The inner child is our original deep essence and the basis of our self-expression, creativity, and spontaneity. Our connection with the inner child determines how much we can enjoy life, be spontaneous and playful, and to what extent we allow ourselves to dream and creatively express ourselves. However, many of us have experienced childhood trauma that has unfortunately wounded our inner child. It could have been something as significant as physical abuse or simply losing a favorite toy that left us traumatized. You may not even think about that adverse event anymore. However, it may still affect the quality of your life as an adult. Therefore, inner child healing is so essential for most of us.
In this article, I want to share different methods that can help you heal the child within. I believe that these powerful methods can help rebuild a more robust and deeper connection with your inner child. They may also shed light on your past traumas and make you more aware and provide direction for your future shadow work and inner healing.
What Is the Inner Child?
The inner child is that part of our psyche where our childhood memories, feelings, needs, and the foundations of world perception are stored. Moreover, the inner child gives an impulse that manifests creative energy into our existence. Through our connection with our inner child, creative energy can manifest itself in us, filling our lives with unconditional joy, playfulness, and an unlimited perception of reality.
Each of us has a child within, and that inner child does not disappear when we grow up, but on the contrary, it can actively manifest itself in our behaviors as adults, in our reactions to specific events, and in our desires and needs.
What Is the Wounded Inner Child?
A wounded inner child is a child whose basic needs have not been met. Such needs could be:
This need implies that parents create a space for the child in which they can grow and develop without fear for their life. This applies not only to physical safety but also to psychological and emotional. Here are some examples of when such a need is not met:
- lack of safe home;
- lack of food;
- verbal abuse;
- emotional abuse;
- witnessing violence against others;
- physical abuse/physical punishment;
- when a child lives in a family with a hidden or obvious hostility between parents or other family members.
#2: Love and unconditional acceptance
The unsatisfied need for love in childhood leads to the fact that people are afraid to show their feelings in adulthood, and it is difficult for them to even talk about love.
An unmet need for acceptance can be expressed in different ways, for example, when:
- parents wanted a son, but a girl was born instead (or vice versa);
- a child likes to draw, but his parents make him play soccer;
- the unique qualities of a child are ridiculed;
- parents cannot stand the tears of a child and do everything so that he does not cry;
- a child is not allowed to get angry or feel any negative emotions, etc.
#3: The need for a parent figure
When one or both parents are absent from a child’s life, he gets traumatized. As he grows up, he tries to satisfy this need at the expense of others, whom he sees as symbolic parental figures. And then, even sometimes realizing the absurdity of the demands of such people, such a person will try to please them and earn their approval. Often people with an unsatisfied need for a parent figure also demand from others what they did not get from an absent parent.
The need for growth is met when a child is allowed to make mistakes. When adults constantly scold a child for his errors, trauma occurs. A very indecisive adult grows out of such a child. Such a person would rather do nothing than take a risk and make a mistake.
#5: The need for separation
This is the need to grow up and the ability to take responsibility for your life. This also includes setting personal boundaries with your parents. If this need is not met, such people often have a co-dependent relationship with their parents.
In addition, the causes of childhood trauma could be:
- a loss of a favorite toy;
- transfer to a new kindergarten or school;
- moving to another city;
- parents’ divorce;
- birth of a sibling;
- loss of a loved one;
- a need to take care of parents or other family members in childhood;
- any actions of a sexual nature directed at a child;
- excessive responsibilities assigned to the child, etc.
Healing the Inner Child
Inner child healing is the healing of an individual’s wounded adolescent self through communication, understanding, and acceptance. When we give our inner children unconditional love, compassion, and nurturing, they respond to us with an open-hearted embrace. Only when we are reconnected with our inner child can we experience the purest form of self-love and build healthy relationships with others.
Now, let me share four effective practices that will help you heal your child within.
#1: Let your inner child talk
Children learn by asking lots of questions. Likewise, our healing practice starts by asking the inner child questions about our forgotten dreams, expectations, hopes, and fears.
Set aside some quiet time alone. It could be in your meditation room, bedroom, beside a campfire in your backyard, or a picnic spot at the park. Set up your relaxing area, then ask your inner child these questions and listen to the answers:
- What do you wish your parents knew about you?
- What gets you excited and happy every morning?
