What is inner child work?
Commonly, inner child work is associated with trauma and overcoming traumatic experiences.
As adults, unresolved trauma can manifest through our behaviour. For example, if we experienced trauma relating to neglect or loneliness and a plan doesn’t go our way (in adulthood), we may burst into tears or scream or stomp. It is not our adult-self, but maybe our 6 year old self acting out.
On the other hand, inner child work can help us come back to the joyous, innocent and even playful aspect of ourselves.
This is why inner child work is so important for healing and moving forward.
5 ways to honour your inner child
1. Find professional, medical and mental health support
If you have come to realise that you may be experiencing unresolved childhood trauma, seeking a professional can be a safe way to heal and process.
Often therapy and counselling allows us the space and time to truly tune into our emotions and past memories.
By doing this, we can begin to get to the root of the problem and over time, we can heal.
2. Write a letter to your inner child
The goal here is to embrace the joy and innocence we had in the past. Acknowledging this aspect of ourselves can be an affirming experience.
What you felt back then, still matters now. As adults, we may down play our emotions but it is important to honour them.
To this day, I write letters (well, emails) to my future self. That way I can see how far I’ve come from the year before.
Letting our inner child know that we hear them and acknowledge their pain can shift you from thinking in pain to healing and rebuilding.
3. Be the adult you needed as a child
If you needed safety or stability back then, have you been striving for that in adulthood?
Does your life now meet your inner child’s needs?
If not, what can you do in a small or drastic way to achieve that?
It could be as simple as going back to things you enjoyed as a child: drawing, colouring or watching an animated movie.
Get in touch with who you were before the trauma. Embrace the joy, the innocence and curiosity.
For me, safety and stability are a large driving force behind why and how I function as an adult. I strive for a life that is stable emotionally, financially and mentally. I strive for a life that is safe in the sense of being free from violence, toxic arguments and an unsafe living environment.
This will always be an ongoing process, because life circumstances can change (and has changed) in an instance.
4. Speak to your inner child
It may seem really strange so stay with me on this! It can actually be a powerful way to heal and move forward.
Find a place in your home (or within the walls of a therapeutic practice if that is safest).
Imagine meeting your younger self.
Short phrases like, “I hear you” or “I see you” can be powerful when it comes to inner child work.
It can also be unnerving if you’ve never done this before. Alternatively, writing a letter like I mentioned above can be substituted for this activity.
5. Know that it wasn’t your fault
Experiencing trauma as a child is not your fault. Accept this fact and remind yourself if you forget.
You can even create a private blog or write that affirmation somewhere as a reminder.
Inner child work can be rather confronting and we may have the tendency to feel shame or embarrassment for the way we act or even acted when we were a child. That’s okay.
Trust in the process of healing and take it one step at a time.
Healing takes time
Until my early 20s, I was not wholeheartedly aware of childhood trauma or the fact that unresolved trauma can manifest in adulthood in powerful ways.
Once I started seeing a counsellor, I knew that this was a journey that would take years to process and heal from.
Despite the tears, shame and anger that bubbled to the surface, it has all been worth it.
To this day, I’m glad I started this journey. I’ve learned so much not just about myself, but about how supportive my loved ones are and have been.
Life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine and we may experience pain, heartbreak, abuse, loneliness or disappointment. Regardless, know that you are worthy of healing and that it is possible to overcome.
*This blog provides general information and discussions about mental health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be taken as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.