Do you sometimes wish you could have more control over your feelings and actions? Does your knowledge not match with your emotions and actions? Do you feel you are ruled by your subconscious? And you have no clue how to take control of this part? Chances are big your inner child is shouting out loud, trying to catch your attention.
I have found myself often in this situation, wondering what spiritual book to read or which meditation to do next to alleviate my suffering. I knew on an intellectual level exactly what to do and feel. But I just couldn’t conjure up my desired feelings!
One fine day I got the golden tip from my mum to read a book about healing my wounded inner child. Initially, I was reluctant to this idea. I didn’t like the idea of talking to some “imaginary” part of myself. Doing such a crazy thing would only make me feel more desperate and depressed. On the other hand, I felt that this “inner child” was maybe not as imaginary as I initially thought. Not knowing what else to do, I read the book and gave it a try. Now, I am glad I did. In this post I will explain how you can heal yourself by connecting with your inner child.
What exactly is an inner child?
The (wounded) inner child is the part of us that has taken over false beliefs and trauma’s from our childhood. It’s the part of us that can’t think logically about a certain issue but reacts with painful memories or patterns from the past. If, for example, you have had very critical parents, your inner child might be overly sensitive to criticism. At the same time, it can be very critical towards others because it thinks that this is normal behavior. People who have had more accepting parents will be less personally offended by criticism. Their inner child has learned that it’s still loved even though it’s not perfect.
The inner child does not have to be wounded and traumatized. When it’s healthy it’s creative, spontaneous, explores, has fun and wants to learn new things. It makes us laugh and lets us shine. But unfortunately, most of us have to deal with their wounded inner child first before they can access that shiny part in them. Being aware of your childhood wounds is helpful. But this alone won’t prevent most people from continuing their old patterns. Just like a real child, it needs care and attention (and not logical explanations) in order to calm down and heal. This is why it’s so important to connect with the inner child.
Connecting with your inner child
Interacting with your inner child doesn’t mean you have to examine your past in detail and you have to understand everything that went wrong. As I said, knowing and understanding your past is helpful, but that’s not where the magic happens. It happens in the connection with this forgotten part of yourself.
The years of denial sometimes make it difficult to get in touch with your inner child. In order to connect with it, you need to take time. After years of abandoment, you need to prove that you care. One single conversation is not going to help, you need to consistently show up for your inner child and make up for those years.
The most effective way to communicate in the beginning is to write down dialogues between you and your inner child, especially when it is upset. Not only will you be surprised by the information it reveals to you, but also by the fact that over time it will become less and less reactive to triggers. It will start to feel the inner safety and security it has been lacking all those years.
You will start to notice that the many things you had known on an intellectual level suddenly start to merge into your being. Things that used to trigger you, leave you with a knowing smile on your face. You will trust life, yourself and others a lot more. Most probably you will start laughing a lot more, do more spontaneous things and pick up creative activities.
How to treat your inner child
In order for your inner child to feel safe and secure, it is very important to allow it all the feelings it has. Most of us internalised the idea that it is bad to have negative emotions and we are only loved when we feel positive emotions. We know now on an intellectual level that this is not the case, but still we end being angry at ourselves (our inner child) whenever we have negative feelings. This is the time to make amends and to love your inner child unconditionally. It is this unconditional love and attention it has lacked for so long. And it’s the only remedy that will really heal your inner child, and therefore you.
Whenever you feel your inner child is upset, just hold it like you would hold a dear friend. We tend to scold ourselves for having negative experiences, but would we tell our best friend to just man up and get over his ex girlfriend in just a week? No. So, why should we treat ourselves this way?
I really understand that I need to care more for myself, but I simply can’t befriend myself with the concept of the inner child…
If interacting with your inner child is too much of an abstract idea, there are other ways to heal without direct communication. Generally it’s about staying true to oneself and understanding what you really want.
Being authentic is essential. Learn how to say no and define your boundaries. Accept that you are always good enough, even if you can’t please everyone. Also not your ego. Try to let go of perfectionism and let yourself fail without judgement.
Certain practices such as yoga, meditation, activities in nature, moderate sports, lighting candles, preparing tasty food etc. are also good to nourish your inner child. Just give yourself and your body the attention you wished to get from your caregiver by meditating for example. Or take up activities you loved to do as a child, such as rollerblading or painting.
Since I discovered my inner child self love suddenly took on a new dimension. I finally realized which part of myself really needed the love. Realizing how you mistreated yourself for many years can be painful. But at the same time it’s one of the most valuable realizations you can have. Forgive yourself for neglecting yourself and grant yourself the love you deserve.