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The Orphans Inside Us

When we deny parts of ourselves, we create a “hidden orphanage inside us – a group of lost and alienated parts of the self that we’ve banished” (Kidd, 1990, p. 161).

What parts of ourselves are we denying and why have we banished them?

I believe we deny the “whats” because of the “whys.” We deny the “whats” because of cultural, family, and societal restrictions and/or expectations (the “whys”.) We have experiences that tell us it’s not safe to have the “whats” be integral parts of ourselves. Perhaps we’ve been shunned or judged harshly. Maybe we’ve been made to feel dirty or “less than” because we didn’t conform. So, we try conforming and repressing ourselves and, in the process, create a bunch of orphans.

Eventually there comes a point for each of us when our orphans refuse to stay locked up and they demand to be recognized. When this happens, how do we adopt or reintegrate them into our lives? How do we create a comfortable and safe space where our orphans are not only welcomed but celebrated?

The most essential element is creating a welcoming atmosphere inside of our own minds and hearts. We must love our orphans with the unconditional love of a mother even though we may not initially enjoy their presence. It’s likely it will feel uncomfortable for a while but as we adjust, our sense of self will change, and our new “normal” will be our original “normal” before we created our orphans in the first place.

Associating with others who are also endeavoring to reintegrate their orphans is immensely helpful. In communities of safe space: we can introduce our orphans to each other; no one will think our orphans are ugly; and no one is rejected because our orphans may be unfamiliar or strange.

We can find these safe spaces among our friends, on Facebook communities, with our partners, or through connecting with our higher powers (if they aren’t part of the orphaning process). We can find them basically everywhere and they will definitely appear if we are intentionally integrating our orphans.

The rewards of welcoming our orphans back into their rightful place in our lives is the peace that authenticity brings. “As we become more authentic, one consequence leads to another in a chain reaction until our lives take on a new shape and direction that is more in tune with who we are, our values, beliefs, strengths, talents and abilities. . . I am convinced that the single most important key to a good life is to live it in a way that is absolutely true to oneself.” (Joseph, 2016, p. 118).

I challenge you to be true to yourself and reunite with your orphans.

Kidd, S. (1990). When the heart waits: Spiritual direction for life’s sacred questions. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Joseph, S. (2016). Authentic: How to be yourself and why it matters. London, England: Piatkus.

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