‘Inner child’= The original self that entered the world before any external influences affected us.
We form our core relationship with our self and with life in early childhood based on the messages we get, the emotional trauma we suffer, and the role modelling of the adults around us. As we grow up, we build our relationship with ourselves, other people, and life on the foundation we formed in early childhood.
Emotional trauma is not due to one reason, but rather, a multitude of them. Examples of reasons why someone might experience emotional trauma include:
- Bad experiences at school (e.g., bullying.)
- Cultural shame.
- Emotional neglect/abuse.
- Sexual abuse.
- Physical abuse.
- Psychological abuse.
- Living with domestic abuse.
- Having to grow up with absent parents.
- Living with a parent who is mentally or physically ill.
- Losing a parent.
Our inner child is reflected both in our childhood self that needed love and comfort and, arguably, in our present adulthood self, too. ‘How so, when we are no longer children but adults?’, you may wonder. The reason is because parts of our childhood will remain ingrained within our unconscious mind forever. Therefore, no matter how much we try to ignore the child within us, they will never go away, their unmet needs and supressed emotions coming to the surface every time we experience a rough patch in our lives. And when these feelings do come to the surface, as they inevitably will, the choices we make, how we respond to challenges and, ultimately, how we live our lives as adults, are all likely to be affected as a direct result.
One technique that the inner child uses as a coping strategy is called ‘magical thinking’. We hope and believe that if we prove we are good enough, pretty enough, successful enough, and obedient enough, we will finally be noticed, loved, and protected, feelings that we perhaps didn’t experience when we were younger.
Now we know what our inner child is, it is important to understand why it is so important for us to reconnect with them…
It is important that we can connect with, nurture, and reparent our inner child so that any underlying feelings from our childhood can be brought into our conscious mind in adulthood. We must learn to be the healthy role model we needed when we were younger. We must learn to listen, hear, validate, comfort, nurture, love and give attention to the wounded inner child within us. The reason why this is of such great importance is because such feelings, no matter how much we try to supress them, do not just ‘go away.’ Instead, they fester inside of us, affecting our lives as adults. To escape from this ‘rut’ that we can find ourselves caught up in, we must make a conscious effort to listen to our feelings rather than supressing them.
We need to start observing ourselves and asking ourselves where reactions/thoughts/ feelings are coming from. ‘Why am I feeling this way? What does this remind me of from my past? How old do I feel right now? How old did I act when that happened?’ Doing this can aid us in discovering the root cause(s) of the challenges we may be facing. One such cause could be due to having a ‘wounded’ inner child. Being able to recognise our emotional wounds and then let them go rather than letting them dictate how we respond to life today is at the very essence of inner child healing. We can recognise said emotional wounds by looking out for a series of signs…
Signs of having a wounded inner child include:
- Experiencing a sense of anxiety, particularly when deviating from comfort zones.
- Feeling as though there is something ‘wrong’ with you.
- Being a ‘people-pleaser.’
- Lacking any strong sense of identity.
- Feeling inadequate.
- Having an unforgiving, rigid, and perfectionist personality (‘all or nothing’ thinking.)
- Control issues.
- Being over-responsible.
- Having a hard time committing to relationships and developing trust within said relationships.
- Masking emotions.
If you identify with any of the signs as listed above, the good news is that there are several ways in which you can seek help, all of which will put you one step closer to embarking on your healing journey.
So, if you have been able to identify your inner child is wounded, how can you go about reconnecting with that child? Listed below are some examples of activities that helped me on my personal journey to doing just that- reconnecting with my inner child.
- Make a list of all the things that brought you joy when you were young.
- What did you love to do?
- What did you dream of?
- What did you hope for?
- What kind of person did you want to grow up to be?
- What experiences did you want to have?
2. Identify your specific inner child.
- A great test to discover your inner child can be accessed on psychologies.co.uk with the following link: https://www.psychologies.co.uk/tests/who-is-your-inner-child.html
3. Visualise your childhood self.
- Look at pictures of yourself as a child. Imagine greeting her, taking her in your arms, and showing her only love and kindness.
4. Write a letter to your inner child with everything you needed to hear as a child contained within the pages.
5. Say affirmations to your inner child.
I would like to share my answers to the above prompts with you all today in the hope that it will inspire you to have a go at it yourself. Inner child healing really is transformative if you approach it with an open mind and a willingness to change.
1)Things that brought me joy:
When I was younger, I was very academic. I was the type of kid who loved school, and who got enjoyment from completing her homework. My favourite subject was always English, and I would spend my spare time writing my own short stories and rhyming words for poems. As I write this, a memory springs to my mind. When I was in year seven, my class was set the task of writing a poem about what we wanted to do when we were older. In my poem, I wrote about how I wanted to do exactly what I was already doing. I wanted to write poetry as a job.
As much as I loved writing, I would seek to express my creativity in other ways too, such as via card making, and filming YouTube videos (in my early teens I dreamt of becoming a youtuber and having loads of ‘subscribers’- quite the step up from my dreams of being a bin man.) Despite desperately trying to flex my ‘creative muscles’ and be more artistic, I was never any good at drawing, although I remember always dreaming about being as good at art as my sister (still waiting for that dream to happen.)
