We were all once children, and still have that child living within us. But most adults are quite unaware of this. And this lack of conscious relatedness to our own inner child is precisely where so many behavioral, emotional and relationship difficulties stem from.
Everyone has an inner child. our inner child represents our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness. But it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers.
Remaining unconscious is what empowers the dissociated inner child to take possession of the personality at times, to overpower the will of the adult. The often frustrated primal needs of the inner child–for love, acceptance, protection, nurturance, understanding–remain the same today as when we were children. As pseudo-adults, we attempt to force others into fulfilling these infantile needs for us. But this is doomed to failure. What we didn’t sufficiently receive in the past from our parents as children must be confronted in the present, painful though it may be. The past traumas, sadness, disappointments and depression cannot be changed.
Becoming an adult means swallowing this “bitter pill,”: that, unfortunately for most of us, certain infantile needs were, maliciously or not, unmet by our imperfect parents or caretakers. And they never will be, no matter how good or smart, attractive, or loving we become. Those days are over. What was done cannot be undone. We should not as adults now expect others to meet all of these unfulfilled childhood needs. They cannot. Authentic adulthood requires both accepting the painful past and the primary responsibility for taking care of your inner child’s needs, for being a “good enough” parent to him or her now–and in the future.
So, how do we become aware and meet our inner child? First, one becomes conscious the inner child exists. We need learn to take our inner child seriously, and to consciously communicate with that little girl or boy within: to listen to how he or she feels and what he or she needs from us here and now.
It is very important to start awakening to the Truth that there is nothing inherently wrong with our being – it is our relationship with our self and with life that is dysfunctional. And that relationship was formed in early childhood.
To become aware that we have the power to change our relationship with our self.
To become aware that we were programmed with false beliefs about the purpose and nature of life in early childhood – and that we can change that programming.
To become aware that we have emotional wounds from childhood that it is possible to get in touch with and heal enough to stop them from dictating how we are living our life today.
The purpose of inner child healing is to stop letting our experiences of the past dictate how we respond to life today. It cannot be done without revisiting our childhood.
We need to create a new level of consciousness for ourselves that allows us to observe ourselves.
It is vitally important to start observing ourselves – our reactions, our feelings, our thoughts – from a detached witness place that is not shaming.
The emotionally dishonest environments we were raised in taught us that it was not ok to feel our emotions, or that only certain emotions were ok. So we had to learn ways to control our emotions in order to survive. We learned to relate to ourselves (and all the parts of our self – emotions, sexuality, etc.) and life from a critical place of believing that something was wrong with us – and in fear that we would be punished if we didn’t do life “right.” We adapted the same tools that were used on us – guilt, shame, and fear. This is where the critical parent gets born. The critical parent voice was developed to try to control our emotions and our behaviors because we got the message there was something wrong with us and that our survival would be threatened if we did, said, or felt the “wrong” things.
Whatever we are doing or not doing the internal critic can always find something to beat us up with. For example: I have 10 things on my “to do list” today, I get 9 of them done, the inner critic does not want me to give myself credit for what I have done but instead beats me up for the one I didn’t get done. Whenever life gets too good we get uncomfortable and the inner critic jumps right in with fear and shame messages. The critical parent voice keeps us from relaxing and enjoying life, and from loving our self.
It is vital to start learning how to not give power to that critical shaming voice. We need to start observing ourselves with compassion. This is almost impossible at the beginning of the inner child healing process – having compassion for our self, being Loving to our self, is the hardest thing for us to do.
So, we need to start observing ourselves from at least a more neutral perspective.
We need to start observing ourselves and asking ourselves where that reaction / thought / feeling is coming from. Why am I feeling this way? What does this remind me of from my past? How old do I feel right now? How old did I act when that happened?
Relate to your inner child exactly as a good parent relates to a flesh-and-blood child, providing discipline, limits, boundaries and structure. These are all–along with support, nurturance, and acceptance– elements of loving and living with any child. By initiating and maintaining an ongoing dialogue between the two, a reconciliation between inner child and mature adult can be reached. A new, mutually beneficial, cooperative, symbiotic relationship can be created in which the sometimes conflicting needs of both the adult self and inner child can be creatively satisfied.
Learning to have internal boundaries is a dynamic process that involves three distinctly different, but intimately interconnected, spheres of work. The purpose of the work is to change our ego-programming – to change our relationship with ourselves by changing our emotional/behavioral defense system into something that works to open us up to receive love, instead of sabotaging ourselves because of our deep belief that we don’t deserve love.
So the first boundary that we need to start setting internally is with the wounded / dysfunctional programmed part of self. You need to start saying no to the inner voices that are shaming and judgmental. The disease comes from a black and white, right and wrong, thinking. It speaks in absolutes: “You always screw up!” “You will never be a success!” – these are lies. We don’t always screw up. We may never be a success according to our parents or societies dysfunctional definition of success – but that is because our heart and soul do not resonate with those definitions, so that kind of success would be a betrayal of ourselves. We need to consciously change our definitions so that we can stop judging ourselves against someone else’s screwed up value system.
To open communications with your Inner Child begin speaking to him or her in a Loving way (which means to stop calling yourself names like stupid because when you do that you are abusing your inner child), Do non dominant hand writing, painting and drawing, listen to music, make collages, taking the child to the toy store, etc. anything that allows your inner child to come out to “play”
At first the child will probably not trust you – for many very good reasons. Eventually you can start building trust. If you treat yourself with one tenth as much compassion as you would an abused puppy who came into your care – you would be Loving yourself much more