The inner child is a more recently developed concept. Though Carl Jung was the originator of the concept with his divine child archetype, John Bradshaw is really the one who brought inner child work to the general public in the ’80s, through his bestseller books and his appearances on Oprah.
All mental health professionals are now trained extensively in inner child work. The inner child corresponds to our essence and the core of who we are. It is an aspect that is hypersensitive and completely open, and is the source of our creativity, spontaneity and inner joy.
As we are raised in this imperfect world by imperfect primary caretakers, our inner child (or inner children) becomes wounded along the way. This is demonstrated in a variety of ways, such as:
- Low self-esteem
- A poor body-image
- Emotional imbalances
- Problems with boundaries being too rigid or too weak
- Being ‘false’ and wearing ‘masks’
- Identity, intimacy and commitment problems
- Dependencies and addictions
The goal of inner child work is to reconnect with this subconscious aspect of the self and consciously re-experience our repressed emotions. With that, we can reparent our child so that they may be able to re-establish a healthy level of development.
The soul—our transcendental self
It is already perfect, fully developed and connected to the whole of existence. The higher self is above the cycle of birth and death. It is consciousness itself. Through it, we can experience God consciousness.
Who else better than the 13th-century Sufi mystic Rumi to explain the higher self to us? His description of the higher self is, as follows:
We do not work on the soul, it is all about raising our consciousness and remembering who we are as soul. The soul is unbreakable, does not get hurt and is love itself.
Let me illustrate the development of these three aspects of the self through my personal experience.
Child to adult
As a child, I experienced a series of attachment-related traumas that led to a deep depression and high anxiety when I was 13. My teenage personality looked for solutions that would help me find a way out of my emotional hell.
Though progress was slow at that age, I gradually developed concepts and ideas to make my existence more bearable. My progress was solely at the personality level (or at my adult self’s level) during this time. I was parentified, and I escaped my emotional pain through academic achievements. I lacked spontaneity, was very serious (a geek) and felt like an old man inside.
When I turned 19, I spent the whole summer in the U.S., which broadened my horizons. I fell in love with a girl upon my return to school, and a painful breakup three months later cracked me open. The intensity of the emotional pain made me experience, for the first time, a mystical state of consciousness during which I felt one with everything.
Suddenly, I became more or less aware that there was much more to existence than the visible. I started my spiritual journey and became obsessed with awakening. For the next seven years, though I didn’t understand it consciously, most of my work was focused on looking for my higher self that I had previously experienced for just a few moments.
A spiritual junkie
As a spiritual seeker, I fell into my first trap and joined a cult. Cults are nothing other than toxic organizations that position themselves as intermediaries to our relationship with God and charge a toll for it.
After leaving the cult three years later, and spending time deprogramming myself, I continued my efforts to find bliss. When I turned 26, I experienced my soul fully, for more than a day. This opened a doorway through which I was able to consciously go back to that state with a specific life discipline.
While I experienced ecstatic states of consciousness, I realized that I had become a spiritual junkie and that my life did not reflect, externally, the extraordinary states of consciousness that I was experiencing internally. I started to feel lonely and shifted my focus to physical manifestation. I got back to working on my personality (or adult self) to make things happen in my life.
During this time, I was inspired by self-help gurus such as Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., and Brian Tracy. I married a JAP (Jewish-American Princess) and started a family. I focused on my career to make a success of myself. I became a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, and the honourary Vice-Consul of Monaco. I avidly read business books to get ahead. Again, I escaped my emotional pain through professional success.
In my mid-thirties, my mind was not able to contain my underlying unprocessed emotions anymore. I started therapy at that time, and became interested in reconnecting with my transcendental self again, as I had the constant feeling that something was missing. I became a big fan of non-duality teachers such as Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Krishnamurti and David Deida.