How can you heal your inner child, and why should you even care? We all have an inner child that lives deep inside of us. Your inner child has beliefs that were formed early on, and they are holding onto emotions from your past right now, good or bad.
So how is your inner child affecting you now and how can you begin inner healing? The beliefs that you formed growing up can be running you on auto-pilot without your conscious awareness.
Your beliefs are always present in the background and are always looking for evidence in your outer world to make them come true.
This is why you may want to do something different in your life, set your intention, create a plan of action, and then watch as you sabotage yourself. What this means is that you have formed a belief that is counter to what you want, and your belief is running the show.
When your inner child and your adult self both desire to feel and believe different ways, there can be an inner battle of wills that’s taking place inside of you, and your inner child often wins in this tug of war because their beliefs and feelings have been ingrained in you for a much, much longer time. Their beliefs may have also been reinforced and “proven” by outside circumstances, which cements them into your psyche.
There’s wonderful advice that’s already been given about healing your inner child, such as: feel your inner child’s feelings, tell them you love them and that they are safe, and re-parent them so they know they have someone always there for them.
Let’s go a little deeper than that so you’ll be the most successful you can be in healing your inner child.
There’s an elephant in the room here, and that’s that no one really wants to do all this work. Honestly, who really wants to go back and feel all of those painful emotions that your little one has held on to?
It stinks to feel all of the pain you felt as a child, whether that was a little or a lot. Pain is pain, and we naturally try to avoid it at all costs because it’s wired into our DNA. The only time we actually do dive into the pain is when it’s screaming at us and we can’t ignore it anymore.
This is when you typically reach out for help, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Decades of your life don’t need to go by as your pain emerges and then you push it back down.
It’s also really hard to take responsibility for what’s happening inside of you. By responsibility, I don’t mean being mean to yourself or blaming yourself, but rather taking account for what’s happening inside of you to take an honest look through self-reflection, so you can excavate what’s not working for you, and form new beliefs, emotions, behaviors, and thoughts that will work for you.
But it’s uncomfortable to feel your pain and it’s uncomfortable to take an honest look at your life, behaviors, beliefs, and feelings – so you avoid it.
There’s also another issue with healing your inner child, and that’s when you feel so messed up as a grownup that you wouldn’t even know the first thing to say to your little one. “How can I tell her she’s lovable when I don’t believe I’m lovable?” is an example of how your progress can halt.
It’s like you want to want to do it, and if you were truthful with yourself, the reality is usually that you just don’t want to. The pain you’re feeling is reminding you that there’s something there to be looked at, but it’s often not quite bad enough for you to want to solve it, at least not right now.
What’s important for you to know about this work is that you only need to do enough to feel better and reach your goals. You don’t need to look at every memory or feel every feeling from your childhood to be successful in this work, and you can take breaks whenever you want to.
Start by acknowledging that it’s uncomfortable to do this work, that you have an inner child that needs attention, and that you can take breaks whenever you want to.
Then just become aware of the patterns that you have in your inner world and your outer world. This will give you clues as to your beliefs and feelings about yourself. Do you say yes when you want to say no? Are you a people-pleaser? Are you a perfectionist or overachiever? Do your relationships make you happy? How about your job or career? Are you self-critical and have low self-esteem?
For example: “Emily” was a bright and witty person who excelled at whatever she put her mind to. She rose quickly to the top of her class in college, and was fast-tracking a promotion at work. She was the person everyone went to when they knew they needed something to get done, and be done well. She was reliable and dependable – always.
She would stay up late working on projects, and wake up early to complete her normal morning routine. From the outside it looked like she had life all figured out. She was successful, smart, energetic, reliable, and competent in any area of her life that she focused her attention towards, but she was miserable.
She doubted herself frequently, over-analyzed every move she was about to make, and she got freaked out if she said or did the wrong thing. She agonized over doing things the right way, and would spend countless hours thinking about work.
She was expending so much energy that she was becoming exhausted, but there was something inside of her that forced her to do things well. It was this feeling of needing to take charge and get things done, and if she didn’t, she felt anxious. She was aware of this, but she had never really took note of why this familiar feeling was with her, or where it was coming from.
She was quickly growing bitter as she was beginning to feel unappreciated for all of the extra things she did, even though people thanked her for her efforts, and she started to notice a feeling of sadness within her. She would quickly distract herself through busy work when she noticed the sadness, but overtime it grew larger and she was becoming depressed.
She felt like an impostor. If people really knew how she felt and the things she thought, they would expose her for not being as put-together as everyone thought she was.
She began to remember back to when she was a kid, taking care of her brothers and sisters all the time, because her mother was an alcoholic. All of the parenting was forced upon her so that her brothers and sisters wouldn’t be taken away by child protective services. If she just kept them fed, the laundry done, had them do their homework, and got them to school everything would be all right and they could stay together as a family. She stayed up late making sure all the household tasks got done, and made sure her mother got into bed safely as she had often passed out on the couch.
To make ends meet, Emily found a part time job to help pay the bills. She was basically being a grownup with all the grownup responsibilities as a 14 year old girl. She had never really gotten to experience her childhood due to her mother’s alcoholism, and she repressed a deep sadness inside of her so she could continue on doing the things she needed to do to keep the family together.
This is why Emily is struggling with her current life. She has carried over the pattern of being overly responsible in her job, and she’s also carried over the fear of making sure things work out. Under her fear is a deep sadness that is running her on autopilot, and until she honors what she’s been through by acknowledging that her inner child got a raw deal by missing out on her childhood, it’s likely that her pattern will continue in her adult life, and will continue to cause her emotional pain.
The pain is there for Emily now, but it scares her even more to go back and feel the feelings she felt when she was a kid. She finally gained enough courage to explore her past and she’s worked through her emotional wounds as a child who was given far too much responsibility. She no longer feels driven to perform and be responsible, and she is finally able to relax and enjoy her life.
Emily’s story represents why it’s helpful for you to take a look at your inner world and your outer world. Your inner child is inside of your right now, and they need you more than ever.
They are asking for your help and for your comfort, but the question remains, will you be there for them? Will you honor their existence inside of you, and will you help them through their suffering? If not you, then who?
Please leave me a comment below to let me know what your thoughts are about the little one inside of you.