What’s an inner child?
Have you heard the term before? It really is just what it sounds like–your inner child is the younger version of you that you still carry around inside of your present self. If that sounds confusing, think of it this way: when you get older, the younger version of yourself doesn’t stop existing just because you turn a year older. Instead, think of yourself more like a tree–as you get older and wiser, rings are being added, your present self on the exterior with your younger versions of yourself held inside.
And while that can be good in ways when tended to mindfully (engaging in play, finding ways to add fun and joy to your life, etc.), it also means that if there are wounds we didn’t tend to in our childhood–which most of us didn’t because we aren’t able to realize our wounds until we’re adults–are also still with us. And when we don’t tend to them, they show up in our present lives.
Your inner child needs reparenting.
Tending to these wounds in adulthood is the process of reparenting. Basically, you are acting as your own parent. You’re both child and parent, wounded and healer, the caretaker and the person who needs taking care of. When you’re able to listen to your inner child, to notice those wounds and care for them, you begin the healing process. It can be hard to begin the process, to know what wounds your inner child has and how they need to be cared for.
Many people think that if they had a good childhood or if they have a good relationship with their parents that they will have no wounds to tend to. But when we’re children, we can interpret things to mean something other than what they meant in the moment–our brains are still learning context as we’re kids so something that may not be a big deal to us as adults may have been devastating as a child. Even if those things seem like “no big deal” now, they’re still important wounds to tend to!
How do you listen to your inner child?
You need to connect with your inner child, show them that you are a safe person to turn to now. How can you do that? Simply by validating the pain that they’re feeling, telling them you see them and assuring them that you’re there for them. Here are 3 ways to do that:
Write them a letter
What would you like to tell your younger self?What do you think the adults in your life should have told your younger self? What wounds of theirs have you noticed? Do you know where they come from? Can you offer them some sympathy for what they went through? Can you tell them that they didn’t deserve to feel the hurt that they did?
Take them for a walk:
Go for a walk through your neighborhood or take a slow, mindful hike. As you’re walking, try to see with the eyes of your inner child. What do you notice? What are you drawn to? What excites you? What makes you feel at home in this place?
Give them free reign in your journal
Try to tap into what your inner child would think of your life now. If they were plopped into your body, how would they feel? Would they feel safe? Would they be excited about how their life looks? Journal from their point of view, about what they feel about your life now and what is still hurting them.
If you’re looking for more ways to connect with your inner child, our clinicians can help you find what works best for you! Get in touch today.