Once upon a time, we were all children. Actually, our childhood self is still alive and hopefully well within us today. Our inner child is part of our psyche. It is our core being and holds all the memories, emotions, and beliefs from our past. It influences everything we do and the decisions we make.
When people ask me my age, I answer with my chronological age. Although our outer bodies age, inside of me, there still exists that ageless inner child that remains forever young at heart.
Our inner child represents our true nature with the following childlike qualities;
- Children know how to have a good time and never give up on an opportunity to play. Who doesn’t love to hear those giggles and belly laughs? Are you having fun in your life? Do you make time to relax and play?
- Children are always active. Most of us probably lead sedentary lives and need to be more physically active. Make sure you choose an activity you enjoy. Go out and play, jump for joy, and you’ll even end up sleeping better too.
- Children are spontaneous and don’t overthink everything. They are more preoccupied with being than with doing. Are you fully present in your life and enjoying the moment?
- Children’s sense of awe and wonderment makes for a lot of magic and no time to get bored. Explore the world around you. See all the beauty and positives, especially in the small things.
- Children are very accepting and kind. They are not prejudiced, nor do they judge until they are taught to do so. How often do you criticize yourself and others?
- Children trust their intuition and are always in tune with their feelings. We also know how brutally honest kids can be. Are you true to your feelings or are you stuck in the emotions of the past?
- Children are fast learners as they are always curious, have an open mind, and are not afraid to try new things. How many of you can’t wait to wake up in the morning, looking forward to new adventures?
- Children know first-hand about resilience. You can testify to their determination when they want something. Just learning to walk requires a lot of persistence. And they don’t care what others say. Are you afraid of failing? When was last time you took a risk?
- Children are known for their imagination, enthusiasm, and creativity. These qualities are not only reserved for artists. When was the last time you took out your crayons?
- Children dream big with no fears, doubts, or limitations. What are your heart’s true desires and passions?
Ever wonder why children are so lovable? Their pureness and openness are what keeps them connected to themselves and the world around them and, at the same time, make them vulnerable. The two most essential things they need from their parents are love and reassurance; they need to feel nurtured, validated, guided, safe and secure.
The essence of staying connected to our true selves is to maintain these childlike qualities. When the inner child has been denied, rejected, abandoned or neglected, these childlike qualities become stifled and replaced by childish behaviours that serve to hide the hurt.
Do you ever wonder where your inner child has disappeared?
Our inner child never really grows up or goes away. They are totally neglected and forgotten. It’s like being buried alive. But like true kids, they are always trying to get our attention. Hiding or ignoring the pain does not make it go away. It actually makes it worse. Just like the quote says, “What you resist, persists.”
Any reoccurring problems point to how our unresolved emotional past can interfere with our present-day life. The inner child may also try to get our attention through illness, low energy, and self-sabotaging behaviours.
The more we lose touch with our inner child, the less we feel connected and the more pain we feel; it’s like there is an emptiness; someone is missing in action. No matter how much success we may have on the outside, we always feel lonely, sad, anxious, shameful, and lost on the inside.
To heal, we need to develop reparenting skills. Our parents may have been absent, emotionally unavailable, or negative, and yet they served as role models along with caregivers, other relatives, teachers, books, TV, movies, friends, and society’s input.
Unless we question or are conscious of the pattern, we may end up becoming the same type of parent and treating ourselves in the very same way we were parented. Instead of complaining and blaming others for our pain, we can stop the suffering by reconnecting with our true selves. Or continue along the path of destruction by suppressing the pain with excuses and substances like excessive food, alcohol, drugs, as well as attracting all the wrong people and looking for love in all the wrong places.
Keep in mind that our parents are not the culprits here, for they grew up with their own parental influences. We are not responsible for what happened in the past because we were children, but today, as adults, we are responsible for taking care of that inner child that still has unmet needs. We may not have had the parents we wanted, but today, we can become the new kind of parent to our inner child that we yearned to have.
The messages we received when we were a child make up our belief systems and thought patterns today. What we heard and learned from our parents as well as our upbringing, will shape the way we treat ourselves and our inner child. So that’s why the first step in the healing process is to rediscover ourselves. We need to process our emotional wounds, fearful memories, and negative experiences that we have carried with us every day as part of our emotional baggage from our childhood.
Reconnect and Reparent
- Become aware and get to know our inner child. By acknowledging its presence, we can shed light on what caused the pain and begin to understand its impact.
- Recognize and embrace our inner child. Focus on addressing those unmet needs by identifying them, and getting to the roots of the emotions.
- Understand the language of our inner child. Our emotional self speaks through our feelings. Start listening and allowing our inner child to express their feelings instead of suppressing them. When we truly feel our feelings, we’re inviting our inner child to be present and validated.
- Another language our inner child understands very well is drawing. Every child in the world learns to draw before they can speak. Sometimes words are not enough or, in the child’s case, they may not know how to say what they want, so drawing helps them express themselves without any conscious restrictions. In therapy, drawing out our feelings gets us out of our adult mind and into our core being, especially when one is at a loss for words and doesn’t know how to express their feelings.
- Another line of communication is to start a dialogue by writing a letter to our inner child. Keep a journal and use a powerful technique developed by Lucia Capacchione, “Recovery of Your Inner Child.” By using your non-dominant hand for both your writing and /or drawing, we can gain direct access to the voice of our inner child and get to explore and understand our true feelings on a deeper level. Tap into the right hemisphere of your brain where the inner child resides along with the creative, emotional, and intuitive qualities. Bypass the conscious mind, which is controlled by the critical, analytical, and rational left hemisphere of your brain and governs your everyday automatic activities. Use your dominant hand when you ask a question, since it speaks for the adult and parental voices, and then respond with your non-dominant hand, which speaks for your inner child.
- Meditation and visualization can also help establish another line of communication. By making the time to be present, we can tune in and start building the trust for a healthy, intimate relationship.
- Establish healthy boundaries by taking responsibility. Take the necessary steps to fill in the gaps and address unmet childhood needs. Actions show the inner child that we are there for them and that they are not alone anymore.
- Our inner child needs to feel protected and safe beyond just providing food, clothes, and shelter. Provide the other essentials, like love, validation, guidance and encouragement.
- And last but not least, practice forgiveness.
- First on our list would be your parents. They did the best they knew how to raise you. They may have made mistakes, but we all do.
- Second, everyone else who has hurt you and with whom you hold negative feelings towards. It is easier to blame than to take responsibility, but letting go of the resentments, grudges, and anger far outweighs the benefit of holding on.
- And thirdly, yourself. Stop punishing yourself. Without forgiveness, we remain stuck and feel trapped in a vicious cycle of pain and suffering. With forgiveness, we are free as you let go of the pain, and grow from the lessons.
- It can be beneficial to find a therapist who does inner child work and can offer guidance and support for the healing process.
Become the loving parent who can help ease the burdens of being hurt and betrayed.
Learn to love, respect and care for yourself. Invite hope, joy, and magic back into your life as you reconnect and reclaim your inner child. Cultivate a healthy relationship, nurture your childlike spirit and create that special inner bond so you can come alive and be yourself.