Healing Your Inner Child
The concept of the “inner child” is foreign to many people—and unsurprisingly so. It’s a relatively new concept based on the archetype created by psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Contrary to what its name suggests, your inner child doesn’t refer to the part of your brain that thinks childish thoughts, but rather, it’s the accumulation of your unmet needs and suppressed emotions from childhood, as well as your childlike innocence, natural enthusiasm, and boundless creativity. These suppressed emotions and unmet needs are hidden deep within you; so deep you may not even be aware of some of them. But to put it briefly, your inner child refers to all of the built up traumas you’ve accumulated and ineffectively dealt with throughout your life.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t simply stop being a child and magically turn into an adult once you reach a certain age; the child you once were is still buried deep inside of you, and those childlike tendencies and behaviors (temper tantrums, mood swings, irrational sense of abandonment) come out all the time, whether you realize it or not. All of your experiences—both bad and good—are within you and make up who you are, what you believe, and how you operate in this world.
For many of us, the things we learned as a child from our parents, schools, and society in general had a profound effect in shaping our current belief systems, both in regards to how we view ourselves and how we see the world around us. Being told things like, “Good girls don’t dress that way,” “Sex is bad,” “You need a man to be happy,” etc. may not seem like a big deal at face value, but these phrases, although well-intentioned, ultimately shape the way we perceive our bodies and our purpose on this earth, and they’ve caused us to hold in some of our wants, needs, and emotions for fear of rejection by those closest to us.
Connecting with your inner child allows you to bring your true challenges to light so you can finally start to address the root of your phobias, fears, insecurities, and self-sabotaging tendencies instead of simply treating the symptoms.
Here are a few signs it may be time for you to heal your inner child.
· You feel there is something wrong with you in the deepest parts of yourself.
· You experience anxiety when going out of your comfort zone.
· You enjoy being in conflict with people around you.
· You have a hard time letting go of things, emotions, or people.
· You feel inadequate as a man or woman.
· You constantly criticize yourself for your supposed inadequacy.
· You have a hard time committing and trusting.
· You have deep abandonment issues and often cling to toxic relationships.
So what does inner child work involve? Well, it involves getting intimate and vulnerable with yourself. It involves being honest about what your triggers are and what kinds of rules and standards were ingrained in you by your parents, the education system, and society to help you become a “functioning” adult. As mentioned, these boundaries and rules are often well-intentioned and can potentially be beneficial because growth cannot happen without some kind of moral restraint; however, in the case of your inner child, there are still some emotions—sadness, anger, resentment, abandonment—that have resulted from feeling rejected in some way.
Connecting with your inner child is by no means an easy task. It requires deep internal reflection, and it may even require the guidance of a coach, therapist, or energy worker to facilitate digging deep, as it’s typically not something we’re accustomed to doing. Regardless, it’s an important step in becoming a more peaceful, well-connected version of yourself, and it’s absolutely possible to start diving into it on your own.
Here are some ways you can begin to connect with your inner child:
· Journal from the voice of your inner child.
· Talk to your inner child and reassure that their needs and emotions are valued.
· Meditate to get in touch with those deep, subconscious thoughts/traumas you’ve been avoiding.
· Allow yourself to play carefree and do the things you used to love doing as a child.
· Talk with a therapist either in the voice of your inner child or about the emotions your inner child is holding onto.
· Learn to re-parent yourself by nurturing and taking care of your mind, body, and spirit (cook yourself healthy meals, drink more water, set boundaries, take a healing bath).
This may all sound odd, but healing your inner child is one of the most important things you can do to mend your mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds. There are true, powerful benefits of getting in tune with your inner child, including:
· Releasing the feeling of emotional numbness you may have felt for years
· Gaining or regaining your personal power and the ability to set clear boundaries
· Learning how to take better care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually
· Embracing self-compassion and liking yourself more regardless of your flaws
· Being able to enjoy life and have fun
· Gaining self-confidence in all aspects
Although inner child work is challenging and requires brutal honesty on your part, you’ll have a renewed sense of self-belief and self-worth once you’re able to truly tap in and address the parts of yourself you’ve hidden for so long. Inner child work has the ability to help you tackle seemingly impossible psychological issues, like depression, anxiety, passive aggression, low self-esteem, anger or abandonment issues, emotional numbness, self-sabotage, and many more.
You deserve to feel light and free; you deserve to feel the ebbs and flows of all your emotions, and you deserve to love yourself totally and completely. Give your inner child the love he or she deserves!
What’s a self-love affirmation you connect with on a deep level?