Your Inner Child: Your Best Friend Who Needs Your Love
Posted on 27th June 2022 at 22:22
Read below my new article published in Brainz Magazine.
Let’s see what the inner child concept is, how we can nurture our inner child and help it heal to live a happier and more fulfilled life in the present as the adults that we are.
The concept of the inner child was first introduced by psychologist Carl Jung after he analysed his own childlike inner-feelings and emotions. Jung postulated that it was this inside part of all of us that influenced all we do and the decisions that we make. He said that inner children were us when we were kids that never grew up. Jungians refer to as a puer or puella complex. The Jungian notion of the puer aeternus (male) or (female) puella aeterna - the eternal child - sets the basis for what has come to be commonly known as the "inner child”.
What is the inner child?
To begin with, let’s clarify that the inner child is real. Not literally. Nor physically of course. But figuratively, metaphorically real. Each one of us has an “inner child” living inside. Yes, you have an inner child. I have an inner child. We all do. Our inner child is a part of ourselves that has been present ever since we were conceived, through to all stages of our development as adults. It is a part of your subconscious that has been picking up messages long before it was able to fully process what was going on (mentally and emotionally). It holds emotions, memories, and beliefs from the past as well as thoughts, hopes and dreams for the future. It is that part of ourselves that has been influenced by everything that happened to us throughout the different stage of our development.
Our inner child is a representation of ourselves at multiple points in our childhood, and it is very important to understand that we can have inner children from various ages.
The inner child can often recall good, positive and uplifting experiences as well as childhood fears, traumas, neglect or significant losses.
How can we become aware of our inner child?
By now, we know that we all have an inner child. But how can we really become aware of our inner chil? Are there any specific emotions of behaviours that could be coming from our inner child? Let’s give a few examples below.
- Our inner child remembers the pride on our parents’ face when we showed them how we were able to ride our bike.
- Our inner child remembers the feeling of excitedly waiting for dad to come back from work, our hearts brimming with joy and love when he gave us a big hug saying he was so proud of us.
- Our inner child remembers feeling invited to a friend’s birthday party and feeling so happy, lucky, and loved.
- Our inner child is present when we graduate and start our first job, feeling so proud.
- Our inner child is present when we get our first apartment and start a life of our own.
- Our inner child is also the one who felt the tears run down our cheeks when mum and dad dropped us at the day care centre because they both had to go to work.
- Our inner child also remembers being ignored and bullied at school because we did not have the same fancy clothes as other kids.
- Our inner child is also present when we are teenagers, wanting so badly to be accepted and to fit in.
- Our inner child is also present when kids at school laughed at us because our dad’s signature was missing form our school forms.
- Our inner child is the part of us that feels understood, calm, happy and content when we have good times with others.
- It's also the part of us that feels crushed, let down and even betrayed when we are hurt, ignored, or lied to, when someone hurts or betrays us.
Our inner child is always communicating with us…we just need to learn to listen. The communication with our inner child is permanent and it’s crucial that we start paying attention to build the happy life we are entitled to.
Now, our inner child can either be calm, happy, and content (for the most part), or it can act out and make things a bit rumbly inside, standing in the way of healthy relationships and a healthy life.
Our inner child can either make it or break it when it comes to us finding happiness.
If you’re feeling frustrated or stuck in some aspect of your life, it’s most probable that your inner child is needing some attention. Stuck points can look like problems at work, in parenting, finding or keeping love, deepening relationships or setting boundaries.
How to know when your inner child is running the show…
You may notice that you are experiencing fear, perfectionism, anger, anxiety or are avoiding certain people, places or experiences. These are all ways that your inner child is attempting to feel safe. When the inner child is running the show, it will choose thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, based on subconscious beliefs or memories from the past, and based on what the inner self would need to feel safe.
Often, the inner child does not have access to the “adult self” reality and may not know about how life is different now, or how things have changed. The inner child replays the only reality it knows, the reality from the past.
Childhood emotional wounds can make you feel like you’re walking around with a ton of bricks on your back.
