Children are like sponges!
Many people have not had ideal childhoods.
If you've experienced childhood trauma or abuse, you are not alone. Your trauma is real, and your feelings are valid.
Growing up, children are literally sponges. Up to the age of six, our brains function at a Theta brainwave frequency of 4-7 cycles per second. This is a relatively slow pace which is also considered a ‘receptive’ state; therefore, children are profoundly, and deeply affected by their childhood experiences. In fact, we have all been influenced by our environment since the time we were in our mother’s womb. Everything she experienced, her stress levels, the abundance or deficient of the feel-good hormones, the flooding of stress hormones, drugs, alcohol, and infections, all played a role in how safe we felt before we were even born.
Then the actual birth experience played a big role in our early development. Was it high risk? Were interventions used? Forceps? Furthermore, what was our early infancy like? How safe did we feel? What was the emotional availability of our caregivers?
Our Inner Child is the Keeper of our Memories
These experiences and emotions are locked within our bodies and our subconscious minds. Imagine that aspect of our selves having a ‘sticky’ nature. Everything we have experienced from the moment we were conscious, regardless of whether we could communicate with words or not, is somewhere held within us. And we are not consciously aware of it. The keeper of our memories is our inner child. Every experience sticking to us like glue, locked in our bodies and our psyche.
The Waters of our Being
These early childhood experiences create the waters of our being.
Are your waters clear? Murky? Or muddy with these childhood experiences? It is within these waters where our self-esteem, our body image, our family trauma, shame, and secrets all lay.
Though necessary, it is not easy to face the pain you experienced because of childhood trauma. If you avoid a painful childhood those memories and experiences may return to haunt you, you may experience nightmares or flashbacks. You might be having panic attacks or be prone to episodes of depression because you cannot seem to let go of what happened to you as a child.
Through inner child journeying we aim to clear our internal waters, and thereby not allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed by our negative thoughts, emotions, our doubts, and self-loathing. We want to sift through the dirty waters and remove the soot and reclaim hidden aspects of ourselves. This is empowering.
How a wound can echo through an adults life
When trauma starts interfering with your everyday functioning.
That is when you need to confront these issues.
The inner child is that small part of us that adults often express through their emotions. When the inner child is healthy it can express itself through the adult as creativity, discovery, play, intimacy, love, passion, enthusiasm, curiosity, and belief.
However, our inner child may be wounded, and crying out for attention. This may occur when the adult is carrying the pain of their childhood through their adult life. Possibly due to early dysfunction within their family.
This pain is held in their subconscious. The subconscious does not have a concept of time, and therefore someone may be in their fifties, but they may feel the pain of a hurt child or the age of 5, just like it happened yesterday. Consequently, their responses to life seem infected with this pain, and they appear to act childlike. Scars of childhood abuse and neglect affect adults’ brains for decades to come.
Our Inner Script
Your childhood trauma wounds will not heal unless you address them
To further clarify, those experiences we soaked up as children, helped us make decisions at a subconscious level. Specifically, how we should behave to survive in our families and have now become the script for how our life should be as adults. Basically, we carry these immature scripts and decisions into our adulthood, and they run our lives more than 90% of the time.
This internal script helps us to make sense of a world we may be struggling to understand as children, it also allows us to cope with these events. But if we do not create a new script growing up, the old way of interpreting the world can damage our ability to function as adults.
Therefore, it makes sense that we should revisit the experiences of our childhood, to find what our script says about our life, and the repetitive, unfolding drama we have been creating and repeating.
It is not easy to change the script, it was created to protect us, even now if it proves to be a hinderance in our adult lives, our subconscious mind does not give it up easily.
Is this right for you?
Some of us may feel sadness and carry the pain of our childhood.
The techniques we cover may be helpful for you. Perhaps you have issues around weight, or smoking, addictive behaviours, hoarding, early trauma, abuse, divorce in the family, anger issues, grief and loss, and those issues too may benefit from connecting and healing with the inner child. Because through this process we can heal the wounds of our past.
