If you’ve majored in psychology, or have done psychology work as a patient, you’ve likely encountered this phrase or notion. We hear about it in popular psychology, and your therapist may have brought up the idea to you.
But what exactly is an inner child and why is this work important to help you heal? Why is it important to nurture, parent and address the needs of the inner child in order to become truly free?
In this blog post, we’ll discuss those questions and more, as you learn how to nurture the inner child in you that relies on you for help and sustenance.
Read on to help your inner child receive the care it did not originally.
What is the Inner Child?
Before we go on, you should be aware of what the inner child actually is. If you’re not familiar with psychology or the spiritual practice of inner child work, it might sound like a “hippy dippy” notion. But, it is incredibly helpful, especially for those who did not receive everything they needed as children.
The formal definition of the inner child is the person’s “original or true self,” and one that is not necessarily shown in their everyday life after they reached adulthood.
This can be one working definition, but many others refer to the inner child as the child you once were and the trauma inflicted on you during this formative period. As a child, almost everything that happened to us left an impression. And as a child, no matter how perfect our parents were, there were still needs that they could not meet. This is often due to their own issues.
But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that inner child work is blaming your parents for their shortcomings. An inner child may have not had their full needs met by other adults in their lives that let them down. Or, they may have suffered abuse at the hands of adults that were not their parents.
The inner child, as such, is kind of the shell or ghost of the you that you once were before puberty. It represents all of the needs and traumas you suffered that were not addressed.
Why Do We Focus on an Inner Child?
Of course, some people may have had very happy childhoods and only experienced traumas in their adulthood. It may be these adulthood experiences that have led them to seek therapy or other support. But does that render inner child work null? Not at all.
The very core and fundamental beliefs about ourselves were set in our minds as inner children. How adults and other children behaved, the way we were raised, the culture we were raised in, etc. all have influences on the way we think today.
For example, you may have decided to seek therapy after a particularly nasty divorce. This divorce may have crushed your self-esteem, and you may feel that inner-child work is unnecessary. After all, you had everything you wanted growing up, and your parents were amazing. Why do you need to nurture your inner child?
Well, inner child work can help you understand why this divorce crushed your self-esteem so badly. As a child, maybe adults were not as supportive as you remember them to be. Maybe your religion or culture taught you that you were not good enough unless you did or were specific things.
Perhaps these echoes still play out in your mind as an adult, causing this divorce to be more difficult than it might be if you had given your inner child permission to heal.
As your formative years shape and inform almost everything about you as an adult, tapping into your inner child is one of the fundamental ways to begin healing.
Nurturing Your Inner Child
Inner child work can take many forms. You may choose to meditate to connect with your inner child. You may choose to write a letter to your inner child. Or, you may choose to discuss what your inner child needs with your therapist.
Once you connect with your inner child, you can begin to tune into the things your inner child is missing. Does your inner child miss a parent who was always at work? Does your inner child need someone to let them know that your external appearance isn’t everything? Does your inner child miss a parent who chose not to be involved in your life when you were very young?
What your inner child needs is specific to you and your journey. Everyone’s inner child had needs that weren’t met for one reason or another. But your job is to pinpoint those needs and try to fulfill them now. Once you’ve been able to establish what it is your inner child wants and needs, you can begin to move forward, and give your inner child permission to heal.
Giving Your Inner Child What It Needs
Inner child work can be intense. It can be highly emotional and even painful. It may even bring up feelings and thoughts you didn’t know you had surrounding your childhood. But, it is a great way to help you tear down negative thoughts and the hurt that you faced as a child so that you can begin on a clearer path to balanced mental health.
If you’re ready to begin intensive mental health treatment, D’Amore is here to help you on your journey. Click here to read more about our varied and effective mental health programs.