Aside from being academic, I was also very much a child with a big imagination. Me and my sister spent many a day playing games that we had made up entirely in our heads. We had ‘taxi’s’ which we would play at my grandparent’s house in between our baking sessions and ‘perfume’ making- we would ride around the block on our scooters pretending we were picking people up to take them to a party. And we had ‘school trips.’ My sister and I would imagine that we were teachers organising a trip. It was all very serious; in fact, we even went as far as emailing coach companies asking for quotes for our ‘school trips.’ Another game I would play, though this one, on my own, was ‘charity shops.’ I would pretend I was in a charity shop and go around my bedroom ‘buying’ things. When I had finished looking around the ‘charity shop’, I would get great enjoyment out of organising my bedroom (some things don’t change!) It was all a bit random, but I loved it.
I also loved playing ‘Nintendogs on my DS and ‘Mario Kart’ on the Wii. It was through playing Nintendogs that I wanted a dog so much. If my younger self had realised that she would have a dog of her own in the future, little Martha, she would be so excited.
When I wasn’t in ‘dream land’, I could be found at the shops, most notably, stationary shops. It was my love for stationary that inspired me to start collecting rubbers/erasers, which I grew to over 500. When I stopped collecting rubbers, I started collecting marble eggs. The more I write about the things I loved as a child, the odder I realise I probably was! Traditionally kids collect things like teddies, or trading cards. But me? No, I collected marble eggs.
To afford my love of shopping, I used to, and still do, sell things on Facebook. My grandad would buy things for me to sell from charity shops and carboots and I would put it all on Facebook. My grandad is still buying me things today, but now I put it all on eBay, and I buy things myself too. I have done quite well buying and selling on eBay, and I’m sure that my younger self would be proud of the money I have managed to save.
Younger me would also be very pleased that I am still living at home with my mum and dad, since I remember when I was younger wanting to live at home with my parents forever. My hopes and dreams for the future really did go from one extreme to the other. I dreamt of living with my mum and dad forever, but I also dreamt of being famous, of being a singer specifically. Strange, considering I can’t even sing. So why did I want to be famous so much? Because I saw fame as a representation of success. I saw it as being reflected in someone who was popular and well-liked. These were the things I wanted in my own life.
2) My inner child:
According to the test on psychologies.co.uk, my inner child can be defined as ‘the rebel.’ My results state:
‘Your inner child is a little rebel. What’s most important to you is your independence and your freedom to act, so you don’t like anything that places limits or constraints on you. You don’t like to be too easily read by people, so you often come across as contradictory. In fact, you don’t like to do what everyone else does and so you refuse to be pigeonholed, whatever it takes. If people try nevertheless to boss you around or give you advice you tend to ignore it because it’s often through being in opposition to someone that you feel most like yourself. This aspect of your inner child allows you to remain independent while hanging on to a certain originality. But sometimes this means that you end up refusing help or missing out on things that might have been interesting, just because they weren’t your idea. So, try to stop being difficult. Your inner child will only be able to grow if it is allowed to be in tune with others from time to time, instead of always going against the grain.’
3) My childhood self:
I realise now that the child I see in old photos is still very much within me.
4) A letter to my inner child:
I’m sorry, Lisa.
I’m sorry that you, an innocent child with such a sensitive soul, is being subjected to such a stressful way of living.
I’m sorry, Lisa.
I’m sorry for all the times you were left crying when you should’ve been comforted and protected.
Lisa, know that I am sorry…
I know that when you’re ‘out and about’, whether that be at school, on holiday, or even just out shopping, you look around and wonder why your family can’t get on like all the other happy, smiling families surrounding you do.
‘Am I to blame?’, you question.
And this is where I, future Lisa, must come in.
You are not to blame. Never were, never will be (unless you do something really bad, of course.) Though let me give you a head’s up, you don’t do anything ‘really bad’, and therefore you are indisputably not responsible for the conflicting nature of your home life.
Not even one little bit of blame is to be put on you.
So now you can breathe a sigh of relief.
Now you can stop feeling so guilty about everything.
I want you to remember that you’re just a child.
You don’t need to hold so much responsibility over things, leave that to the adults.
You just focus on doing the things that bring you joy, the things that help you to forget about the hard times, if only briefly. Doing so, engaging in the things that you love, is exactly what is meant when we talk about ‘escaping reality.’ You should do it more often.
What you shouldn’t do more often, though, is dancing.
Let’s be real, dancing is okay. There are far worse things to be doing in the world, but that doesn’t mean you should keep going anyway. If you don’t enjoy dancing anymore which, as you demonstrate, you really don’t, then you owe it to yourself to quit. Life is too short to spend it wasting your precious time doing things that you don’t even enjoy doing.
There are far greater things out there, just waiting for you to find them.
Hold out for the day when you do find them, for the day when all the pain and challenges you have faced in your past, make way for happiness and excitement in your future.
Just promise me that you will hold out for that day because, my God, you deserve it.
And promise me that you will never give up on your hopes and dreams, no matter how far away they may seem.
You are so strong and capable of achieving anything you put your mind to.
‘If you can believe it, you can achieve it.’
Keep being brave.
Keep being hopeful.
Keep being unapologetically you, Lisa Raine Fouweather.
5) Ten affirmations for my younger self:
– None of this is your fault.
– You do not deserve this.
– You’re just a child, it’s okay to be scared.
– You don’t need to act so strong and ‘held together’ all the time.
– Showing your emotions is not a sign of weakness.
– You’re safe, I promise.
– You’re so loved.
– It’s all going to be okay.
– Things will get easier.
– You won’t feel this powerless forever.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your journey to healing your inner child today.
Free yourself from your past.
Learn how to really be alive, instead of just surviving and enduring existence.
If I can do it, anyone can.