Could these symptoms refer to you?
- struggle to recover from early or childhood traumas and injuries?
- feel your old wounds will not heal?
- fail to take care of your own needs?
- lack self control?
- have an enduring sense of worry and anxiety?
if so, then it might be time you to take care of your inner child.
Why should I care about my inner child?
The inner child is where you started from, it is who you were before life’s hard knocks, and before you learned to hide your true self away behind your adult persona. It is a source of energy and creativity.
Imagine what you could do with that energy now?
For a lot of people this inner child represents a side that, because of difficult early environmental issues, they have never had the chance to connect with.
Inner child is a term for your spontaneous and creative side which for various reasons often ends up hidden away within you.
You can think of your inner child as the authentic and imaginative side of you. The you that intuitively knows what it wants. This means that if you are in touch with it you are more likely to know what you want. And knowing what you want is the first step towards getting what you want, the first step towards having more satisfying relationships.
So what do you want?
The inner child is still within you, it is different to your adult conscious mind, to the persona that you have developed and know today.
A lot of the problems we get into in life stem from us being cut off from our true self, our inner child selves.
Why isn’t my inner child running things already?
Because you have had to develop a protective shield around your inner child in order to protect your more sensitive and vulnerable self.
The downside of that being that you end up showing people a false version of yourself rather than the true you. This means that you end up living a life that doesn’t really feel like the life you want.
How would it help me if I was more connected to my inner child?
You might be able to have more satisfying relationships because you would pick partners that get on with the inner you, the true you, rather than the ones who fit solely with the persona you have built over the years.
- You would be able to have more intimacy and honesty in your relationships
- You would like yourself more
- You would feel more at home in yourself
- You would be able to be spontaneous
- You would follow up your good ideas
It may be missing from your life now but it is still there, inside you, hidden away, waiting for the right opportunity to risk putting its head above the parapet.
Q. Why doesn’t it come out?
A. Because the last time it did it got the hell scared out of it.
If you went through traumatic experiences early in life, it is more likely to be hiding away so as to make sure it doesn’t get damaged again.
Donald Winnicott, psychoanalyst and paediatrician, wrote about the true and false self.
In Winnicott’s model (The Use of an Object 1971) there are people who have never felt secure enough of the people around them, their primary care givers, to reveal their inner selves. Winnicott writes about the care that a psychotherapist needs to be able to provide so as to avoid making the client feel more defensive than they already are.
For Winnicott (1896 –1971) the psychotherapist needs to be able to provide a predictable and consistent environment. The client needs to be able to come to feel that the psychotherapist is not a threat. Winnicott is very clear that this kind of a sense of safety might take a time to be achieved.
But there is a very good reason for taking time and doing this work, because it will enable you to reconnect with your deeper inner self. Doing this work will enable you to feel you can settle, relax, breathe, and be able to think more clearly about what you want.
Remember when you knew and felt able to play? Your inner child knows how to play.
Maybe you never got the chance to play. Maybe your inner child was put in its place as soon as you were born. Maybe, and that is a great shame and source of regret, but it is still in there, in you, waiting to feel safe enough to come out and play. Finding a way to pursue this work may help you reconnect with that long neglected inner side of you.
Isn’t it time you reconnected with you inner child?
Your inner child has had to adapt, not just to big traumatic issues like sexual abuse or domestic violence or traumatic bereavement, but the more everyday traumas of being neglected, rejected, humiliated or criticised.
The place of safety that your inner child took up refuge in may have become something of a prison now.
Your inner child might be a prisoner within you wanting to find a way to get out now. Sometimes moods like depression or irrational behaviour are to do with this inner child reminding us that it is stuck within us and that it needs attention in order to join in.
Why should you work to help it join in? Because living without it is limiting and curbs your enthusiasm for life.
Often people end up looking for things that will satisfy them, a new car, handbag, expensive watch or sex and drugs. These things don’t tend to be very satisfying in the longer term. What would really satisfy us would be making a connection with this inner part of us that has been sidelined for so long.
I have twenty years experience of helping people find ways to engage with and to try to come to terms with being bereaved.
Giving yourself the chance to speak in a confidential setting about your experience, your loss and grief may be a helpful thing to do. It may provide you with the chance to talk about how your life has been affected, to speak without feeling you have to worry about someone else’s feelings. It may help you adapt to what has happened.