Some people have been fortunate enough to go through their childhood unscarred. However, not everyone has been that lucky. Perhaps when you think about your childhood, most of the memories that come to mind are filled with moments of sadness, difficulties, frustration, or anger. Rather than coming to terms with those traumatic experiences, you may have chosen to shut them down to avoid feeling the pain.
Hiding or avoiding is a strategy that may offer immediate relief in the short term, but it will not solve the problem. In one way or another, unhealed emotional wounds can find their way out, affecting different aspects of our lives, from our relationships to our physical or mental health.
If you lived trough a difficult or traumatic childhood, this post is for you. We will explore what you need to know about how to identify the signs of your wounded inner child and offer you strategies to begin your healing journey.
What is Your Inner Child?
Let’s begin by defining our fundamental concept. Our inner child is that deeper part of ourselves that defines who we are from the moment we are born to the present. You can think about your inner child as that inner voice or true self that from time to time speaks to you about following your dreams, hopes, or core values.
When people grow up in a healthy environment and experience positive parenting relationships, their inner child flourishes to its full potential. Adults with a well-developed inner child often maintain appropriate self-esteem, a positive appreciation of their relationships, and an optimistic view about the future. This does not mean well-grounded adults do not experience challenges or hardships. They do, as no one is exempt from living difficulties. However, when a person is grounded on a true healthy self, she may be able to bounce back from challenging situations.
So, what happens in those other cases when a person grows up in a dysfunctional home, witnessing or experiencing episodes of violence, neglect, or a traumatic event?
When we are children, we absorb and often interiorize what we see in our environment. Just as a child may think that she is intelligent because their parents often say so. Another child may think she is “dumb” or “not good enough” if their parents or teachers often criticize her.
Despite our efforts to silence those childhood memories in our adult life, these may manifest in various ways affecting our personal, professional, social, and romantic life.
Signs your Inner Child Needs Healing
Are you carrying your childhood wounds without being aware of them? The first step to healing childhood trauma or your inner child is identifying how these wounds emerge in your adulthood. Below you will find a list of symptoms showing that your adult self is carrying on a wounded child inside:
- You have issues with low self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image.
- You relate to your loved ones with an insecure attachment style (*If you want to know more about unhealthy attachment styles, you can check out our article after reading this one).
- You find it challenging to create and maintain boundaries. In other words, you try to be a people-pleaser to receive approval from others.
- You are repeating the same unhealthy parenting strategies that any of your caregivers used during your childhood.
- You feel afraid of opening up or talking about your feelings with other people, even in intimate relationships.
- You feel insecure in your romantic relationships and experience fear of abandonment.
- You become too reactive when your coworkers or managers give you feedback for improvement. You may mistakenly believe they criticize you or judge you as a person.
- You are too judgemental with yourself and with others.
- You feel anxious, worried, or afraid in social situations.
This list is not all-inclusive. Depending on each person, signs of past traumatic experiences can manifest in one way or another. Therefore, it is always essential to take the time to reflect on negative patterns that have reappeared in your life once and again.
For example, are you always trying to change who you are to fit in social groups or work environments? Have you often struggled to develop intimacy in your romantic relationships? Do you force yourself to go into strict diets or challenging exercise routines to accept your body and self?
If any of these signs have been affecting your life for quite some time, it may be the moment to look for help.
Why Healing Your Inner Child is Important?
We do not have too many tools or skills to face challenges or endure emotional pain when we are children. Therefore, we highly depend on adults and other people to learn how to navigate life, cope with overwhelming emotions, and feel safe and protected. When parents are caring and loving, children develop healthy coping skills to live life and positively relate to others.
However, when a child grows up in a chaotic, dysfunctional, neglectful, or abusive home, the child is forced to learn survival strategies rather than developing healthy coping skills. As the years’ pass, that little child may become an adult for whom relationships are unsettling, and the world is seen through a fear-based lens.
Sometimes we live our lives not knowing why we are so reactive, passive, or have bad luck in romantic relationships. Our fears of revisiting our past may push us to repeatedly repeat negative patterns of behaviours or engage in toxic relationships. But the more we try to silence our past, the more it will resurface in different ways. We cannot erase our personal history.
Looking at your inner child can significantly help you explore the causes behind your current fears, worries, or frustrations in relationships, social situations, or self-perception. Healing those emotional wounds can help you understand where all those negative thoughts about yourself or others come from. By understanding the root cause of your current thoughts and feelings, you can work on becoming more loving, more grounded, and more accepting.
