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How’s your 3 year old?

September 10, 2010

The other day, I met Michelle Rigg, a woman who has devised an incredible way of understanding all of those conflicting emotions, thoughts, and feelings that we have going on inside of us. She claims that we have basically four people inside of us – a 3 year old, a 7 year old, a 13 year old, and a wise adult. Each of the first three can be healthy or wounded.

A healthy 3 year old is one who feels safe, loved, acknowledged and holds our passion and zest for life; an unhealthy 3 year old feels fearful, distrustful, victimized, and unacknowledged, perhaps abandoned, and often hides behind our 7 year old. The wounded 3 year old wants people to pay attention to them. We manifest from the feelings of our 3 year old, so if our unhealthy 3 year old is operating, then we basically sabotage ourselves at every turn because we are coming from a place of fear and distrust. When our healthy 3 year old is manifesting, we have wondrous luck, success, and joy. The 3 year old also has the closest connection to the body and therefore is directly related to our health.

A healthy 7 year old has a balanced structured life and feels taken care of, and that the world is fair. A healthy 7 year old likes rules because they create the structure; an unhealthy 7 year old is bossy, and uses rules as a means of control. They seldom feel that life is fair and will do all they can to keep the wounded 3 year old safe. They tend to be judgmental, critical, hardworking – often overworked, perfectionistic, people pleaser, and often very defensive. The 7 year old most needs compassion.

A healthy 13 year old determines our relationships. They are independent and fun-loving. The wounded teenager is rebellious, a rule breaker, risk taker, and exhibitionist. They can also be attacking, especially to protect the 7 year old. The teenager needs to play, to be honest, to be authentic. It is often the teenager that pulls us off our diets or has us overspending – in the effort to balance from the hard-working 7 year old. Then the 7 year old will judge the teenager for “breaking the rules” and often self-punish. The 13 year old needs unconditional love and the freedom to play.

So, how do we control these wounded parts of ourselves? Luckily, we also have the Wise Adult. The wise adult is strongly connected to Spirit, and is accepting of all that is. The wise adult knows how to handle each of the other three by giving them what they each need – attention, compassion, and unconditional love. As this is done, the other three can begin to collaborate and work together so that your life becomes smooth, flowing, balanced, and full of joy!

I find this information invaluable for understanding the dynamics that happen between people as well as within myself. For example, I realized that sometimes my 7 year old doesn’t want anyone telling her what to do. She always knows best. Others have witnessed this as defensiveness. She is really taking care of my wounded 3 year old who is very vulnerable. As I give the 3 year old the attention and safety she needs, she thrives, and the 7 year old can then listen to suggestions for adding structure and balance. As I give the 7 year old the compassion she needs, she calms down.

And as I give the 13 year old some time to play and have fun, I feel more energized to live the life I truly desire.

Go ahead. Play with it. I am sure you will like what you find.

For more information on Michelle and the work she is doing, see

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