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It’s OK to feel “young at heart” as long as your emotional tool bag
doesn’t feel too empty or too disorganised at the same time

Growing Self Awareness

The diagrams  below are examples of different emotional age systems or patterns and the emotional tools they each use.

Explaining The Emotional Age Wheel

All of us, from the very earliest days in our lives are developing what I like to talk about as different patterns or systems to help us deal with life.

Psychologists have lots of other more complicated names for these, for example, sub-personalities, life skills, repeated patterns, persona, schema, life systems or “inner selves”.

For the time being just think of them as repeated patterns of behaviour that we have learned over the years because they work when we have to do different jobs.

Each system uses different “emotional tools”  

One tool for each job

It is important to be aware of:

1. Which energetic state or pattern you are in at any one time.

2 .Which kind of emotional tools you are using at that time because each one is different and works in a different way.

They are just like any other set of tools. Each one works in a different way. Imagine  yourself in a workshop full of tools and wanting to do a specific job, say cutting a piece of wood.

What are the risks if you automatically grab any old tool off the bench and start using it in the hope that it might cut the wood.

It’s the same with your life tools. You need to be able to label them, know what each one does, when it’s good to use it and when not to use it. You need to sort them out so you can find the right one when you need it.

Equally important is noticing when you are using the wrong tool and changing over to a better one.

That kind of noticing is called self-awareness. It’s not a tool in itself. It’s more like a having a way to organise your tool kit.

Your  emotional age color wheel will help you to:

1. Sort out your tool box, that is classify all your tools according to what they can and can’t do for you.

2.  Choose the best emotional tool for each job.

Choosing is largely a case of recognising the system that is powering each tool and its emotional age

3. Recognise when you are using the wrong tool and why it is not going to work.

Sorting out your tools

The picture below is the starting point. It classifies some different kinds of patterns or tools  according to the different systems, patterns and emotional ages that you or I move into each time we find ourselves facing a different situation.

1. Your wonderful and magic  Inner Child is in the middle - each and every one of the parts and patterns and tools that surround the inner child are there to protect and watch over that child.

2. Vulnerable child - pink  sector

3. Needy child patterns - orange sector including charming child and compliant child tools

4. Young fighter-survivor tools - red sector

5. Young fixer tools - yellow sector

6. Young Pusher Driver sector. More capable of combining thinking tools with younger fighting ones  - yellow green and moving towards green.

7. Thinker Fixer tool box - darker dark green

8. Aware and thinking systems - bright  green tools more organised

9. Aware thinking and feeling systems - green moving towards blue.

10. Growing up and Growing awareness systems-light blue moving towards darker shades of blue.

11. Aware Grown up System -SAGE  - dark blue

Recognise Your Different Energy states or patterns and the different Emotional Tools they each use

Each stage is recognisably different because inside you will  feel a different energy in your body. Each state or pattern is accompanied by different thoughts, words and feelings.

Each state or pattern uses different emotional tools to help make things happen or get things done.

  Pink sector  

Very Vulnerable child state - Pink   “It’s all too much! - I can’t cope any longer!” or I should .... but I can’t”

A starting point is the pink sector which is where you and I too, can find ourselves at times when we feel absolutely devastated, lost, unable to cope. It’s as though at that time, we have lost all your tools and our fuel tank is empty as well. It’s similar to the way you used to feel when you were a small child and had nothing to help you deal with problems that appeared to be so much bigger than you were.

If this happens to you today it actually helps if you identify your emotional age at this moment. You have suddenly returned or flipped all the way back to your original very young and very vulnerable state. But today it is only a temporary state.

Thoughts, words  and feelings ….

“It’s all too much!; I just can’t cope any longer”  “I just can’t work it out”. “I just can’t go on” “I am lost”. “I give up”. “I shouldn’t have to do this”. “I’m  frightened”.

Accompanied by a sense of loss about “essential resources”.

There is just not enough …….. …. time, money, energy, etc etc.” I don’t have enough power, I don’t have enough skills, I don’t have enough space, I don’t have enough joy, I don’t have enough love, I don’t have any friends, I don’t have enough brain power.” “I just can’t get started”.

May also be accompanied by a feeling of great tiredness.

“It’s all too hard;  I don’t want to have to do this any longer.” “Just too tired. Giving up or giving in unconditionally.

You are all grown up according to the calendar and perhaps a very successful business executive, teacher or a fellow therapist. But just at this time you have flipped out of your aware grown-up system and gone back, as we all do sometimes, into this very much younger state.

Quite quickly even as a small child you learned that there were better places to be than stuck in the pink Very Vulnerable child place. That was when you started to develop your very first set of tools. Today, you will probably find yourself moving out of the pink state quite quickly and letting other parts take on the basic everyday tasks, solving problems that the very vulnerable child state just cannot cope with.

