The role of the inner parent is to be there to support your personal development journey. This part of you – your auxiliary or co-pilot process – is the key to living a happy and meaningful life; this is the part of you that will help you bring forth your inner wisdom and your purpose path.
Personal Genius


Your inner parent is the bridge between your healing journey and the reality you want for yourself. Your inner parent is also the “home” you have always been yearning for but have not been able to find. Without your inner parent’s mature guidance, you will go from one relationship, personal development programme, or career to another always looking for the answers that you already have within.

personalityhacker.com_inner-parentPowerlessness is rampant in the world, but what people don’t realise is that they have the power to choose their own destiny. If you choose not to develop your inner parent, you choose not to develop your sense of inner power. The choice is yours.

Your inner parent’s level of maturity will also dictate your ability to help guide your inner child to healing. And since your inner child has at least two specific ways of being and expressing themselves (tertiary and inferior function or the 10-year-old and the 3-year-old of the car model), having maturity and flexibility in your inner parenting style become necessary; this will allow you to engage fully in your life and actualize into the person you were born to be.

I want to challenge you to start taking your co-pilot (auxiliary) function seriously, and make a commitment to developing it’s healthy aspects over any other part of you right now. Committing to developing your co-pilot will make the rest of your healing journey easier and less time and self-consuming. Instead of allowing your co-pilot to run your inner parenting in an immature, destructive way, by choosing to strengthen your co-pilot process you claim the authentic part of you and begin to access your real gifts.

Here is what the different processes look like with a healthy and unhealthy expression:


(Adult self)

(Inner Parent)

10-year old

(Inner child)

3-year old

(Inner child)

Perspectives Harmony Accuracy Sensation
Healthy Can see everyone’s point of view. Can make decisions that are a win for everyone, starting with self. Naturally inspires the elevation of standards for self and others Inclusive sense of humor and playfulness. Allows them to feel completely free in life.
Unhealthy Obsesses about what people are doing wrong, and what the consequences of those things will be. People pleasing; has no boundaries; readily hands over the reins to others for decision-making and ends up self-sacrificing. Constant criticism about what is wrong, and what is not good enough; this usually starts with self and spreads to other people. Unwillingness to engage with anything other than what will make them feel free. Can become addicted to substance, intimacy, attention.
Common ways to resolve unhealthy issues Be more prepared, try to mellow anxiety down with substance/medication. Tolerate people who walk all over them until the only thing left is the INFJ door slam. To do lists, setting goals, getting obsessed with being organized. Indulge in addictions and then beat themselves up for not being good enough to do better. Makes an unrealistic commitment to do better in the future, and does, until the pressure is too much and falls back into the pattern.
Try this instead Learn to embrace your imperfect perspectives by seeing that every “flaw” has value.
Choose a supportive attitude through pattern interrupt and then self-parenting with “Harmony.”
Train your inner parent to identify your needs and then vocalize them. Learn to set boundaries before issues become too much to bear.
Learn to trust some people and lean on them when you need help.
Learn to use Harmony as a decision-making process, instead of leaning on your “Accuracy” too much.
Remember, while you can give a 10-year-old a job, you would not ask them to run your adult life and make grown-up decisions.
Give your 3-year-old a creative project, which your inner parent (Harmony) is managing.
What this looks like in practice is learning to have creative conversations with your 3-year-old, so that they turn to self-parenting for soothing, instead of addictions.



(Adult self)


(Inner Parent)

10-year old

(Inner child)

3-year old

(Inner child)

Authenticity Exploration Memory Effectiveness
Healthy Visionary, stable, self-sustainable driving force that has a high level of respect for self and others. Acknowledges the sovereignty of self and others. Is open to new learnings and explores new possibilities readily. Patient and kind, expressive and inclusive. Embraces the safety of routine and tradition, rather than sees it as a restriction. Deliberately enjoys the meaning of life, and wants to share it with others. Loves people, loves connecting with others on a practical, playful level, and takes great pleasure in achieving meaningful goals effectively.
Unhealthy Messy and unable to handle the injustice and unfairness of the world. Innermost emotions become too much to handle, and thus hands the reins over to the co-pilot in the hope to be saved by them. Escapes into the inner world. Distracts self with books, movies, stories, substance. Comes up with stories that are not necessarily in line with the reality of the outer world. Creates stories about others to reflect how they feel about themselves. Stubbornly holds on to how things “should” be done, and is idealistic. If this idealism is not met, becomes overly critical of self and others. When overwhelmed with not being able to live up to the idealism, hands the reins over to the 3-year-old self. Is unable to deal with feelings, refuses to take responsibility for anything and lashes out uncontrollably. Once they come out of this rage, they often feel undeserving of forgiveness, and can slip into depression.
Common ways to resolve issue Trying to force boundaries so that they don’t lose their sovereignty. Withdrawal and a sense of disappointment in people. Beating themselves or others into doing things that they think “should” be done. Lashing out at other people, and making others responsible for how they are feeling.
Try this instead Remember, that sovereignty of self and others may sometimes seem to be a conflict, but that everyone, including yourself, is entitled to that sovereignty.
Learn to look for the good in differences.
Instead of making stories about what others may or may not be thinking or saying, go and do something FUN!
Claim your sovereignty by choosing to do something that nurtures you, instead of focusing on what you can’t control.
Learn to pick your battles and let go of the ones that do not serve your authentic self.
Stay present with the emotions that are presented to you (by yourself or others), and try to see the person as a unique being, who is going through their own struggles.
Try to let go of the need to compare others’ behavior to your standards and try to see where they are coming from.
Walking away from the situation that has triggered you. Take responsibility for your feelings.
Once you realize that people are not out to get you, you can go back to clarify your position with the other person from a neutral and open point of view; this will build relationships, rather than put a strain on them.

