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Getting to know our Small People: Committing to the Healing of Big People

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

A child holds onto a drawing

Squiggly lines on a sheet

A house, trees with cloud like leaves, v-shaped birds

They walk into a room

Holding up their sheet

To the Big People around

Big People begin to speak

"This is beautiful!", some say

"Maybe this could be different", others echo

"Why this shape or that color?", a few ask

A couple nod and smile, some are too caught up to see.

One of them, with a gentle curiosity, asks "What do you like about your picture?"

The child, with surprise, beam and say

"I like that my house is crooked, and the trees look funny,

I can't quite draw wings. I like it this way."

Adults too, while seemingly Big,

House a Small person inside.

As we ask ourselves or another, "How are we doing today?"

We allow the Small Person to feel seen, heard and understood.

In therapeutic work when I sit across from the Big Person, I find myself actually listening to the Small Person. The 25-year-old, Big Person speaks the thoughts/feelings of the Small Person inside, perhaps their 4-year-old self. For instance, a partner may have said “I’m not sure if I like this plan, could we do something else on the weekend?”. While the 25-year-old listens, the 4-year-old-self probably hears “I am not a good enough planner, perhaps not a worthwhile partner altogether”.

In therapy, as we begin to explore Big People, we learn of the stories the Small People carry. By getting to know our Small People and building a relationship with them, we can re-write their stories. And one of the best ways I have found of establishing this contact is through Curious & Compassionate inquiry!

The process of therapy approaches individuals with Compassionate Curiosity, as we ask questions:

How do we soothe the hurt that our Small People carry?

What is it like to grieve the hurt that Small People had little agency, vocabulary to express?

What would it be like to see the Small People showing up in Big People relationships?

When does it feel safe for the Small People to express to Big People?

The 25-year-old may come to learn, in their own time and pace, how the 4-year-old self wants to be seen, heard and understood. The Big Person may then allow themselves to replace the reaction- “I am not good enough…” with a response, “Hey Small Person there, I know you are feeling not so good enough because this conversation reminds you of an unpleasant memory from the dungeons of the past. However I want you to know that our partner is not that person from past and our partner is only expressing their opinion. You and I are still loved!” The Big Person then begins to create a new story, acknowledging the hurt of their Small Person while also bridging the gap between the Small Person and Big Person’s worlds.

By mirroring this curiosity & compassionate inquiry that the therapeutic relationship offers, we can begin to look inward at our Small People and learn of how their inner world is connected intimately with our inner worlds!

Let’s try?

Journal Prompts

  • What would it be like for your Small Person to see how far the Big Person has come

Contemplate & Meditate on how you may have always wanted to reach the top shelf as a child, cook like an adult would, be able to ride big vehicles and how these have become an everyday happening now

  • What are the unique quirks and qualities these Small People carry which may be unchanged as Big People?

Contemplate & Meditate on how your 6-year-old self may have liked adventure, and your 10-year-old found it in the pages of books, while your 18-year-old found it in science projects, and your 25-year-old-self may yearn going on trips again & again.

  • What are the ways in which you can move closer to the Small Person inside?

Contemplate & Meditate on building relationship with play, joyful activities, humor, and rest

  • What are the ways in which you can begin to advocate for the Small Person inside?

Contemplate & Meditate on allowing compliments, making an ask, choosing to say ‘no,’ seeking rest

  • What would it be like to allow yourself to know how the Small People feel like in relationship with another Big Person?

Contemplate & Meditate on how our Small People can find it easier to express their feelings of fear/insecurity and need for love & care

-Nethra Nallari

Edited by Snehal Saraf

Category: Kintsugi with Compassion

Therapeutic work is often about Curiously & Compassionately saying, "Hi" to yourself again and again and again...until You and Your parts are Kintsugi-ed!

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