  Pink   Orange YOUNG  Red PYRO Young Protector ZONE

Needy Child  state - Orange       Usually “I have to …..  “ but sometimes “ I should ... or I ought to ....”

There are three distinct sub groups or patterns.

1. Complaint child patterns

2. Charming Child patterns

3. Undeserved Victim patterns

In each of these patterns we send out different messages about what we need, what we feel we “must do”  and what we want to receive in return from others when we do that “must” thing for them.

All three project similar messages about needing to be protected, liked, loved or wanted. Hidden in the background of each  message is a signal that reflects a feeling it has very little power on its own and needs help getting essential needs met.

A. The Compliant Child pattern signals a willingness to fit in with more powerful people in return for protection and having lots of needs met by that person. Three of the most common compliant patterns are “Don’t rock the boat”, “Pleaser” and “Peacekeeper”. All are masks, but if  we wear them for too long we pay a heavy price. We give up on ‘me’. We seldom get to be our authentic self. We forget how to say ‘No’. We may even forget who the “real me” is.

B. Charming Child pattern - The charming child can be a fabulously successful mask, in terms of getting needs met by others. If  we wear it for too long, however, we pay the same price.

We don’t experience what it is like to be  the “real me”.  More and more, we lose touch with the authentic side of our self, who we really are.

In both cases, sooner or later your anti-pleaser the Fighter-Survivor system steps in to rescue your “real me” from oblivion.

C. The Un-equal or Undeserved Victim pattern is centred on strong inner beliefs that:

1. As the victimised person I need others to stop their unjust behaviour.

2. If they just stopped doing those things to me l would no longer feel victimised.

3. Whoever is victimising me is unfair, unjust, dishonest, unreasonable, or just plain mean.

4. There is nothing I (as the victimised individual) can do to stop this happening again and again.


In any of the needy child states, the intense young and needy energy gets in the way and makes it harder for you in this state to see things clearly. Much worse is the effect on other people. Consciously or unconsciously or both (it doesn’t matter which) other people will feel your intense neediness and will react in one of these ways:

1. Doubt or disbelief by those who could help you. Danger: The more you overplay or over dramatise the situation from these positions the lower your credibility with grown-up stable helpers or people using their rational minds.

2. Desertion by people who started out helping you. Danger. Your excessive young and too needy energy plus your over dramatised helplessness can drive genuine people (especially professionals) away. They notice when their time and energy is not being matched by a growing sense of self empowerment in you.

3. Manipulating Over controlling or Bullying by people you expected to help you.

Danger.  In these young and needy states you are advertising your readiness to comply, to give up your rights and your own power or even surrender in exchange for having your needs met.The bully or manipulator will sense this and drain your resources until you have nothing left to give. Why would you want this kind of person to meet your needs? Why would you expect them to? Commonly the answer later on was “I didn’t think they were like all the others”.

4. Other people play on your inability to stay in touch with reality - Danger. The less clearly you can see your life and the less you feel grown-up the more your sense of reality becomes blurred. Or you may resort to excessive black or white (polarised) thinking. So the more open you are to all kinds of control and manipulation by others, always at your expense.

5. Pressure by others to join them in medicating rather than fixing.  Danger. Addicts of all kinds will seek out “friends” with too much needy child energy because it is so easy to get them involved in medicating, trying new substances, excessive use of current substances (alcohol; drugs; prescriptions;food) or processes (gambling; shopping; sex; risky adventures). Workaholics (yes they really are addicts) will seek people with needy child energy to assist them, drive them to exhaustion then dump them.

6. Pressure by others to purchase expensive programs that promise to fix everything and empower you in almost magical ways with a minimum of effort on your part.

In the end a Young Fighter-survivor system usually steps in to change this situation. It is seldom the best part to do this but it is better than being stuck in the needy child places. As you will see below, when you can access them, a rational mind or better still a self-aware grown up system can do a much better job.

Young Fighter - Survivor systems - Red         “You must ....  or else I will ....... ”

Young Fighters Survivors are powerful but may over-react in a “young” way when feeling too vulnerable themselves and not seeing things clearly.  They are specialists, which means they automatically employ the same emotional tool s or follow the same patterns every time.

The Emotional Age of a typical Fighter-Survivor is still quite young. These  parts  developed early in life and they helped you, as a child, develop the skills you needed to survive. Some are quite powerful when it comes for fighting to maintain survival, but many of them over-react in a “young” way.

One of their particular difficulties that they often do not see things clearly.  


Blaming people or situations outside of me rather than looking for solutions or ways to change.

Exaggerating or distorting an issue.

