“Your true passion for life is hidden away within you. Your inner child holds the key to this. What did you enjoy doing as a kid before all the adulting began? Take time for yourself, recharge, and let your inner child come out to play every once in awhile.” -Christine E. Szymanski
“My quest these days is to find my long lost inner child, but I’m afraid if I do, I’ll end up with food in my hair and way too in love with the cats.” – Kenny Loggin
“I’m happy to report that my inner child is still ageless.” – James Broughton
“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” – Pablo Neruda
“When I grow up, I want to be a little boy.” – Joseph Heller
“It sounds corny, but I’ve promised my inner child that never again will I ever abandon myself for anything or anyone else again.” – Wynonna Judd
“Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity of humor.” – Stuart Brown
“A grownup is a child with layers on.” – Woody Harrelson
Disney’s the Kid (2000) , with Bruce Willis – In this movie, Bruce Willis plays Russ, a 40-year-old, self-centered but successful “image consultant” who is failing in his personal life. The movie begins with his girlfriend telling him, “Every time I’m ready to walk away because I think you’ll never be able to love, I see the little boy in you and what you could be.
“Shortly after that Russ finds an 8-year-old boy wandering about his home, and then discovers that the boy is none other than himself.
He rejects the boy: “Get out of my life. I want nothing to do with you. You are my past and I’m finished with you.”
Fortunately, the boy refuses to leave and little by little Russ comes to embrace him. You can watch the movie to see how things turn out, but the important point is this: Many individuals who suffered in childhood do not realize that their adult relationship problems are directly related to their unhealed emotional wounds from childhood.
Many of us have been or are like Bruce. Inside us lives the little girl or boy seeking comfort, validation, perhaps approval.
Certainly love and acceptance. “Am I OK? Do you love me? Did I do something wrong?” As adults we may hunger and thirst for these words: You matter to me. I appreciate your uniqueness. I love you.
My friend, yes you who is reading this blog, I want to welcome you to come with me on a journey of embracing your inner child. Please take a few moments and close your eyes. Think back to what it was like being a young child. You were fun, fearless, adventurous, spontaneous, silly, and enjoyed the simple things in life. You spent your time laying outside, laughing, and being creative. All these things came naturally and stress did not yet exist. Our biggest stress in life may have very well been being forced to eat vegetables and having a bedtime.
Open your eyes and take a sheet of paper and write down how you saw yourself. What did you love about yourself? What made you happy? What was most important to you as a child? After you pour your thoughts out onto the page, read it back to yourself. Imagine what it would be like if you could reinvent yourself and become more like your 8-year-old self. What if your life was filled with more love, more openness, more playtime, more laughter, and more happy moments?
This sculptures above appeared at the Burning Man Festival 2015. Created by Alexander Milov from Ukraine, this sculptures are titled “Love” and features two wire-frame adults after a fight, distanced and sitting with their backs facing each other. Inside them are two children standing and trying to reach each other.
Milov says this about his sculpture:
“It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating. As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children chart to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”https://burningma
In this artwork, the children are glowing and transparent, standing erect and facing one another, touching hands through the metal framework as a sign of unity. The transparency of the children illustrates how easily individualism can be influenced. The key component of the children is their glow. The illumination represents the innate purity and sincerity in every human being that society tries to cage. In times of distress we look to others to provide us purity and sincerity, to bring us together.
Like the artwork, the inner child in us encompasses the parts of our psyche that retain the qualities we all possessed as children. The joyful energies of creativity, curiosity, playfulness, and spontaneity are potent: they can mobilize a collapsed system and be a catalyst in the healing process.
The Inner child also describes parts of us that have been deeply wounded. Various incidents in our childhood, especially highly charged ones, that left us hopeless, sad, angry, scarred and/or unsupported live unchanged in our energy field.
Why does this happen? At the time when they occurred, our little systems were not developmentally equipped to process such a large charge, usually coming at us from an adult who had more power than us. We simply did not have the cognition to understand what was happening and often there was no supportive presence to explain it to us. So, the emotion was left unprocessed and frozen. These early experiences leave “markers” in our body, mind, and spirit that show up in adulthood as thoughts, beliefs, images and habits.
Why would my inner child hold hidden emotions?
