You've undoubtedly alluded to your inner child a few times. While jumping off park swings, chasing your roommate through the home with a Nerf gun, or diving into the pool fully clothed, you might exclaim, "I'm channelling my inner child." But who exactly is this inner child?
The Inner Child
Many people credit psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung for coining the term "inner child," which he used to describe a kid archetype in his writings. He associated this internal child with childhood recollections of innocence, playfulness, and creativity, as well as hope for the future.
According to other experts, this inner child is a manifestation of not only your child self but also your lived experience throughout your life. Ms Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist, rehabilitation, and sports medicine department, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai further adds, “The inner child is defined as an individual's childish component in both pop psychology and analytical psychology. It contains everything a person learnt before puberty as a child. The inner child is frequently portrayed as a semi-independent subpersonality subordinate to the conscious waking mind. Psychologists believe that everyone has an inner child, but that not everyone is in touch with it.”
Inner Child And Life Experiences
Because early experiences can have a big impact on your growth as an adult, the inner child is also regarded as a source of strength. However, this can work both ways: When you had unpleasant childhood experiences, your inner child may carry these wounds until you address the source.
Dordi explains, “When a young child is traumatised, scars form that must be repaired over time. If the child has a parent who takes steps to minimise the damage caused by the scenario or incident, much healing can be completed quickly after the trauma.”
However, if the child does not have someone who can parent them gently and responsibly through the event, the scars do not heal and might cause issues later in life. She adds, “Childhood trauma leaves a child with shame, which implies that in order to live, he or she will feel compelled to hide their experiences and/or emotions. If your parents were controlling, or if you were taught that you were only accepted and loved if you were ‘good,' you would learn to hide emotions like sadness or rage, which would get you into trouble.”
If you've been injured or rejected before, you'll learn to suppress your grief and fear to avoid being hurt or rejected again. In adulthood, these suppressed emotions lead to cycles of self-sabotage. Dordi elucidates, “We can be harsh on ourselves as grownups. Healing and moving on can be difficult when we judge and despise ourselves. Unresolved childhood trauma, pain, and repressed emotions might be seen as a separate creature, or an "inner child," which can help you be more sympathetic to yourself. And the more empathy we have for ourselves, the faster we will be able to process and repair our pasts.”
Dordi lists out the concern where inner child work is well-suited or advised:
• Childhood abuse — emotional, sexual, and physical abuse
• Depression and anxiety
• Anger control issues
• Emotional numbness
• Relationship difficulties
• Co-dependency and powerlessness
• Passive-aggressive behaviour
• Low self-esteem
• Abandonment issues and borderline personality disorder (BPD)
While the inner child work can take time, it helps shape your experiences for the better in the long run. Dordi shares some healing strategies to get you started:
1. Admit the presence of your inner child: To begin healing, you must first acknowledge the presence of your inner child. We must realise that everyone can connect with their inner child if they're willing to explore the relationship. Recognising and accepting things that caused you anguish as a child is the most basic part of addressing your inner child. Bringing these wounds to light can help you begin to comprehend their significance. However, many people find it beneficial, if not comforting, to speak to their inner kid as if it were an actual person.
2. Pay attention to what your inner child is saying: It's critical to pay attention to the feelings that arise once you've opened the door to a connection with your inner child. These emotions are frequently triggered by situations that elicit intense emotions, discomfort, or past wounds. Anger over unmet demands, abandonment or rejection, uncertainty, vulnerability, guilt or humiliation, or even anxiety may all be present. Listening to your inner child's feelings and allowing yourself to experience them rather than pushing them away might help you identify and validate pain.
3. Compose a letter: Writing a letter to your inner child might help you initiate a dialogue and begin the healing process. You may write about childhood recollections from an adult perspective, providing insight or explanations for difficult situations you didn't comprehend at the time.
4. Meditate: Meditation has numerous physical and mental health advantages, but a few of them are directly related to inner child work. Meditation can also assist you in being more at ease with negative emotions.
5. Journaling: Many people feel that journaling is an effective approach to process difficult or confusing situations as well as emotional upheaval. You might already be getting a lot of benefit from this coping approach if you keep a journal.
6. Restore childhood joys: Adulthood comes with a lot of duties, yet relaxation and fun are both important aspects of emotional well-being. Getting in touch with your playful side and making time for fun might help heal the pain of missing out on what you needed as a child if your upbringing was lacking in positive experiences. Small joys, such as ice cream after a walk, games with your partner or children, and laughter with friends, are equally vital. Making time for pleasure and light-heartedness in your life, whatever you do, can help recreate the wonderful sentiments of youth.
7. Leave the door open: Healing isn't always a one-way street. It's usually a more open-ended journey. You've begun the process by contacting your inner child. As you move forward, you can continue to grow this newfound understanding. Maintaining contact with your inner child can help you develop a more full sense of self, as well as increase your confidence and motivation. Reaffirm your intention to continue listening, offering love and compassion, and working to heal any wounds that remain open by confirming your aim to continue listening, offering love and compassion, and working to heal any wounds that remain open.
8. Consult a therapist: Past trauma can be quite distressing. Therapists strive to establish a safe environment in which you may begin to navigate this emotional turbulence and discover effective skills for healing your inner child.