Your Inner Child is the echo of the child you once were. We each have our own history and we have all been influenced by our environment, events and the significant people around us. Our inner child has stored those memories, and their impact upon us. You may have heard the term 'inner child' and thought it was just another bit of psycho-babble' – even though the term has been around for many years now.
Dynamics of Inner Child
We catch have our own history and we have all been influenced by our environment, events and the significant people around us. Our inner child has stored those memories, and their impact upon us.
Up to the age of six years, our brain was functioning at a relatively slow pace—the Theta brainwave frequency of 4-7 cycles per second—which is a very - receptive brainwave state, and we would have been profoundly affected by our experiences.
We will have made decisions at a sub-conscious level, about how we should be and what we should do in order to be seen as OK, and to be allowed to stay around and to survive' in our families.
Our later experiences will have reinforced these beliefs and formed our own “Script for how our life should be. We carry these immature scripts and decisions with us into adulthood - when they run our lives more than 90% of the time.
It therefore makes sense that we should revisit the experiences of the child we once were, and to find out what our own script says about our life and the unfolding drama we have been re-creating and repeating.
Not doing so will result in our playing out of the same unexamined script and drama over and over again. We cannot change the script by talking about it, or by conscious effort alone. It was designed to keep us safe—albeit in ways that now hinder us—and so it isn't given up that easily!
Most of the time we are living life like a child inside a grown-up's body - and the child within us yearns for attention, understanding, care and support.
We may try to silence these deeper longings with alcohol or drugs, by promiscuity, gambling, overspending, over-eating, work-a-holism, self-harming and other ways of avoiding the real and deeper needs we have. Needs which we haven't allowed ourselves to become fully aware of, or to find a way to have sufficiently met.
Where does it begin?
We have all been influenced by our environments since the time we were in our mother's womb.
The sounds around us, our mother's stress levels, the abundance or deficit of the 'feel-good' hormones and neuro-peptides, our nourishment or lack of it, complications, twin pregnancies, drugs, alcohol, and infections will all have played their part in how safe we felt even before we were born.
Then the actual birth experience, and our early infant care, and the emotional availability of our mother will have either reinforced or soothed the impact of those first pre-natal influences.
As small children we will have been absorbing a great deal from our extended families, our caregivers, friends, pre-school and early school years, and religious institutions.
We may not have had words for these experiences, but they will have been logged in our sub-conscious minds and bodies.
This all creates the pool in which we float, or sink. Inevitably, the water will be a bit dirty - or it may even be like thick mud.
In this pool resides our self-esteem, body-image, family trauma, shame and secrets (even if not spoken about-as they all affect the quality of the care our caregivers are able to show to us).
We will sink down into this pool, or mud, whenever we are overwhelmed by our negative thoughts, emotions, self-doubt or self-loathing.
In therapy the aim should be to sensitively lift out this dirt and mud, bit by bit, until we are left with just a stain of what was once there.
We must also learn how not to 'top-it-up' with more mud either by doing that ourselves, or by being around other people who want to dump some of their own mud onto us, instead of dealing with it, and cleaning it up, for themselves.
What are signs that the Inner Child is wounded?
These will be shown in:
1. Low Self-Esteem
2. Poor Body-Image, Mood And Emotional Imbalances
3. Problems With Boundaries Being Too Rigid Or Too Weak
4. Problems With Eating
6. Psycho-Sexual Difficulties
7. Being 'False' And Wearing ‘Masks'
8. Identity Problems
9. Being A Rebel/ A Hoarder/ A Bully/ A Perennial Victim Or A Super-Achiever
10. Intimacy Problems
11. Commitment Problems
12. A General Lack Of Trust In Yourself And Others
13. Criminal Behaviour
14. Excessive Lying
15. Being ‘Overly-Responsible' For Others
16. Being Fiercely Competitive And A Poor Loser
17. Dependencies And Addictions
18. A Lack Of Genuine Friends
19. Obsessive And Needy Behaviour
20. Fear Of Authority Figures
21. Being Manipulative, Being Passive, Or Being Aggressive
That's a long—and sadly not exhaustive—list that brings people into psychotherapy. It is always about the unmet needs of the Inner Child - the place of both our early wounding and the most profound healing!
What can we do to help our wounded Inner Child?
We can learn how to meet, rescue and adopt this wounded child who still lives deep inside us.
After all, you are the only person who you can guarantee never to leave you!
We can then emotionally contain and soothe our Inner Child, and allow the Competent Adult inside us to 'attend to business' out in the world.