- What would you do if you won a million-dollar jackpot today?
- If you were to advise your adult self, what would you tell them? What would you want this adult to remember about you?
- If you were to re-write your life story, how would it read? Who would you want the main characters to be?
- If you were to relocate, where would you like to live?
Let your inner child talk! Don’t let your rational mind and logic take control over this practice. Let it be spontaneous and intuitive.
These questions will help you reconnect with our brains’ frozen, immature parts. It takes us back to that traumatic childhood past, highlighting how it affects our adult lives. Next, we come up with remedies to recondition the mind to undo all those biased thoughts about ourselves or life. This simple practice will open up a gateway to long-forgotten possibilities, and help you pick up from when you last stopped dreaming or being ambitious.
#2: Inner child affirmations
Inner child healing affirmations are short phrases containing a verbal inner child healing formula that, when repeated many times, activates the healing process in your subconscious, contributing to improving your psycho-emotional background and stimulating positive changes in your life.
While saying the inner child affirmations look in the mirror or the sky, or simply close your eyes and focus on your inner child image. Alternatively, you can use your childhood picture and look at it while saying the affirmations.
You can create your own list of the inner child affirmations or use the list below:
- I love my inner child unconditionally.
- I listen to my inner child’s needs and take care of them.
- I trust my inner child.
- My inner child deserves to have a voice, and I listen to that voice.
- I respect my childlike innocence.
- I validate my inner child’s feelings.
- My inner child feels safe through my actions.
- Along with my inner child, I am whole and complete.
#3: Recreate what you loved to do as a child
Do you remember what you loved to do as a child? Maybe you liked to color or enjoyed making arts and crafts, or perhaps you loved to climb trees, play dress-up, or dance? Whatever it was, embrace the things that made you feel happiest as a child and revisit your childhood favorites. Don’t worry about how you look or what others may think; just do it, and your heart will come alive. Some things may be more challenging to do than when you were a kid but don’t let that stop you from practicing, playing, and having fun with them.
When you start doing what you liked when you were a child, you will re-discover your creative potential and find that joy that was forgotten due to the burden of adult responsibilities.
#4: Inner child meditation
This is one of the most powerful ways to reconnect with your inner child. To perform the meditation, find a place where nobody can disturb you. You can sit or lie down. If you prefer to meditate in a sitting position, make sure that your back has constant support to maintain a straight body position. You can also lie on your back in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
Take three deep inhales, and three exhales. With each exhalation, feel your body is getting more and more relaxed.
Now, take three more deep inhales and three exhales. With each exhalation, feel your mind getting calmer and still.
Now, visualize a place you enjoyed visiting when you were a child. This should be a safe place that makes you feel happy and calm. This place is your inner sanctuary where your inner child feels safe.
Now, imagine the path to your inner sanctuary and walk along it, focusing on the feelings of relaxation, peace, and comfort. When you finally reach your sanctuary, feel its beauty and comfort. Take a few minutes to recall any details about this place. Enjoy what is there. Mentally walk around this place, paying attention to plants and animals. What’s the weather like there? Feel the sun on your skin or a fresh breeze.
Now, look in front of you and see a small child. This is your inner child. Start walking towards the child. How old is he/her? What are they doing? Go towards the child slowly.
When you get closer, take a closer look at the appearance of a child. Try to feel what emotions the child feels.
Your inner child’s eyes should tell you a lot. See if they are sad or joyful. See the hopes of your inner child in their eyes. Hug your inner child and let them sit on your lap. Let them snuggle up to you. Feel their warmth and allow your heart to respond to this gesture. Make your inner child feel safe and protected with you.
Ask your inner child to tell you what actions they expect from you. Promise them that you will always take care of them.
Let your inner child understand that they are heard, taken care of, and protected.
Tell your inner child how grateful you are for them talking to you, how much you love them, and that from now on, they are safe.
At the end of the meditation, slowly release your inner child from your embrace and let them go. Say goodbye to them. Leave your safe place.
Take a few deep breaths in and out again, and slowly open your eyes.
The Bottom Line
Inner child healing is an essential step in the self-healing journey. Without healing the child within, it’s impossible to heal past trauma and build healthy relationships. The above inner child healing practices are an excellent way to start your inner child healing.