If you were controlled by your parents, or if you were taught to believe you were only acceptable and loveable if you were ‘good’, then you would learn to hide the emotions like sadness or anger that got you into trouble.
These repressed emotions then lead to cycles of self-sabotage in adulthood. We either seek the parenting we missed out in other people and always feel disappointed, rejected, and let down when they can’t fulfil our demands, or we refuse to let anyone close to hurt us that much again.
For example, if you were taught to repress pain, you might run from good relationships rather than allow yourself to be hurt. The end result is always feeling lonely. Or, if you were taught you must always be pleasing to win love, you can end up in codependent relationships.
Our wounded inner child perceives the world and relationships with fear, suspicion, and mistrust. And yet, the opposite is also true — we keep on reaching out for love, affirmation, and deep relationships. Human love, as wonderful and life–giving as it is, cannot completely heal our suffering inner child. What I found, though, was that the timeless, healing power of God’s love can reach that inner child and bring the wholeness and freedom that we all long for..
WORKING WITH THE INNER CHILD
Your inner child is a powerful little child and can rule your unconscious mind if the child continues to be unsupported. Most adults are walking around totally unaware of the child we carry within us and just how much that little child can be calling the shots. Shaping the way we act in relationships, be they romantic, work, with our family of origin, or with ourselves, how that child may be pushing us on to be successful at work, to get that next promotion at whatever cost.
Or again, your inner child can keep you in the shadows fearing being truly seen. So it’s important to step back, to understand how these stories get stuck inside us as an entryway to talk about why our inner child matters and how to support ourselves.
When we become aware of the wounded child in ourselves, we feel great compassion for that child and we begin a journey of loving and healing our inner child. The practices of mindful walking, mindful sitting, and mindful breathing with our inner child become a call. With our mindful breath and mindful steps, we can show love again to the inner child, we can hug and say positive things to the inner child. That positive energy will embrace us and heal us, and will heal the wounded child in us.
You might wonder about the point of doing inner child work. Well, suppose a child is suffering from a wound, and you do nothing to help them. How do you feel ignoring the needs of this innocent, dependent person? How would the child feel? Wouldn’t it continue to suffer until the wound was healed? This is how your inner child feels, and its wounds can affect you well into adulthood. Inner child healing can put an end to internal suffering, which can help you change maladaptive behaviors. Working with a therapist, you can do several things to reduce the suffering dramatically.
Here below ways that have helped me to heal my Inner Child:
Invite Jesus into the wounds created by your past
As a Christian, here below are my spiritual healing process, I believe in healing through prayers in Christ (please note that others not Christians may have their own spiritual way of healing, which might be similar).
When we hold a conception of our birth father as angry, violent, uncaring, indifferent, distant/withdrawn, absent/abandoning, alcoholic, condemning and/or critical, we tend to believe the following words about ourselves:
- I am unworthy
- I am stupid
- I am incompetent
- I am unloved or unlovable
As long as we accept these words as truth, we will experience depressed, anxious and angry lives.
The Gospels share the story of Jesus Christ’s disciples trying keep a distance between Jesus and children. In response, we see Jesus rebukes the efforts of the disciples to keep the kids away as He directs them to “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Christ finishes by placing His hands upon the children where He blesses and embraces them.
Most readers of Scripture tend to see this literary—which is certainly the case—but we also ought to reflect deeper, into other narrative sense of children coming to Christ and His ultimate laying on of hands and blessing.
In other words, adults should see this as an invitation to take their inner child to Christ for His loving embrace, blessing, and healing.
Do inner healing for the memories:
- invite Jesus into the specific memories
- understand the words that you accepted at the time
- ask Jesus to reveal His truth to you
- receive His truth about who you are
Choose to forgive your parents and others:
- for hurtful words
- for hurtful actions
- for not loving you
- for not blessing you
You won’t find your inner child in busyness or chaos. It is so important to take time to switch off from distractions, relax and generally be in the moment. Like any child your inner child can only be heard properly when you take time to be quiet.
Talk to the Child
Gently approach your little one inside you, in your moment of mindfulness. Ask him what is going on. Encourage any bodily sensations to arise in your awareness. Ask what’s needed that might helpful. If there is an adult in the space, they may want them to go away, say or do something. Ask what wants to “be done” or said.