However, we must regularly keep in touch with what our Inner Child still needs from us—which is, to be truly cared for by someone who wants the very best for them—that's you!
If you have a photograph of yourself as a small child, this will help you to empathically reconnect with him/her, the aim of which is to now understand their plight and to show them/yourself the compassion which has been missing.
It is often easier to feel compassion for other people than it is for yourself and you may have been rejecting and ignoring the yearning of your Inner Child - who has been calling out to you, over many years, for your interest, attention, compassion and love.
It may mean you are now allowing yourself to have treats' and rewards that you would never have allowed yourself, or have been allowed by your parents, in the past.
The sensible competent Adult part of you should be able to set fair and sensible boundaries around this, so that you do not over-indulge yourself, or use any rewards as either a distraction or as a cover up for your deeper pain.
Rescuing and re-parenting your Inner Child will allow you to fill in the gaps' and enable you to
live a more positive and rewarding life—with fun, laughter, spontaneity, authenticity, and most
importantly, with love.
See below for some suggestions to help you in the process of re-parenting your inner child:
Remind yourself how special and wonderful you were as a child
Have a safe place that you can bring to mind where you and your inner child can meet and play together
When you speak kindly to your inner child each day, have a loving and soothing inner voice - one that is supportive, soft, nurturing, patient and comforting
Tell them: I love you, I value you, and I appreciate you
Be sure to tell your inner child that they do not have to prove themselves to anyone
Remind them that they have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about and that none of what happened to them was ever their fault. Share with them that they didn't deserve to be treated badly.
Explain to your inner child that they were just in the wrong place and had no means of escape, but that they are now free at last!
Tell them that there is nothing wrong with them as well as how proud you are of them
They need to feel respected. Do not tolerate disrespect ever again.
Tell them that you will be their guardian, champion and protector from now on. Things will be OK and you will never let them come to any more harm
Tell them they need never again fear being alone because you are there for them now and always
Apologize for not being aware of their pain and needs in the past, and of pushing them too hard sometimes to try and impress others
Assure them that you will only allow safe, trustworthy and respectful people into their world now. Notice loving parents who are caring for their babies and absorb that loving energy between a parent and child
Reassure them that you will be alongside them either to speak up on their behalf, or to support them when they speak up
Regularly ask them how they are feeling and what they want. Imagine sitting alongside that younger version of yourself, putting your arm around their shoulders and gently pulling them close to your heart
They have a home in your heart that they will never have to leave. They are safe with you now
If they want to cry let them cry, and be there as their new loving parent to wipe their tears and soothe their pain or fear. Accept all their feelings and don't react negatively to what comes up. Be patient with them
Remember that healing happens in different ways and time-frames. Promise to do your best to bring them the joy that has been missing from their life – and this will be profoundly healing for you both.
Show respect to your body - the home of your inner child. Keep it clean and toxin free. Keep it safe and happy... like a good caring home should be
Think of their emotional healing as being like the physical healing of a wound – one step at a time. Keep the wound free of further contamination. Avoid toxic people and environments. Don't ever let them swallow any more poison - particularly if you still keep in touch with toxic/unhealed family members
Get back those things that brought you joy as a child – no matter how fleeting. Be sure to make a big thing of their birthdays and Christmas, holidays and achievements
Set up creative activities for your playful inner child to enjoy! Bouncing, dancing, crafts, finger painting and anything else that evoke their interest. Drawing - from the right brain - is a great way to express your inner child's feelings. Allow doodling and unstructured drawing and see what emerges when you're in the 'zone' of childlike creativity. Don't judge their efforts... just as you wouldn't judge a child bringing their art work home from school to show you. Be proud and show it!
Sing songs from childhood (whether you could sing well back then or not). Release any shame dumped on you for your singing ability - and instead enjoy stretching your vocal chords and making your own sounds that come from your heart and reach out into the world
Encourage them to loosen up and allow physical and emotional intimacy (this will enhance your own sexual intimacy too). They must feel safe and unconditionally accepted to be able to do this.
Show them that they can trust their own instincts and be guided by their own 'antennae' as to who is safe. They may doubt their ability based upon their mistakes in the past. You are healing now inner child if they don't align with that self-love and a conscious caring relationship and as you grow in love for yourself and your life you won't want or allow anyone close to your back inside the warmth and safety of your loving heart.
Whenever you have to leave your deliberate connection with them, always imagine placing them
Please remember that your inner child is a real part of your sub-conscious mind - a wounded child who needs your love, care and compassion...because no one else except you can heal their pain and help them make peace with the past.