Inner-guardianship work: compassionate self-reparenting


This is probably one of my favourite topics within the whole childhood trauma recovery movement. It was first introduced to me by a man called ‘John Bradshaw’. I have read 3 of his books and was an amazing teacher. The premise of ‘self-reparenting’ is you begin to meet your needs within the present moment and grieve out the old pain from your childhood losses. The idea is you create a more empowering ‘intra-personal’ relationship with yourself. ‘Intra’ in latin meaning ‘within’. The phrase I recently come up with to describe this work is ‘inner-guardianship work’. The word ‘guardianship’ was a word I recently read in a book by Terry Kellog called ‘broken toys, broken dreams’ who also is an amazing teacher within the complex childhood trauma movement. Now what I am really discussing here is recovery from ‘c-ptsd’ which is a form of post traumatic stress induced in early childhood. Things symptoms include:


  • Toxic shame
  • Having a violent inner-critic
  • Extreme social anxiety
  • A malfunctioning or dormant ‘fight response’
  • Total self-abandonment (codependency)
  • Hypervigilance
  • Toxic guilt 
  • Having a false self (a social mask used for anxiety management & protection against wounds being trigger. Typical the role you played in your family of origin).


The ‘core primal wounds’ of c-ptsd’ which trigger the symptoms can be expressed as fears could be narrowed down to the following (could be more could be less):

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Fear of abuse
  • Fear of negative social judgement
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Fear of expressing anger & boundaries
  • Fear of expressing sadness
  • Fear of being honest
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of neglect
  • Fear of being yourself / transparent

“What is self-parenting work?”

So the idea of emotional healing using inner-guardianship work is a combination of grieving, cognitive development / adding cognitive skills, modifying beliefs, changing dysfunctional behaviours & living from a place of empowered self-care (taking care of your physical, mental, social health).

Concept of self-fathering & divine masculine work  

Now as a father, because men have more muscle mass and are normally taller, I view a fathers main role within the family system (symbolically) as the role of both providing protection & discipline. So in reparenting ourselves this requires us learning to set boundaries in all relationships & cultivate a strong will for effective discipline. My favourite author Pete Walker describes when recovery from c-ptsd the first point of call is shrinking & dethroning your inner-critics power over your psyche. The violent inner-critic is activated when having a emotional flashback. Read my previous article on emotional flashbacks. Once the inner-critic comes online, its venous dialogue triggers toxic shame, toxic guilt and terror, then can cause social anxiety, panic attacks, the need to become hostile with others or indulge in food & binge or indulge in alcohol or drugs to numb emotional pain). As we practice anger-empowered thought stopping to cancel / counterattack the inner-critic, we begin to cultivate healthy instincts for self-protection & ultimately assertiveness. Additionally, doing ‘angering work’ or ‘championing’ work which author Pete Walker describes as one of the core grieving techniques. This is where an individual in a safe & private place, grieves there losses of childhood (which could be angering over hypercritical authoritarian parenting, angering over partners who manipulated you or abused you etc). For people with extreme cases of c-ptsd, this a life long process of grieving your childhood & present day losses. Overtime your emotional flashbacks diminish & most importantly through practising your anger with more frequency you begin to increase your healthy instincts protection & self-assertiveness.

An additional concept I would like to add as a growing man especially and the essence of what I consider healthy masculinity is what I describe as the ability to take courageous action in all areas of your life & being able to direct the majority of your actions towards your life purpose & inspired mission. Committing 100% of your life to your purpose to provide yourself with a surplus of intrinsic fulfillment to become a ever-forward, ever-evolving moving entity. Never self-sacrificing your life mission for your partner or friends or temporary pleasures. This allows you to foster autonomy (independence). Your life purpose is your primary focus. Your mission with strengthen your masculine core and provides you with continuous daily challenges which you to sharpen your work ethic & the character building blocks such as perseverance, patience, diligence etc day by day. Masculine energy is always looking for freedom from limitations. This is the concept of cultivating a strong masculine polarity (this was popularised by author David Deida in his ‘the way of the superior man’. Where he discusses both masculine & feminine energy). Women can also of course apply this concept as well but may or may not be as driven to be as extremely mission-driven which is totally fine. David Deida describes this as someone having a more feminine core, which is what I will discuss next.

Self-mothering & divine feminine work 

Self-mothering is the second concept when reparenting your inner-child. Symbolically, as I see fathers as a symbol for protection, I see mothers symbolically as a symbol of love. Self-mothering requires us to provide ourselves with unconditional love, practice self-compassionate inner-dialogue in the presence of my mistakes / troubles and another extension of compassion towards the self is ‘unconditional self-forgiveness’. “Shame is blame directed at the self” the opposite of ‘blame’ is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself but your mistakes alleviates shame and blame from being aimed at the self & personal identity.  We have to love ourselves even when we think we are at our worst NOT conditionally loving ourselves only when we achieve or win etc.

The natural extension of internal self-mothering work is divine feminine work. Which extends from the unconditional love of self directed now outside towards others in the form of empathy, compassion & support to others in our friendships & intimate relationships (with boundaries. I am not saying unconditionally loving everyone limitlessly and then feeling exhausted).  When we love ourselves & ‘fill our cup first’ (the oxygen mask principle) will we be able to offer greater love for others rather than entering relationships depleted only with a means of seeking the very love we should be providing ourselves.

As with grieving through angering (championing) our present & childhood losses and doing heavy inner-critic work, these facilitate us to cultivate & regenerate our natural instincts for healthy self-protection. Quite similar, through doing crying centred grieving (sorrowing) our losses from childhood & from the present day we naturally begin to regenerate healthy instincts for authentic self-compassion. The fusion of these complementary healing modalities is what creates recovery overtime and makes us become more wholesome human beings, truly becoming intrinsically self-fulfilled, coming from a place of empowered self-care, having greater relationships with others / ourselves and being free from the pain of the past & present day.


Hope you have found this blog article helpful and if you have enjoyed it, be sure to comment below & share it on your social media!

Thanks for reading!


From your neighbourhood friendly coach

Joshua Leo Stuart


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