You are in the middle of preparing dinner when you hear a loud crash coming from the kitchen.
You race in to find that your little one has knocked over the milk jug and spilled its contents all over the bench. As you start to clean up the mess, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed and frustrated. This is the third time this week your kids have left milk out on the bench, and it’s really starting to test your patience.
But as you’re cleaning up, you notice something strange. Instead of feeling like yourself, you’re suddenly feeling like a small child again. You’re feeling helpless and frustrated, just like when you were little and your parents would yell at you for making a mess.
This is your inner child.
It’s the part of you that’s been hurt and neglected, and it’s the part of you that’s still trying to protect yourself from those same feelings of pain and abandonment.
Most people have an inner child part of themselves that is innocent and vulnerable. This part can often get left behind as you grow older and develop a more mature persona. But if you don’t attend to the needs of your inner child, it can lead to self-sabotaging behaviours including perfectionism, over-achievement and codependency.
But when you connect with and care for your inner child, you tap into a wellspring of creativity and vitality that can support you through life’s challenges and really flourish.
Fortunately, there is a way to address the needs of your inner child and heal the wounds you developed all those years ago.
What is your inner child, and what role does it play in your life?
The inner child is a reflection of you at various ages throughout your childhood. You may appear in several guises, at different ages and stages of development. And when you connect with your inner-child energies they often bring along qualities specific to that time and space including our curiosity, creativity and natural enthusiasm.
Children are extremely impressionable, taking in everything around them and how their caregiver treats with them. As a result, if you experience neglect, abuse or emotional abandonment during your childhood, your inner child will often pick up on these negative messages and store them away. The inner child then becomes a wounded part of youreself that can re-appear in adulthood if left unrepaired.
The inner child is also responsible for the emotions you experienced as children. If you were left to cry but weren’t heard, your inner child may feel neglected and unheard even into adulthood. Alternatively, if you felt consistently loved and supported by your caregivers, your inner child will reflect those feelings back to you in adulthood.
So what role does the inner child play in your life? Quite simply, it’s the part of you that is most vulnerable and needs love and attention in order to heal.
As adults, you have the opportunity to heal your wounded child and create safe and secure environments your younger self needs in order to thrive. But this isn’t always easy – your inner child can be very demanding!
*cue temper tantrum*
If you can learn to connect with your inner child, you can start to address the needs that have been left unmet throughout your life. This is where inner child healing comes in.
What is Inner Child Work?
Inner child work is a process of self-discovery that can help you connect with your innermost feelings and emotions. It’s about taking the time to slow down and really listen to what your inner child is trying to tell you and healing through attending to their needs. This can involve exploring your feelings and thoughts in a space free from judgement, as well as addressing any wounds or trauma you experienced during childhood.
It’s about creating a space where your subconscious is allowed to take the lead. Through this type of inner work, it becomes possible to explore your true emotions and feelings which have previously been rejected or inappropriately labelled and pushed down. Maybe you’ve been told you’re “too much” and so you dim your light and tone down your personality to simply fit in. Or maybe you’ve been told you’re not good enough and so you strive for perfectionism in everything you do.
Inner child healing allows you to peel back your everyday coping mechanisms and to fully accept and integrate your subconscious into consciousness to start to express all of who you are, including the parts that have been hidden away.
When you do inner child healing work, you create the safety and security your younger self craved. In doing so, you begin to unlock your natural gifts such as your inner curiosity and your limitless capacity to love.
This can be incredibly healing in and of itself, but it also has the potential to heal generational trauma. In order to heal generational trauma, you need to start by healing your inner child. This allows you to break the cycle of pain and dysfunction that has been passed down from one generation to the next, meaning your children won’t have the same wounds that you have healed in yourself.
If your inner child is carrying around unresolved pain or trauma from childhood, this pain will often get passed down to your own children.
How Does Inner Child Healing Heal Generational Trauma?
It’s been shown that when you don’t address our inner child wounds, they tend to get played out in your relationships – both personal and professional. For example, if you were abandoned or neglected as children, you may find yourself attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable or abusive. Alternatively, if you were constantly criticised as children, you may be drawn to relationships with people who are overly critical.
The good news is that inner child healing can help you heal these wounds and break the cycle of pain.
Inner child healing begins to heal generational trauma by creating a space for the unmet needs of your inner child to be addressed. This allows you to develop self-compassion and empathy, which are essential in order to build healthy relationships.
When you start to meet the needs of your inner child, you also start to meet the needs of those around you. You become more compassionate and understanding, and you’re less likely to repeat unhealthy relationship patterns from your own childhood.
Inner child work is about taking responsibility for your own healing – it’s not about blaming or shaming your parents. It’s about recognising that your inner child has been carrying around these wounds for years and that it’s time to finally give them the love and attention they deserve.
The inner child is a part of you that carries all of your unmet needs from childhood. When you can start to meet those needs, you begin to heal the relationship with yourself.
Symptoms of a Wounded Inner Child
If you have a wounded inner child, you may notice some of the following signs:
- You’re highly reactive or easily triggered by situations.
- Your self-worth and sense of identity is placed in caring for others.
- You believe the only way to receive love is to cater to others’ needs.
- You try to rescue others as a way to heal from your own vulnerabilities.
- You’re unable to show your true emotions (constantly hiding behind a mask).
- You’re a ‘Yes person’ and tend to repeat unhealthy patterns in your relationships.
- You have a deep fear of abandonment or rejection.
- You overcompensate by being excessively people-pleasing.
- You have poor emotional and mental health.
How can you connect with your inner child and begin to nurture (reparent) you?
There is no one right way to do inner child healing work, as it will look different for everyone. However, here are four simple steps that can help get you started:
Step One: Get in Touch with Your Inner Child
The first step is to get in touch with your inner child. This can be done through various exercises including writing, drawing or simply talking to yourself as if you were speaking to a child. The goal is to start becoming aware of what your inner child looks like, sounds like and feels like. Once you have a sense of this, you can begin to communicate with them and start to address their needs.
One of the best ways to connect with your inner child is through meditation. As you quiet your mind, you’ll be able to access those younger parts of yourself more easily. In particular, visualisation exercises can be helpful in connecting with your inner child. For example, you might imagine taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting some of the key moments from your childhood.
Step Two: Identify Your Inner Child’s Needs
The next step is to identify the needs of your inner child. This may be difficult as your inner child may not be able to verbally communicate this with you using language you expect. Depending upon the age you are meeting (ie a toddler), using images, movement, intuitive noises may be more telling. However, through introspection and reflection, you can start to get a sense of what they are longing for. Common needs of a wounded inner child include love, attention, safety, security and validation.
Step Three: Meet Those Needs
Once you have identified the needs of your inner child, it’s important to start meeting them as best as possible. This may involve taking some time out for yourself each day, setting boundaries in your relationships or simply spending time doing something your inner child enjoys. The key is to be consistent with meeting their needs and not to over-commit yourself as this can place undo stress on you.
Step Four: Forgive and Heal
The final step is to forgive yourself and others for any hurts that have been inflicted in the past. This can be a difficult process, but it’s important to understand that everyone makes mistakes. By forgiving, you are freeing yourself from the chains of the past and allowing yourself to move forward into the future.
To sum up…
When you heal your inner child, you allow yourself to blossom into our fullest potential both as individuals and mothers. You no longer have to carry the weight of your pain and wounds from the past, and you can finally experience the joy and contentment that comes with true self-love.
Remember to be patient and gentle with yourself as you go through this process – it’s not going to happen overnight. With time and effort, however, you can create a more compassionate relationship with yourself and find the inner peace you’ve been searching for.