Intense and uncontrolled emotional outbursts, distrust towards others, excessive people-pleasing, fear of abandonment, feeling ashamed of expressing emotion…these are only a few of the signs pointing towards a wounded inner child. Our inner child is always within us; it is the part of our psyche that holds on to innocence, creativity, and inspiration in life. Our inner child becomes wounded when we experience some sort of neglect as a child. You might have grown up in an environment where your parents failed to nurture your emotional needs. Maybe you felt unsafe to express yourself. When we have lived experiences of emotional trauma, no matter how small, we won’t always develop the tools necessary to process and heal from things. When this happens, our inner child becomes “stuck” in our past, and as adults we may resort to unhealthy emotions or behaviours in an attempt to make us feel safe.
The good news is that we are all able to connect with our inner child if we give ourselves permission. When we connect with the most vulnerable and sensitive parts of ourselves, we can heal what was once wounded. Here are a few exercises to connect with your inner child!
1. Write a letter to your younger self
Writing a letter to your younger self is a comforting way you can reconnect with the child within you. This might feel unnatural at first, but once you take that pen to paper you will be surprised at how much you need to say! You might want to write a letter of apology, or just let your younger self know how proud you are of them…how far they have come despite challenges, and what they can look forward to in life. Treat your younger self like the pen pal you have been disconnected from for so long. What do you miss most about your relationship? Keep this letter with you and read it when you need it most. It will serve as a reminder that you are stronger than you think!
2. Listen to your feelings…your inner child is trying to talk to you!
In order to heal from difficult experiences, we need to remain in touch with our emotions. Our feelings always tell a story. When we experience challenging emotions, this paints a picture of our inner child’s deepest fears or insecurities. When you notice that you are tempted to react to situations in unhealthy ways, take a moment and acknowledge what you are feeling. Identify the feeling and allow it to enter your thoughts without judgement. Ask yourself what is making you feel that way, and how you can react in ways that resolve the conflict your inner child is having.
Meditation is a powerful tool you can use to visit your inner child. Take the time to find a quiet space where you can connect. You can use audio for guided meditation, or if you have more practice in mindfulness meditation you can do this independently.
This can be an incredibly healing experience as it allows you to essentially “time travel” to a period of your childhood where support was needed most. You can “parent” your younger self, and provide them with the validation, guidance, affection, support, or reassurance that they might not have received when they were younger. Let them know that they are loved and safe, and that you are always there for them. This helps in healing parts of ourselves to become “unstuck” from any feelings of rejection, resentment, or self-destructive beliefs.
When we allow ourselves to be playful, the joy within us acts as a powerful agent in awakening our inner child! Sometimes the responsibilities of an adult world can be overbearing and further hinder our inner child from blooming. No activity is ever too childish! Allow self-expression and creativity by engaging in activities that your younger self found joy in. Maybe that’s blasting music in your room and having a dance party, splashing different colours of paint on a canvas, or playing hide and seek.
When we experience trauma, these dysfunctional patterns from our childhood are difficult to mend. If you would like to speak to a therapist to help with this healing process. We are here to listen. Click here to reach out.