As you can see from this diagram, each process can have it’s healthy and unhealthy expression. The question becomes what kind of support you want to offer yourself throughout the rest of your life. I’m sure you’ve noticed a lot of grown-ups running around behaving like children: they are the perfect example of a person who has not undertaken self-parenting, and have not balanced their driver process with a healthy co-pilot. As an INF type, I assume you have aspirations to actualize yourself fully, rather than be at the mercy of others emotions and circumstances.

And so if you were to practice self-parenting and begin to actualize your true self, what would your life look like?

Here are some cause and effect pointers:

  • Spending time and making play dates with your inner child is paramount – the time spent with yourpersonalityhacker.com_inner_parent-article inner child is sacred. It builds trust between different parts of you, and you will finally feel safe within yourself.
  • Building a mental child care facility for your inner child serves a great purpose; this may seem strange, but as adults, we understand that everything in life is not age appropriate for our inner child. Those insecure parts of us will learn to extend trust toward ourselves and the world if they feel safe and secure.
  • Enforce boundaries in a reasonable way, but make sure to maintain a certain level of flexibility. People change. You change. Having boundaries that are too rigid disallows natural growth in relationships and within people themselves.
  • Choose a suitable parenting style for your inner child and study it. Commit yourself to building a relationship with all these different aspects of you, which is important, as you are the only person you have a relationship with for your entire life. Learn to make yourself a priority.

And some further action steps we recommend to get on your inner parenting journey:

  • Book an hour a week to do a sensory activity with your inner child, and do it specifically from a healthy inner parent place (Harmony for INFJs and Exploration for INFPs). Take a walk outdoors, along the beach, sit by a river, lay on the grass and make animals out of cloud shapes, swim, etc. Whatever happens do not cancel – try this for four weeks.
  • In the same four-week period, teach yourself to leave your inner child at childcare when attending to grown-up matters that need your full attention; this will teach you to set boundaries with your out of control emotions and will equip you to live a more balanced adult life. Don’t just dump your inner child into childcare – make sure that you make it a pleasant experience for them and reassure them that you will be back in no time to pick them up.
  • Write down three things you wish you always had, or had done as a child, and then try to make them happen – there is no rule to say you can’t still do them now, even as an adult.

Your inner parenting journey won’t always be smooth sailing, but it’s good to remember that when you feel powerless in your journey, you can allow these feeling of powerlessness to pass by showing kindness to yourself.

When you struggle, just remember that you are so much more than your feelings at that moment. You are the magnificent being who is doing the work to self-actualize.

That’s how I see you, and it’s an honor to share this work with you.

Want to learn more?

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  • Pat
    • Pat
    • December 22, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Ian undoubtedly an INFJ who is striving overcome my dysfunctional relationships with people who do not respect my boundaries. I seem to want everyone to have their needs met to the point of ignoring my own needs. Most times I don’t even know what my needs are other than wanting to bei alone. I used to think O was adaptable and was happy going with the flow of what other people wanted. Now as I set boundaries, those persons who are used to my acquiescence either belittle me or try to manipulate me into accepting their wants as always. How do I handle this without losing my intimate partner? FYI: I think he may be an unhealthy IFP.

  • merja
    • merja
    • May 20, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you for your reflections, Ellie! Well written!

  • Ellie
    • Ellie
    • April 18, 2018 at 2:04 am

    Well this is interesting. A few years back I wrote about this old fashioned, prim and perfect pre pubescent girl who appeared on my piano bench one day, swinging her feet because she liked how her copper toed boots caught the light. She gave me smug looks because I was messy and not even dressed yet. I tried asking her why she was there and what she wanted, but she wouldn’t respond (although I somehow knew her name). Now I understand.

    Meanwhile, my 3yo bites and screams and throws endless temper tantrums, a child raised by wolves, complete with matted hair and layers of mud.

  • merja
    • merja
    • February 13, 2018 at 4:59 am

    Hi Angie, thank you so much for your comment and your reflections! I’m so glad that you’ve had an A-HA moment from this article. It warms my heart so very much – Thank YOU!

    From the clarity you are expressing about your next steps on your journey, I can’t help but to be excited for where you will take this work. Just as a matter of interest, have you taken either the INFx Unveiled course or the 4 People Within course (self parenting courses)?

    There are so many questions I want to ask you but want to make sure you have a frame of reference for my questions! :D

  • Angie
    • Angie
    • February 5, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Ah HA! I’ve been seeing the car metaphor everywhere but haven’t been able to intuit what’s really going on. Until now. Not only do I understand. Oh it’s amazing, sad but darkly funny: my life has been so out of control because I’ve been letting the 10-year-old and 3-year-old take turns driving! The car has been running for years on cynicism, toxic perfectionism, and chocolate chip cookie dough.

    Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my INFJ heart, thank you, for phrasing and grouping everything in precisely the way I needed. My mind is swirling and in overdrive, connecting dots, working out a way to get Harmony in the car again. After all, how can I possibly achieve harmony around me when inside me is discord? Imagine what the car rides have been like…

    Fellow INFs, please don’t let the children drive.

    I have a lot of wonderful work to do. It’s going to be rough at times, but I can make it through. The hope and optimism I’ve been missing are back and making me a little teary. Oh this is awesome! Thank you!

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