If your inner child is walking around with pounds of pain, you may feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. If your inner child lived with instability, uncertainty, danger, or experienced traumatic situations, it may hold you back from making changes. You may notice a fearful part, afraid of you trying new things or getting involved with some people. However, if you are wanting to move on with life you will most probably feel torn and often even stuck. Indeed, we might feel stuck when one part seeks safety and consistency, and another part seeks possibility, connection, and adventure.
As you become aware of the situation, you will need can find a middle ground to overcome any blockages and move forward. In order to have the right balance between your inner child’s needs and your adult being’s needs, it will be important for your adult self and child self to meet and get to know each other. This is the first step to creating a collaborative team- one which will allow your adult needs and inner child needs to be met and one which will allow your adult self to take control in situations during which your child self would have previously interfered.
What are inner child work and healing?
Have you ever stopped and paid attention to the little voice inside of you? The one that might remind you of your younger self. No matter how old we grow, we carry our younger selves within us on a daily basis.
Perhaps our hurt 10-year-old self-shows up when our best friend doesn't answer our phone call and we start wondering if we have done anything wrong, or our misunderstood 15-year-old self comes out when our partner doesn’t answer our text messages and we start feeling insecure… Caring for this younger version of ourselves is what inner child work is all about.
Inner child work, often also referred to as inner child healing, is a way to address our needs that haven't been met as children and heal the emotional and attachment wounds we have developed. This inner work is allowing the subconscious part of ourselves to take the lead. It is the act of going inside ourselves, to explore our true feelings and parts of us that may have been rejected and labelled as "inadequate" or "too much" by others. By going within and starting the inner work, we begin bringing to light our everyday coping mechanisms (being avoidant, numbing of our feelings, etc.) and can then fully accept and integrate our subconscious into consciousness. When we start this inner work on a subconscious level, we are planting a seed of change and once those changes are completed and have become part of your mental processes, these change will emerge into consciousness in the form of a new feeling of confidence, belief and acceptance that you are becoming the best that you can be and that it is safe for you to live the life you desire and deserve.
As children, we are very impressionable, readily absorbing what our environments and primary caregivers teach us and how they treat us. Inner child wounds, or attachment wounds, can occur when there is either a traumatic event or chronic rupture without repair. For children, a rupture without repair can look like crying out for help but being unheard by an emotionally unavailable primary caregiver. Ruptures also happen in our daily lives throughout adulthood, from when a colleague doesn’t say hi to us or when a friend doesn’t return our calls… These are just a few examples and how we internalize this determines if the experience stays a wound or if it becomes processed right there.
Destructive behaviour takes various forms: from subtle self-sabotage and self-defeating patterns to passive hostility to severe self-destructive symptoms… Commonly, destructive behaviour in adults bears the impulsive quality of childish petulance or tantrums. Or an infantile neediness, dependency, and dread of abandonment. Most adults are quite unaware of this. And this lack of conscious relatedness to our own inner child is precisely where so many behavioural, emotional and relationship difficulties come from.
In adulthood, we have a chance to heal our wounded inner child and create the safe, secure inner and outer environments our younger selves has always longed for.
It can be hard to pinpoint the exact event that is triggering us, but we can start to notice our internal patterns that have left us a subconscious trail when we start exploring our inner world.
How to know when your inner child needs healing?
What does a happy inner child feel like?
When our inner child and our “internal family” are calm, we get the green light to go ahead and try new things. We act with confidence and self-assurance, we can face failure, we allow ourselves to mess up. We don’t need to act impulsively, we don’t feel overwhelmed, or guilt stricken, and we don’t look for others’ approval or external validation.
If our inner child feels safe and nurtured, it will allow us to blossom. We will no longer operate from a place of mere survival and will be able to thrive.
How to know your inner child has some pains that need to be addressed?