What is Inner Child Work?
Inner child work is a type of therapy that allows you to explore the internal parts of yourself that have been wounded throughout your childhood experiences. Perhaps, you were told that you were “not enough” or that others could never love you. Maybe you experienced emotional trauma or emotional neglect and never got the chance to engage in a healing process.
By gaining insight into our subconscious emotional wounds, we will also gain self-awareness of the defence mechanism to cope with those wounds quickly.
Inner child work, like any other type of inner work, is a process of self-discovery that will allow you to become more accepting and compassionate with the areas of yourself that have been rejected and criticized. By increasing your self-love and self-acceptance, you will be able to live your life more meaningfully.
You will also be able to honour your true feelings, core values, personal goals, and dreams.
5 Methods to Connect with your Inner Child
1. Get into the Habit of Journaling
Journaling can be one of the most effective therapeutic tools to process your experience and current feelings. Journaling can allow you to empty your mind and overwhelming emotions on paper and look at all those thoughts with some perspective. However, sometimes finding the time for journaling can be challenging, especially if you have a hectic routine.
The best way to start with this practice is to book at least 15 minutes with yourself, turn off all distractions, and allow yourself to dive into your inner child’s feelings. Most importantly, let yourself be honest and not judge your thoughts and feelings.
If you do not know what to write about, here are some prompt ideas:
- What were the thoughtest experiences you lived during your childhood? How did you cope with it?
- How were your relationships with your parents or any other significant adult in your life?
- How would you assess your life as a child in general?
- What is something you can do today to honour the rejected parts of your inner child?
2. Take the Time to Do Things You Like
Children are well-known for being the masters of play. They are continuously looking for opportunities to engage in enjoyable activities. Unfortunately, as we grow older, we tend to abandon this playful part of ourselves and busy our minds with duties, tasks, and responsibilities. We may regard joyful activities as a “waste of time.” Still, these have enormous power to allow our minds to relax and restore.
One of the best things to reconnect and nurture your inner child is to regain that sense of doing activities just for fun, without expecting nothing in return. When was the last time you took an entire day or weekend to have fun? When was the last time you took the time to attend to your own needs without worrying about other million things?
3. Allow Yourself to Express Openly and Honestly
Children often say what they think without worrying too much about the consequences. Sometimes, their words can certainly hurt others. Still, there is that positive element of genuineness that we adults can use as an example. Sometimes we worry about how others will perceive us, and we refrain from showing ourselves as we truly are. In this attempt of always trying to fit in, be liked, or be approved by others, we may lose track of our needs, feelings, and values.
If you feel lost at this time of your life, begin by having an honest conversation with yourself, as actual children will do. Be honest about what you like and do not like about your current situation, relationships, work, and other aspects of your life. Being sincere with yourself will allow you to be more assertive with others and create boundaries to honour your needs.
4. Spend Some Time with Children
Since we are talking about finding ways to heal your inner child, one way to understand your inner child’s needs is by looking at and being around children. They can be great allies in helping you awaken the playful part within yourself and offer you opportunities for genuine connection. In addition, most children can engage with others in the present moment without overthinking about the relationship’s future or what they will get in return.
Through the power of play, they can laugh, trust, and connect with others in the present. Relearning this social skill as an adult can benefit us in different ways, such as being more open to engaging in relationships, learning to trust others, and nurturing ourselves.
5. Seek Professional Help to Heal Past Childhood Trauma
In some cases, our inner child wounds result from childhood trauma. Perhaps, at that moment, we did not count with enough understanding, support, or coping skills to navigate those difficult experiences. The good news is that there are types of therapy that can help you process those traumatic experiences and allow you to find healing for your unmet needs.
Inner child work or trauma therapy can offer you a safe space to revisit your younger self, forgive those who have harmed you, and find healing to live your life without that sharp pain.
How Can We Help You?
Suppose you are interested in learning more about Inner Child Work and similar types of therapy. In that case, we will be more than welcome to provide you with more information. At Well Beings Counselling, we are a team of compassionate and skilled professionals open to helping you heal past emotional wounds affecting your current life.
The first step you can take to embark upon this recovery process is to book a free consultation with us. Feel free to let us know a bit about your needs and what you are looking for. We are also offering online therapy for those people who cannot access our office locations due to issues with distance, transportation, or busy schedules. So, please give us a call or schedule a consultation with us whenever you feel ready.
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