The Relationship Between Mini-Me and the Adult Self
Unmet needs in childhood, such as inadequate nurture, security, love, attention, and encouragement become drivers of behaviour in adult life. The more neglected these needs are in childhood the needier Mini-Me can become. Whether the Adult self is aware of their needy Mini-Me or not, Mini-Me will do everything they can to get these needs met.
For instance, when a child’s need for affirmation is not met, when he or she grows up they may find themselves helping others to the point of neglecting themselves, in order for Mini-Me to get praise and affirmation. Alternatively, a person not adequately or appropriately loved as a child, may find himself or herself falling in and out of love very easily, trying to meet Mini-Me’s need for love.
These sorts of approaches are Mini-Me’s way of meeting the unmet need, and can lead to a raft of other issues such as depression, stress, burnout, and anxiety, as well as physical, financial, and work problems. The adult is often baffled as to why life is not working out, why they feel empty even though they are doing activities to feel ‘fulfilled’.
Trying to get unresolved Mini-Me needs met by external sources does not work. Without realising it, people try to outsource the work of affirming and nurturing their Mini-Me to other people, places, and things. This is largely due to the modelling from caregivers as a child.
What often happens is the caregiver themselves did not receive adequate nurturing growing up, so rather than meeting the needs of the child, they sort to have their own Mini-Me needs meet. In fact, the child becomes an ‘external source’ and takes on the role of ‘trying’ to fulfil the needs of their parents Mini-Me. This leaves the child’s needs unfulfilled and they grow up and repeat the parents modelling of finding others and other things to fulfil the need, creating a generational pattern.
Growing up in this sort of environment creates a kind of enmeshment between the Adult and Mini-Me self. This enmeshment within the self, similar to any other kind of co-dependant relationship, makes ‘self-awareness’ and therefore awareness of one’s own Mini-Me incredibly difficult. This is because it is impossible to know what thoughts, feelings and needs belong to whom, creating confusion, and dysfunctional internal boundaries.
This confusion causes a lack of clarity around who is responsible. It is often Mini-Me who feels largely responsible for getting their own needs met. As Mini-Me’s are not equipped to understand or provide these needs, let alone the complicated problems in adult life, Mini-Me feels overwhelmed. What is required is a process whereby the Adult assumes responsibility and provides the needs of Mini-Me in a healthy way.
The Adult self is the part of self that is caring, considerate, compassionate, creative, capable, confident, and curious. The Adult self is responsible and resourceful, and is able to take care of Mini-Me. The Adult self identifies Mini-Me. As this awareness develops, so too does the awareness of the Adult self. During this duel awareness there is almost a simultaneous internal affirmation of the Adult self, and his or her ability to take responsibility and care for Mini-Me.
Exercise to consider
Can you identify anywhere in your life were Mini-Me feels responsible for something, whether a situation or a relationship, that he or she cannot handle? How is Mini-Me coping with this responsibility? What is Mini-Me trying to do to meet the need?