We feel shame, guilt, or pain. We feel the need to constantly overachieve to get approval or a sense of belonging. We feel regularly anxious and fearful (often without “tangible” reasons). We won’t consider nor accept failure. We self-sabotage and have limiting beliefs. Our inner critic and negative self-talk are expanding. We tend to create unhealthy relationship patterns and/or avoiding relationships and love (people with attachment wounds tend to subconsciously recreate attachment patterns they experienced as a child in their adult relationships, whether romantic or not. This means they're essentially repeating patterns of childhood trauma). We tend to overvalue independence. We become highly reactive to situations, suddenly feeling very detached or irritated. Our emotional and mental health are affected (sleep issues, productivity issues, lack of motivation…). We can also sometimes develop addictive and/or destructive coping behaviours (high alcohol consumption, cheating, overeating, chronic procrastination…)
It's like an anchor. If the inner child feels unsafe and unstable, as adults, we will feel insecure, disoriented, and disorganized in life. When our inner child feels steady and secure, its anchor is deeply rooted and we feel, and come across, more confident, more self-assured, and more comfortable.
As you get to know your inner child and your inner child knows it has your attention and you are doing your best to nurture it, offer it love and provide it with its needs, it will start being more open to you.
By healing our inner child, we begin to create the safety and security our younger selves have always needed.
By doing so, the positive traits of our inner child have room to shine. We unlock our natural gifts, abilities, and our limitless capacity to love.
When we heal our inner child, we heal generations. We heal the world. And this happens as we affect and influence each other.
Ways to heal your inner child
- The very first step to me is to be aware of your inner child and to really listen to it and start bonding with it so trust can be (re)built. Be aware of your different thought patterns, feelings and behaviours and actions.
- Talk to your inner child on a regular basis. Make this ritual part of your everyday life. Start creating a relationship with your inner child. Learn about your inner child’s needs, pains, hopes, and dreams….and take steps to making them happen.
- Reassure you inner child you have got the situation in hands and that you will provide all attention, love and nurturing it needs. Create a safe space for your inner child.
- Work on reducing anxieties and fears by processing fearful memories or experiences.
- Work at developing healthy relationships that allow you to feel safe and steady in the world.
- Implement a self-care routine by creating steady and heathy eating, sleeping, exercise and hygiene patterns.
- Develop clear emotional, energetic, time and physical boundaries.
- Do what you love and create time and space for your passions and hobbies and make them part of your life.
- Start celebrating your small wins.
- Shift your inner beliefs (change the beliefs you feed yourself - therapy can be a tremendous help with this part).
Ways to connect and cultivate a relationship with your inner child
As previously mentioned, first ask your adult self to be open and possibly, vulnerable. In order for your inner child to come out of hiding and to share about what is going on or what it’s needing, we need to be open to hearing and seeing its story, curious about its life, its hopes, dreams, fears and worries.
We want your inner child to begin developing a trusting relationship with your adult self so it can share openly.
Often, we see that when the inner child has someone (adult you) who truly cares and is present with it, it can calm down and feel the feelings that it had to shove away for years. It’s often recommended to do this work with trained therapist who works with inner child work as the work can be tender and a fully trained therapist can help guide you and support the healing.
- Practice inner child meditation to tap in to how your inner child is doing and offer it some tender care and find a way to meet its needs and move forward in your adult life.
- Practice breathwork and mindfulness.
- Bring back the joys of childhood.
- Nurture your creativity.
- Practice visualization to connect with your inner child.
- Write to your inner child.
- Writes as your inner child.
- Talk to a qualified therapist.
What type of therapy is inner child work?
Inner child work can be found in many types of therapy. As an award winning, fully qualified and accredited hypnotherapist, I can say that inner child hypnosis is extremely powerful to help initiate and maintain an ongoing dialogue between the adult part of the personality and the inner child part and to lead to a reconciliation between the inner child and the mature adult. A new, mutually beneficial, and cooperative relationship can be created in which the sometimes-conflicting needs of both the adult self and the child self can be satisfied.
What is truly special about inner child work is its intention to speak to our inner child through their language, a language that is emotionally based and embodied, rather than expressed through intellectual thoughts and words.
Inner child hypnosis will look at the reparenting process, helping you become aware of your inner child, make links with your inner child, heal your inner child, and help your adult self-gain control back in situations where previously your inner child would have been taking the lead.
Hope this gives you a better understanding of the inner child concept and why it is so important to have a relationship with your inner child and hep it heal so you can thrive and move forward with confidence in your adult life.
Remind your adult self today to spend some time with your inner child!
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