“Inner-child work is a powerful tool for healing from psychological trauma, dysfunctional patterns, and self-harming behaviors. The inner-child is not a literal child, it is a metaphorical “little you”. The part of your psyche that is still childlike, innocent, and full of wonder.” (Rising Woman)
Healing the inner child is about growing out of and reframing mindsets that may have served us at one point, but no longer do. It is about understanding why you have constructed narratives about your worth and how to change your story now so that you may live into the highest version of yourself.
I truly believe that there is a reason for every thought, behavior, and belief that we engage in. We are multi-faceted, storing information from years past, often convincing ourselves of things that could be rooted in falsehood. Connecting to your inner child brings awareness to these things so that present life can be filled with more intention. We take back the power to live for ourselves now instead of maintaining the barriers we once did as kids.
You have gone through hard things, been subject to unfair treatment, gotten hurt by people who were supposed to love you AND still deserve a happy life. Healing the inner child is about accepting your past while simultaneously removing your current self.
So how do you do it? Great question. Like most things, getting started is the hardest part.
I’d recommend a quiet place, maybe laying down or sitting comfortably, in an environment that is not distracting. From here, close your eyes and begin to slow down your breath. Imagine yourself as the little kid you once were, in a situation that brought you pain, maybe an event that has caused internal struggle or even feels traumatic to you now. Do your best to be objective about the situation so you can understand what about it contributes to your thought processes now. The first step is all about remembering and meeting your inner child.
Once you have a grasp on what this child looks like, feels like, and thinks like, try to unravel the ways in which that child still shows up today. What are you insecure about? When do you feel alone? What gives you comfort, but proves only to be instant gratification? How do you show up in social circles? At work? When do you feel like you are your best self, and when could you do a little better?
From here you have unlimited options. You can interact with this part of you as little or as often as you’d like. Maybe you choose to write a letter (I did this) to bring even more clarity to the patterns you’d like to break. Another option could be inner dialogue, checking in, reassuring yourself that what was true then no longer is; Repeat mantras about safety and love, comfort is what we are going for.
“By connecting with our inner-child, we gain access to new information about our unhealed wounds, and the needs that may not have been met when we were actually children.” — Sheleana Aiyana
I have personally found this form of personal therapy to be most helpful in changing my behavior in social settings and interactions in general. As a highly anxious person I over think, a lot. I found, in time, that most of this stems from a fear of being unloved, left, or not accepted by the people around me. I spent a lot of my life letting that fear determine how I acted — people pleasing and high achieving. My anxiety was rooted in a story I made up about myself when I was little, that something was wrong with me and if I just did enough, no one would find out and leave.
The interesting part? None of that was true. I just believed it was and therefore carried it with me, every day. I am not healed completely (not even close), but this work is the process and I think it could be beneficial for you too.
In healing there is a lot of commitment to change. It’s not a simple fix and it’s not just about your thoughts. We must put into action the things we are trying to reframe, or we won’t have the proof that whatever we want to believe is true. We need and want to see it in order to build these strong ties of trust — with ourselves, with our loved ones, and with our community in general.
This might look like saying no, participating in things that give you energy instead of draining it, prioritizing people who prioritize you, focusing on your mental health, getting good sleep and eating nourishing food. You want to do things that make you feel good about the person you are without external voices or benchmarks giving you validation.
When you are the most confident version of you, it will have a ripple effect on the rest of your life. You have more power when you start to embody inherent worth and that’s what healing your inner child is all about.