Criticising, generalising, stereotyping

Forecasting catastrophes that may never happen

They often use a lot of energy judging or looking for flaws in other people.

One of the unfortunate outcomes when Fighter-survivors try to solve problems with other people  is that they don’t have a very good success rate. They help you survive but they don’t get things fixed very often.

The Young Fixer systems -  Yellow  - “I will ...  or  You will .... “

When the young fixer systems start to take over things begin to be sorted out.

Fixers certainly can act a little older on the emotional age scale. They also feel more confident than the fighter-survivors. Fixers use tools that are less automatic more selective but their approach to fixing things and problem solving still shows child like elements.

Fixer tools  are seldom able to look at issues clearly from both sides. They still see too many solutions as ”outside of me” or requiring others to do most of the fixing. So fixer  parts  commonly place a strong emphasis on their need to control other people.

Fixers more aware that any of our systems that see solutions as “outside of me”  tends to be a bit out of touch with reality and still a bit young emotionally.

Typically these tools often have us talking and acting like ‘parents’ but their energy, even as they are doing this, is still that of a young fixer, not a more balanced grown up fixer. They project  excessive over-confidence and may say things like“ Of course I am sure” to hide their reality that they are not at all sure about things.

Young Pusher Driver systems - Darker yellow    “I think I will do ..(x)..…… and that will fix it ….... “

Feeling much stronger. Rational mind is now starting to share some of the work. Thinker Fighters use emotional tools that work better by looking at problems first then analysing, arguing and reasoning, but often with an eye to winning rather than resolving the problem.


STAR Thinker Fixer systems - dark green     “How can we fix it  ...?”

Emotional Age systems are growing and feeling more confident.  Thinker Fixers work with the Rational mind so it can now help more by providing the tools to look at issues clearly from both sides, then analyse, reason and resolve issues.  However this is not always accompanied by a mature outlook.

STAR Rational Analytical Mind takes over - Bright green   “I decide to  ....”

This marks a big step forward in emotional age.  At this point reasoning and logic tools take over from the younger automatic patterns and can consciously over-ride many of them. Reality is becoming clearer.

Not so skilled yet at integrating feelings in decision making.

The more  I can think rationally and analyse the issues and see things from two or more different points of view the better I feel I am at solving my problems.

The more I think through a problem rationally the stronger I feel and the less my emotional pain.

However, somehow I still can’t fix everything. I know I am “good enough” but deep down inside I sometimes still feel “not good enough”. It seems to me that there are some things that rational thinking cannot get to or fix.

STAR Explorer - Aqua     “I choose to ........”

Starting to grow my self awareness. As my emotional age grows so I become conscious of my  developing self-aware grown-up parts. Your tools are now well organised and you are becoming better at choosing just the right tool for each task. You can also use several tools at the same time to improve the results.

Problem solving is getting better. Less emotional pain.

For more information click on

What it is like When you are in the Green Zone


Growing Aware systems - - Light blue “I can change and I can choose  ........”

Emotional Age and Emotional Intelligence are growing. Power and control issues are less important than being authentic.

Realising at last that controlling others doesn’t help me feel better inside or fix anything inside me.

Less interest in power and control issues. I am starting to feel good enough inside.

Growing sense of grown-up self-awareness and balanced self-empowerment. Feeling good enough lots of the time.

Emotional wounds healing. More vulnerable but feeling self protected in ways that don’t get me into blaming or controlling others or trying to take their power away from them.

Aware Thinking and Feeling (integrated) and Growing up Self Awareness System - Blue

Integrating Aware thinking and Feeling  - Emotional Age and Emotional Intelligence are both growing together. Seeing reality even more clearly. Combining feelings with reasoning gives a more balanced view. Better at noticing what I am doing and saying and feeling.

I accept myself as I am. I no longer need validation from others (though it’s nice when it happens). I can do almost anything I want to. Nothing seems “too much” for me  any more!

SAGE - Self-Aware Grown-up System. Purple   

 “I am the real ‘me’ .....”

Strong Emotional Intelligence. Strong Rational thinking yet flexible and balanced with powerful empathy, intuition and spirit. Power and control issues replaced by loving and sharing skills. Welcoming growth and change.

I am  now  the ‘me’ I was always meant to be, my Authentic self! - Self-loving and self honouring, aligned with my own value systems.

I march to the beat of my own drum. I am no longer bound by other people’s rules. I can change and adapt because I am flexible and have the power to make my own choices.

For more information click on

What it is like When you are in the Blue Zone

NOTE:  A Flip is a sudden automatic shift from one position on the Wheel to another position or pattern, usually right over to the opposite side.

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This website is only a very short summary of Emotional Age Awareness.  For a full explanation and understanding  read  my FREE book ”Introduction to Flying Awareness”

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