How To Care For Your Inner Child

🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič/Unsplash

Our inner child may have many illogical and deep-rooted fears that require gentleness. We all deal with anxieties around abandonment, worthiness, rejection and shame. As children, we could not discern if our primary caretakers were upset because of us or an external situation. Since a child’s sense of self is still intrinsically tied to the caregiver at a young age, we believe that everything that happens around us is a direct reflection of us.

If a parent is volatile and unpredictable, we carry a deep belief into adulthood that if someone around us is angry then we must have contributed to this response. This belief could not be farther from the truth, but we carry these deeply embedded narratives for years to come. We did not have the “emotional tools to process it,” but now as adults, we can learn techniques to support healing.

Dr. Nicole LaPera, known as The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram, recommends these five concrete steps to reparent your inner child.

  1. Breathe.
  2. Keep one small promise to yourself every day.
  3. Tell someone you trust (other than your parents) that you’re beginning the process.
  4. Use this Mantra: “What can I give myself right now?
  5. Celebrate when you show up.

During my journey, I have done the messy work of reigniting my connection with my inner child, who has taught me a myriad of ways to live with a more gentle approach to life.

Use a Phrase to Comfort Your Inner Child

After months of getting to the root of my anger, I honed in on the phrase: “I am enough.” It is only three words, but it encompasses years of perfectionism and feelings of inadequacy. It mitigates a childhood belief of unnecessary responsibility and reassures me that the events I experienced with my parents were beyond my control.

I would ask yourself some of these questions to unearth that mantra/phrase that soothes your beautiful inner child.

·What do I wish that a primary caregiver would have told me when I was a child?

· What is my surface-level reaction in fights? Are there emotions, more tender I could express, that I am scared to feel?

· What parts of my adult self, unhealthy coping mechanisms, treat my inner child harshly?

Take Time to Meet With Your Inner Child.

I have attended spiritual retreats where you lay down in a quiet room and travel to meet your inner child. You can pick some imagined place that is the safest place where you can let you guard down. You will meet your inner child there. You can choose to give them physical affection, words from a loving adult or the space to feel deep wounds. It is helpful to journal about your experience, as you may have unearthed emotions undiscovered until that point.

If this seems like a daunting task, here is an article Patrícia S. Williams wrote about things to ask your inner child that may make the process easier.

Do Not Be Scared of Your Inner Child.

When I first started inner child work, I felt terrified to look into my past and see how deeply its imprint affects my current relationships. I wanted to hold onto the myth that I had a purely, one hundred percent happy childhood without any trauma or encounters that wounded. I would always proudly assert to my therapist that I had nothing to work on in regards to my parents and family life. I kept it all sealed away. Even people who have the most treasured family memories and healthy relationships still felt the tremors of their parent’s personal lives and practices. Our parents were just people who went through dark and light times, and sometimes it was hard for us to understand our place in all of the mess of life.

Since I have cultivated tendencies towards perfectionism, I expected the same of my inner child. She had to be well behaved, keep everything in perfect shape and never fail. In essence, I had to be the perfect child, who did no wrong, because if I failed or slipped up, a vague disaster would have fallen upon me.

Whenever I would fail or make mistakes, I would feel pins and needles all over my body, then a hot flash of rage that I would either project onto others or poison my mind. My inner child’s fear, everything being my fault, would be confirmed every time I did not meet my standard.

I am now grateful for the truth my inner child spoke and the space I gave her to reveal the hidden to me.

Your Inner Child Will Have Pent Up Emotions.

Welcoming my inner child into my life felt more like a purge than a peaceful meeting. All of a sudden, I was reeling from all of these very intense emotions and trauma body responses that I had ignored for years.

In the preliminary stages of your inner child healing journey, much of the work only requires you to be aware of your reactions and patterns. You are gifting your inner child a voice they have been craving for years. It took me months to even begin to alter my responses and nurture my inner child.

Bless my partner and her ever-patient heart in those first few months. You will feel like an exposed nerve because all of a sudden there are no barriers to protect you from a world you have learnt to perceive as a threat.

In the middle of a disagreement or ego flareup, my inner child manifested in my body language and in the way I spoke to my partner. I would run away with flailing arms, make weird fake crying noises and would roll into bed to hide. My partner and I eventually caught onto the fact that five-year-old me was coming out at that moment. My partner would assure me that I was safe and there was no reason to run away.

I used to be a much more explosive and angry person before I began inner child work. I have been on this self-healing journey since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been the most transformative period in my life because I am no longer on autopilot. I am more aware, through my new relationship with my inner child, of why certain situations set me off and how my past informs my present with trauma responses.

Meeting with your inner child is the bravest and most transformative decision you can make to move on from the past.

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