Healing the Inner Child
Believe it of not, our childhood upbringing, experiences and conditioning has the most profound affect on who we are today.
We come into the world as somewhat of a blank slate. As we go through life from a toddler to adolescence and beyond, the experiences that we live through shape our thoughts, beliefs and perception of the world and the people around us. For most of us, at some point in our lives, we have experienced trauma. When most people think of trauma, they think of something physical like a car accident (which can certainly be traumatic), however, trauma can be any deeply distressing or disturbing experience. For example, having a toxic relationship with a parent or being betrayed by someone you once loved. (Or how about being in the midst a global pandemic while watching people of melanated skin getting gunned down in the street)?
For a lot of us there comes a time in our lives where we begin to feel unfulfilled, broken, or like there is a disconnect of some sort. For some we may be angry, resentful or easily triggered. For others we may feel like we are repeating the same cycles over and over again, and no matter how hard we try, we fall into the same habits that we've tried many times overcome.
This is where healing the inner child comes in.
What is the inner child?
Your inner child is the link between your present and past experiences. It's what represents your lived experience of all life stages. Our early experiences play a significant role in our development as an adult. When childhood experiences negatively affect you, your inner child may continue to carry these wounds until you address the source. The inner child is the part of you that needed the most love coming up. The part of you that was most greatly affected by the environment you grew up in and the trauma you endured.
Have you ever met a person that just seems so free? Like they don't have a worry in the world? They appear lighthearted, playful, happy and fun? That is representative of a healthy inner child. They've broken free from the wounds of their past and that allows them to live life on their own terms rather than with the conditioning they were born into.
When you have an injured or traumatized inner child, you may face challenges as an adult, particularly when triggered by events that bring up memories of past wounds. And sometimes we don't realize that there is a hold on us; especially when we have gone through life for so many years seemingly unaffected. Its not until something happens whether big or small that that inner core gets triggered in a way that brings up unresolved trauma. And sometimes we can take on the attitude of, "this is how I've always been," and that is simply because we have found a way to numb ourselves from the real issue.
This is why it is so important to heal the inner child. Healing your inner child means to address the needs that weren't met as child and heal the attachment wounds you've developed as a result. As an adult, it is very common to harbor certain feelings, emotions and beliefs from our past. Many of us have felt unheard as a result of trauma or from growing up in toxic environments. A lot of times these experiences manifest themselves in unhealthy habits and coping mechanisms in our adult lives. Some turn to smoking or alcohol as a way to escape reality. Some people turn to sex as a form of rebellion. Many people overcompensate because they never received the kind of love that made them feel secure. Some of us become addicted to food. We learn to self sooth in unhealthy ways due to the unresolved trauma.
By healing our inner child, we begin to create the safety and security our younger selves have always needed. By doing so, the positive traits of our inner child have room to shine. This allows us to free our present and make room for future manifestations and the ability to live life in a way that makes us feel whole. It allows our inner curiosity, and our limitless capacity to live, love and thrive to come into fruition like never before.
How to connect with your inner child
Deeper understanding of your past self is the key to enjoying improved health and well-being in present life. It’s normal to feel a little unsure about the idea of an inner child. The ideas is to look at this “child” as simply a representation of your past experiences.
Here are my top tips for connecting with your inner child:
1. Let Children be your Guide
Children can teach us a lot about life. Children live with pure innocence and have a true gift of living in the moment and finding joy in simple things. As adults we have learned to suppress certain aspects of our past which makes them difficult to remember. If you struggle with remembering enjoyable childhood experiences, creative play with children can help revitalize these memories and help you remeber the enjoyment of simpler times.
For example, if you've experienced a lot of toxicity or periods of trauma, living in the moment can help you let your guard down and and stir up positive feelings.
2. Spend time doing things you used to enjoy
Think about the things you joyed in childhood. Maybe you enjoyed riding your bike around the neighborhood. Maybe you enjoyed fishing or skipping rocks in the lake. Maybe you spent the summer at your grandmothers house playing with animals. Do you ever wonder why you stop doing those things? When is the last time you did something in your adult life simply because it made you happy?
Enjoying creative activities is a great way to let your active mind rest. When you allow yourself to get lost in the positive emotions that you experience when doing something you love, this connection to the emotions of your youth takes us back to our inner child.
3. Start Journaling
The intention of journaling is to create a safe space to express yourself honestly without the opinions, pressures or expectations of the outside world. Remember, your inner child is the core of who you are, the part of you that may have held onto experiences and emotions that you've been carrying throughout life all along. Having a safe space to simply express what's in your heart is a great tool for healing. The key is honoring your inner child's perception of their own experiences without filtering or correcting them.
4. Breathwork and Meditation
Meditation is a powerful too that can help you practice acknowledging feelings that come up in your life. Its about creating space for mindfulness and awareness. Meditation comes in many forms and as you continue to practice in a way that works best for you, you will continue to bring awareness the emotions you have harbored throughout the years. Meditation also helps you find ways to express your emotions in a healthy way. This helps validate your inner child’s feelings by helping them to realize that it’s okay to have emotions and let them out.
I recommend finding a meditation practice that works best for you. You can google or YouTube "meditation" to get started and explore different variations such as meditation for sleep, guided meditations, or meditation for healing or stress.
Here are a few of my favorites on YouTube:
Rising Higher Meditation