What is our inner child, and why do they need healing? Our inner child is the part of our personality that reflects the child we once were. It includes the coping mechanisms we learned as children about how to deal with problems, emotions, and relationships. That child lives within us even as adults and it’s often that part of our personality that responds to challenges.
Therefore, if your 7-year-old self was traumatized–and it doesn’t have to be a capital T trauma, it could be the usual disappointments we all face while growing up–it is the 7-year-old self that responds to similar issues in adult life, because the hurt hasn’t healed. When childhood issues are not identified and healed, we often respond from that place of pain. Through talk therapy, meditation, and connecting with the child we once were, we can validate the feelings of hurt, and look back on early interactions without judgment.
Our inner child also holds keys to our joy, wonder, and playfulness, which we can incorporate into our lives as adults to live and love more fully in the moment. If we were taught certain behaviors were childish and we should not act a certain way, we may have left our childlike sense of wonder behind, and may benefit from reconnecting.
Where did inner child healing originate? The term inner child is commonly attributed to Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) who described the inner child in his divine child archetype. Jung’s teachings reflect his belief that we come into the world with a predetermined archetype based on his theory of collective unconscious. There are many archetypes of which the divine child is one.
The idea is that when we connect with our inner child, if they are wounded, we can heal the hurt that they felt, and then we will react as our adult self in times of stress or turmoil. If they are not hurt, we can learn joy, openness, and optimism. We can also potentially reconnect with activities that we loved as children but had abandoned.
Here is how to do an inner child meditation: become still and quiet, and focus on your breathing.
Visualize yourself as a child and talk to them. Hug the child and ask what they need from you. In this way, we start to connect with and heal the child as the adult we are now. You can let them know that everything is OK, and that they are safe and loved. If there is a particular memory that causes pain or emotional hurt, you may want to speak to a therapist or psychologist about it. You can also rewrite the memory with the preferred ending. In this way, you are taking care of the child you once were.
Six Ways Inner Child Pain Can Present in Adults:
1) Trouble with Boundaries – Saying no is difficult for you. You don’t set boundaries with others, and would rather feel uncomfortable than risk upsetting someone else.
2) Tough Inner Critic – Are you extra critical of yourself? Do you find that no matter what you do, nothing is good enough for your inner critic?
3) Weakened Sense of Self – If you were taught to put others’ comfort above your own, you may have learned the habit of changing your personality to match those around you. It may have served as a survival technique, but as an adult may leave us insecure with our own identity.
4) Highly Anxious – You experience a high level of anxiety whenever you enter a new situation. The lack of control makes you feel uncomfortable.
5) Needing Constant Outside Reassurance – You continually seek approval from others, because you learned from a young age to be a people pleaser to stay safe. You may feel like a failure if others do not praise you.
6) Have Difficulty Handling Strong Emotions – You may find it challenging to control your emotions, and may feel guilty if you feel an emotion that is negatively perceived, such as anger or sadness.
Learning to connect with our inner child, validate their pain, and heal the hurt without judgment can help us address our emotions and emotional needs in the present. Also beneficial is connecting with the joy, playfulness, and open heart of the child we were. The inner child meditation should be done at least twice a week if this resonates with you. If you feel you need additional assistance, speak with a psychologist or therapist.
Lea Grimaldi is a reiki master and mind, body, spirit coach in Norwalk, CT. available for group and individual sessions.
The idea is that when we connect with our inner child, if they are wounded, we can heal the hurt that they felt, and then we'll react as our adult self in times of turmoil.