Inner Child Work- Where do you start?
I once heard that the inner child is the “echo” of the child you once were. The child that still harbors pain, is often anxious and timid, yet dictates a lot of the present adult life. In fact, up until the age of 6 or 7, a child’s brain is extremely receptive (running primarily on theta brainwave frequency). This makes a child enormously affected by their early experiences. Children are in “super” learning mode and quickly pick up how to make decisions based on the models they observe, learn what to do to stay safe, and these experiences are later reinforced when “scripts” are formed regarding how “life should be.” We carry these programmed scripts with us into adulthood which manifest through our thinking and behavior patterns— and unknowingly, they run a majority of our lives.
In order to progress as a healing, free adult, it only makes sense then to revisit your childhood. How can you change a script or belief you have without examining the past?
Perhaps you tried to silence the deeper pains and confusions of your childhood through over eating, over achieving, busyness, self harming, drugs or alcohol. How exciting to know there is a better way— one that will forever change your life, and those around you.
Where is the wound?
As I continue to do this work, I understand more and more about triggers. In the past, I would avoid them like the plague. I was scared to feel upset, offended, or hurt. I hated feeling resentful, disrespected or sad and did not know how to manage or navigate any feelings outside of happiness. Now, I know that triggers are teachers. They are little windows into the house where our inner child lives. Triggers are almost always signaling an unmet need of your inner child.
It may feel cheesy at first, but whenever you get triggered- think of it as an opportunity to be reintroduced to your younger self. Only now, instead of feeling like you have to recoil or silence yourself to stay safe, you can begin to get to know each other. Ask yourself in triggering moments, “what am I really in need of right now?” From my experience, whenever I am triggered it almost has nothing to do with the other person. Perhaps you need some rest, a warm meal, a hug, or to be heard? Begin the inner child dialogue and take small steps to honor the unmet needs.
Validate what you hear.
Validation is a huge component to inner child work. The most often concern I hear from others is that they don’t believe they are “allowed” to feel hurt, angry, or tired. Their old script has taught them to continue the abuse long after their (in real life) parent is out of the picture. Validating your inner child’s feelings will allow you to honor the unmet need without judgement.
Validations may sound something like:
“you have nothing to feel ashamed of.”
“you have nothing to prove to anyone.”
“you are allowed to feel scared and hurt.”
“this is not your fault.“
“I am here to protect you now.”
“I promise to set boundaries to keep you safe.”
“it is okay for us to find time for play or rest.”
I have also recently connected with Dr. Nicole (@theholisticpsychologist) and she has an incredibly powerful Inner Child Meditation that I highly recommend. You can listen to that here. Take your time. This work is a journey, not a destination.
I hope these starting points provide you some simple direction.
No, you won’t ever be able to go back to the past and change or fix what your inner child didn’t receive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look back to acknowledge it, and utilize it for good in your life now. As an adult doing this work, you can feel confident in who you are and will find peace and freedom in setting boundaries to honor, protect and nurture yourself.
What a gift it is to have the awareness and tools to provide compassion, love and safety to your inner child! Can I also tell you? This work has been the KEY to UNLOCKING a true, authentic, vulnerable relationship with my family and friends. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to see, hear and validate the needs and feelings of my inner child so that I can in turn, see, hear and validate the feelings of my own children and those around me.
This tool is a gift that keeps on giving.
Yours in healing,