Other negative emotions that may be attached to an inner child wounding include shame, rejection, abandonment, and guilt. These too may benefit from inner child pathworking.
Belief in the process is a signal that it will be effective.
It is not for everyone
You need to trust your intuition on this.
Not everyone needs to revisit the past, and not everyone needs to heal their inner child. Some people may feel it’s ‘going backwards’. Others may fee that it’s not the right approach for them. That is all perfectly okay. Whether this does not resonate with you, or you just do not ‘believe in the process’, then this will probably not be beneficial for you.
Depending on your circumstance, this may be not enough to help heal your inner child. However, it is a step in the right direction. It may act as a diagnostic tool that reveals the healing you may require are deeper healing techniques through psychotherapy.
Just be mindful that not working on that inner dialogue our wounded child has created will mean we will repeat drama repeatedly.
Not believing in the process is a signal that it will not be effective.
Signs & Symptoms of an Inner Child Wound
Unexplained anger outbursts and feelings of aggression
Anger is in and of itself a healthy, natural emotion. However, in these instances the anger is disproportionate to the event and can be triggered by anything.
Issues with control, over the behaviour of others or those close to them
Feeling like people do not like you
Boundaries being too strong and too weak
Feelings of abandonment and rejection
Being fiercely competitive and a poor loser
Fear and distrust of authority figures
Issues with intimacy
Lack of genuine friendships
Being too passive or too aggressive
Feeling unworthy or not good enough
Being a perfectionist
Not able to hold a long-lasting relationship
We may try to silence those deeper longings with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, overspending, overeating, workaholism, self-harming, other ways of avoiding the real, and deeper needs we have. Needs we may not be fully aware of or have found a way to sufficiently meet.
Afraid to express needs
Sexually promiscuous or acting out sexually
Hiding their true selves
Hidden sense of shame
Chooses partners who are abusive or absent emotionally
Benefits of healing our inner child
When we heal our inner child, we begin to understand and explain our own behaviour which seems over the top, co-dependent, inappropriate or acting out.
We hope to repair and heal the wounds caused by our parents and others. This is about meeting the needs of the inner child, unmet needs.
This work needs to be revisited, and inner work that we continue for the rest of our lives.
Therefore, you should regularly get in touch with your inner child, genuinely caring for the inner child and meeting their needs.
It can help strengthen early development stages that may have been corrupted or missed
Helps us experience self-love
Teaches us ways to re parent ourselves
Supports us to enter the forgiveness process
Encourages whole integration for the actualized self
Those parts of ourselves that are hidden in those murky waters, are cleansed, healed, and integrated within us. We reconcile our shadow, which then allows room for growth and healing. It has a powerful effect.
Exercises and Tools, we can use to heal our inner child
Just talking about our problems does not change our inner script.
We can use various tools to do so,
Use the child within suggestions and journey, such as the one below.
You would need to do this often and beginning with once a week or more for a month is a great start. You can even just listen to it when you are sleeping as your mind never sleeps and soaks in all the healing, empowering suggestions.
Become aware of the inner critic voice and release it
Create an inner voice of encouragement
Write a letter to the child within, and the child within writes back
Practice nature awareness and meditation
Practice timeless solitude and comfortable aloneness
Engage in fun activities in life that stimulate the positive child aspect
Things like painting, playing, and other activities that get the creative juices flowing. Perhaps your inner child prefers exploring, travelling, visiting the museum or art gallery. Listen to what it needs, then have fun in meeting those needs. Even if the events of your past were traumatic, the therapy can be delightful and joyful too! Reward yourself and your inner child with things that make your heart happy.
Healing the Inner Child Within Hypnosis and Imagery Course presented by Cheryl O’Neil
Images: Unsplash Photos for Everyone
Copyright: Catherine Argyros ,The Barefoot Doctor I Wellness I Heart Driven Services 2019