Listen, and in your imagination, slowly, even if it seems unrealistic to your rational brain, allow whatever comes up to happen while your adult self is there protecting and supporting your child. Finish the unfinished verbal and physical action that wasn’t completed at the time.
After that, there can be a huge shift in energy.
At this point, it is helpful to ask our child if they want to be held and comforted. During this process always offer support.
Some self-nurturing things you might consider saying to your inner child include: “I love you. I hear you. I’m sorry you had to go through that alone but I am with you now. Thank you for being so strong and getting us through that, we made it and we are here now because of your resilience and strength.” Always await a response and create a dialog.
Make Time For Fun And Play:
Too much work doesn’t just make Jack/ Jackie a boring boy or girl, it makes him/ her an unhealthy and unhappy boy/girl. Make a list of all the fun things you enjoyed as a child and start bringing them into your daily and weekly life. Don’t let any distortive thoughts around age, or what you should and shouldn’t do stop you from having some inner child fun. To stay happy and healthy build a strong connection with your eternal child your playful child. Make time for hobbies, things you enjoy doing even those things you love to do but aren’t very good at, and even those things that get very very messy.
Honor the feelings
“It is through having the courage and willingness to revisit the emotional “dark night of the soul” that was our childhood, that we can start to understand on a gut level why we have lived our lives as we have.
It is when we start understanding the cause and effect relationship between what happened to the child that we were, and the effect it had on the adult we became, that we can Truly start to forgive ourselves. It is only when we start understanding on an emotional level, on a gut level, that we were powerless to do anything any differently than we did that we can Truly start to Love ourselves.
The hardest thing for any of us to do is to have compassion for ourselves. As children we felt responsible for the things that happened to us. We blamed ourselves for the things that were done to us and for the deprivations we suffered. There is nothing more powerful in this transformational process than being able to go back to that child who still exists within us and say, “It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong, you were just a little kid.””
“As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are giving power to the disease. We are feeding the monster that is devouring us
We need to take responsibility without taking the blame. We need to own and honor the feelings without being a victim of them.
We need to rescue and nurture and Love our inner children – and STOP them from controlling our lives. STOP them from driving the bus! Children are not supposed to drive, they are not supposed to be in control.
And they are not supposed to be abused and abandoned. We have been doing it backwards. We abandoned and abused our inner children. Locked them in a dark place within us. And at the same time let the children drive the bus – let the children’s wounds dictate our lives. (Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls).
Again, we need to take responsibility without taking the blame. We need to own and honor the feelings without being a victim of them.
Parent Your Inner Child
A child not only needs to be loved, protected, and to have their needs met, but they also need to be taught how to live successfully in the world. At some point, someone failed to teach you how to nurture and care for yourself.
Now, even if you’re managing many aspects of your life just fine, you still need to find the gaps in parenting that are causing you trouble in the present. You may struggle to regulate your emotions or behave in inappropriate or self-destructive ways. Parenting isn’t an easy task for anyone. For someone who is parenting an inner child, this process might seem strange or even incomprehensible. However, with the help of a licensed therapist, you can become a great parent to your inner child.
Freeing your Inner Child is remembering who you are, discovering your deepest heartfelt desires and removing the veils on your eyes to see life more clearly and be fully present in each moment of your life. Your Inner Child allows you to feel life more deeply and have more active intuition (gut instinct). Others will notice as your Inner Child gets healed. Many will sense that you are more present and make eye contact with greater ease. Some will sense that your spirit is getting brighter.
As your heart breaks open, your tears will flow more easily. It is almost that you are experiencing the heart of God. At those times you will find that the Holy Spirit flows through your prayers with great ease. That means I would be willing to go to great lengths to heal my Inner Child.
As we end, please note that Inner child work can be intense. It can be highly emotional and even painful. It may even bring up feelings and thoughts you didn’t know you had surrounding your childhood. But, it is a great way to help you tear down negative thoughts and the hurt that you faced as a child so that you can begin on a clearer path to balanced mental health.
Home Coming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0749910542/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_MGPkEb3YZCGMF
Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1935209647/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_vJPkEbXD7DRFY
For therapists – Penny Parks: http://www.ppfoundation.org/default.aspx
How to heal your inner child: https://youtu.be/3D-uQ3jgPy8
The inner child explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM0lmfBlE2E
Reparenting (in two parts):