See the world through the eyes of your inner child. The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.
You are sitting across from a therapist in a room. She looks at you, and ask you a very important question,
“Keith, can you describe significant events from your childhood that you have carried with you throughout life?”
You take a deep breath while closing your eyes, and start to unravel the past story that still haunts you to this day.
Psych2goers, have you ever heard of the term “inner child”?
According to the American Journal of Psychotherapy (2018), the notion of an inner child is advocated by some therapists as a primary subconscious force. Inner child is defined as the child the client once was. When they are growing up, the client might lose the connection with this inner child.
Assagioli (1973) stated that the inner child is a psychosynthesis of all walks of life, the transition from childhood to an old age. It is also stated that we do not leave behind each developmental age, instead we will carry it along with us throughout our lives and it creates a little portion of all that we are.
When you are growing up, you may carry your baggage in multiple forms, beliefs, and values.
Let’s say you, as a child, had witnessed how your father was abusive to your mother, you may have built a really thick impenetrable wall around your heart, that causes you to reject the idea of a marriage altogether.
Or…maybe you have the memory of your favourite toy car being thrown into the dustbin during one of your mother’s angry outbursts.
Psych2goers, now let’s take a look on 7 ways that you can do to heal your inner child:
- Acknowledge your inner child
First and foremost, in order to heal your inner child, you need to acknowledge your inner child. It is a necessary step to get in touch and be open to explore your relationship with your inner child, rather than resisting it.
Close your eyes, and think of some important experiences during your childhood. Yes, there will be positive experiences, but there could also be hurtful and upsetting memories. Acknowledging simply means you recognize and accept things that lead to pain in childhood (Raypole & Klein, 2021).
2. Listen to what your inner child has to say
Next week is going to be your wedding anniversary. You are planning a special date for the special day. When the special day arrives, you wait for your spouse to come back home, but suddenly he calls you and says he has to spend an extended time in his workplace. Even though you know that your spouse really wants to spend time with you, you cannot help but feel frustrated, upset, and rejected. When he arrives home late at night, you show your frustration in a childlike way, you stomp off to your room, and slam the door on his face.
Now, let’s analyze the above scenario through the lens of an inner child of the wife.
The fact that the husband suddenly has to cancel the important celebration triggers a memory when she was a child. Perhaps the feeling that she feels is similar to what she has experienced when she was a child, when her parents had to cancel playdates, her birthday party and other important celebrations because they were too busy.
Listen to your inner child. Instead of pushing the feelings away, accept them so that you are in a better place to validate the distress that you have experienced when you were young (Raypole & Klein, 2021).
3. Write a letter
Dear Little Inner Child Maria,
I am penning down this letter to you because I want to get to know you. I want to make friends with you. However, I am fully aware that this will not be an easy task after neglecting you for so many years, but I will try to make up for it. I promise.
First things first: You are alright. It’s okay.
I know you are in pain.
But I’m here to hold your hand, equipped with better tools and knowledge.
A research psychologist, Dr. Diana Raab stated one thing that you can do to heal your inner child is to write a letter about what happened in your childhood that still causes pain to this day. Pen it down from the lens of an adult, giving your inner child the perspective and explanations for painful situations that you could not really comprehend back then. You will also be comforted and receive consolation by writing a letter to your inner child.
4. Give meditation a try
“How do you feel?”
“What do you need from me?”
“How can I support you?”
Above are some questions that you can ask your inner child. One way to obtain the answers to these questions is by meditation. By meditating, you will be more self-aware and can sit with any feelings that you experience without trying to repress them, which can send a message to your inner child that it is alright to experience emotions and express them in healthy ways. Apart from that, you can engage in visualization meditation to establish a connection with your inner child.
You can visualize a lush, beautiful garden or any kind of place which brings out the feelings of safety and empowerment from you. This will be your safe place. Then, imagine that your younger self has entered your safe place, hug them and make them feel at home. Then ask your inner child the question, listen to the response, embrace them, thank them, and bid them farewell.
5. Bring back the joys of childhood
Perhaps as a child, you lack positive experiences. Maybe you have to work and shoulder the responsibility to help the family instead of just having fun and being a child. Therefore, try to connect with a joyful and fun side to help heal the pain of what you have been missing out when you were a child.
Try to enjoy small pleasures and schedule regular time for lightheartedness so that you can revive the joyful emotions of youth. Maybe it is raining, and you go outside and dance in the rain, and have a fun time splashing the water and jumping around. Maybe you are at the beach and get yourself and your spouse buried in the sand by your kids.
6. Leave the door open
Healing is a continuous process and it is an open-ended journey. As you move forward in life, you can always refer and listen to your inner child in order to heal any remaining wounds. Always get in touch with your inner child, provide them love and compassion. By connecting with your inner child, you will get connected with more challenges from your past, but at the same time, you can learn how to heal those challenges and also become more spontaneous, playful, and view life with a greater sense of wonder.
7. Talk to a therapist
If you are intrigued to explore your past and getting to know your inner child, you can start searching for a therapist who is offering psychodynamically oriented psychotherapy or inner child therapy. This will help you to be aware of how your past experiences can affect your life, relationships, and overall well-being.
By doing inner child work, you can resolve childhood emotions, memories, and traumas that you still carry as baggage inside of you and move away from living in the pain of the past. When we love and heal our inner child, we will start to love ourselves and then share that love to others.
The American Journal of Psychotherapy. (2018, June 1). Reclaiming the inner child in cognitive-behavioral therapy: The complementary model of the personality. American Journal of Psychotherapy. Retrieved October 29, 2021, from https://psychotherapy.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.20180008.
Assagioli R. The conflict between the generations and the psychosynthesis of the human ages. New York: Psychosynthesis Research Foundation; 1973.
Bradshaw J: Healing the Shame That Binds You. Deerfield Beach, FL, Health Communications, 2005 Google Scholar
Raypole , C., & Klein , A. (2021, October 21). 8 tips for Healing your inner child. Healthline. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/inner-child-healing.