Healing your inner child serves as a catalyst for compassion, growth and transformation. In every single individual’s childhood there were needs that were not met. Where inner child work begins, feelings of inadequacy dissipate, and the needs that were not met in childhood no longer hold you back. Inner child work helps you show up more authentically in your important relationships and for yourself, leading to vital healing and transformation.
We are all at a different point in life, and inner child work has the power to help you heal deep seated wounds. Inner child work requires getting in touch with your own subconscious in order to integrate and heal past hurts, while encouraging more authentic arrival in the present moment. Inner child work also helps with healthy acknowledgement of true feelings. This creates space to face and nurture feelings that were rejected and perhaps labeled as inappropriate, dramatic or “too much” along the way.
Without inner child work there may be avoidant behavior or the numbing of necessary feelings. Integrating the subconscious with the conscious is an important part of evolving along your life journey.
Getting to Know Your Inner Child
The inner child is emotionally based, and more embodied. As adults we are usually more intellectual with thoughts and words, and less emotional and embodied in our own self-expression. The inner child is curious, enthusiastic and creative, but in adulthood it is easy to fall out of touch with these important qualities.
As a child you were naturally more impressionable, less rigid in your ways, and usually, you were unconsciously going with the flow. Inviting this fluidity to adulthood supports ease and acceptance along your life journey.
Rupture without repair often happens in childhood and leaves the residue of unresolved or unclear feelings, and uncertainty about past or present circumstances. We are not aware of the programming that happens in childhood and unfortunately we are not able to undo this programming until we are ready to evolve in adulthood.
Reparenting ourselves in love is a necessary part of healing in adulthood. Reparenting means facing the inner child and creating more safe, secure inner and outer environments based on your childhood circumstances, and unmet childhood needs. When we reparent ourselves in love we take a look at past traumas including emotional abuse or physical neglect, and answer the question, what did I need in that moment?
Covering up past traumas is the norm amongst adults because many individuals believe they are alone with their past traumas and pains. Inner child work reminds us we are not bad or wrong, but instead worthy of love and belonging. The inner child’s most important and influential traits are able to come forward with this sort of work. Furthermore, generational wounds are healed by facing and reparenting the inner child.
When thinking of a trying time in your childhood it is important to imagine giving yourself what you actually needed in that moment as a more evolved version of your parent/s or guardian/s; as a more evolved and empowered version of your younger self; or as yourself now.
Here are some signs your inner child may need healing:
Being reactive. Are you quick to detach or do you quickly turn to anger?
Being overly independent. Are you pushing others away in adulthood to protect yourself from potentially being challenged or hurt?
Struggling with emotional or mental health. You may suffer from depression, difficulty sleeping, weight gain or loss, feeling unmotivated, struggling to stay productive at work, or anxiety.
Relationship struggles. This can look like being avoidant or dismissive of your own needs, or your partners needs, gaslighting, and anxiety and fear related to trying to please partner above all else.
Fear of abandonment or rejection. This can show up in any of the important relationships in your life.
How to Start Working with Your Inner Child
Participating in activities that stimulate all of your senses, and being fully present in these experiences allows you to experience life like a child does-- through body language and intuition. This stimulates the right brain, associated with emotional expression, creativity and intuition.
Breath helps move us from a state of fight-or-flight, to a state of rest-and-digest but most importantly breath anchors us to the present moment. Closing your eyes, tapping into all five senses, and being fully present in your body is a great way to get in touch with the more childlike part of yourself. While breathing, think about one thing you smell, one thing you hear, one thing you taste, and one thing you feel. When your mind wonders, come back and observe the quality and quantity of your breath.
Find something to make and completely detach from the outcome. Try a new recipe, draw, paint, or read a graphic novel. As we grow older we sometimes lose our ability to be openly creative and expressive.
Not only is collecting things childlike, it connects you completely to the present moment. Collecting is truly about the experience, this reminds us that the gifts are in the journey, not the destination.
MEDITATE + VISUALIZE
Meditation can support visualization. Take a few moments to come fully into the present moment, become aware of your breath, your body and any residual tension you may be holding. You can use your meditation time as a time to visualize your younger self, showing up to reparent yourself and envision yourself accepted, whole, and supported in your feelings, expression, and journey.
What did you need more of when you were a child? Attention? Play? Unconditional love? Security? Journal with the intention of bringing your inner child forward, creating a safe space in the pages of your journal. Express yourself honestly and openly in the pages of your journal. There is no need to filter or correct anything that comes up for you.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS
Many different feelings will come up. Feelings of anger, resentment, frustration, regret, fear, and confusion may surface. These feelings may be towards your parents or guardians, or towards yourself. It is vital to be compassionate and kind to yourself. Take time for examination and reparenting yourself in love.
As important as this work is, pay close attention to when you are in need of a break or in need of support. A therapist, friend, partner, spiritual guide, or coach can be helpful in supporting you on your healing journey. Navigating these feelings will lead you to peace, acceptance, understanding, and transformation.