A brief conversation yesterday and another earlier today with people in my network touched on our growing children; specifically, daughters. That got me thinking about inner-child healing techniques. No, it’s not about having childish thoughts, rather the childlike aspect of all of us that’s often buried deep within our subconscious minds. Whether positive or negative, the inner-child is there for all of us, it’s part of who we are.
Natural enthusiasm, creativity, excitement, unmet needs, buried emotions, traumas, are all within each of us. They go back to the time when we didn’t recognize past or future because we lived very much in the present and questioned everything.
So, What Happened?
Well, I’m not going to dwell on this, otherwise this post may become a life’s work and such a project isn’t on my radar right now.
Family, friends, society happened. They told us how we should behave or respond to the surrounding triggers. Of course, some of it made sense and we complied without a backward glance. However, did we accept everything because we were told we must? I certainly didn’t. My inner-child objected more than once, I rebelled but eventually fell into line, or at least pretended to, where I could get away with it.
“What will you be when you ‘grow-up’, Steve”?
Here’s one response. “I will be in a band like The Beatles”. I was about five at the time. I loved music; it made my soul sing. My parents even bought me a plastic Beatles guitar! Yet they didn’t encourage me to follow a music path because as I grew their message strengthened. “You need an apprenticeship with British Aerospace. The good pay will get you a mortgage to buy a house for your family”.
Steve’s inner-child panicked within but went along with it because I loved my parents and didn’t want rejection. I managed that apprenticeship for five-years but was never genuinely happy, so I quit and went traveling for two-years before taking myself off to university to pursue a passion. The rejection I feared became a reality for a while, yet my inner-child got to experience the joys it sought because I gave it back its expression.
I also wonder if this is one of the reasons why so many people who start online businesses fail before they give it a chance? How many are conditioned to stay inside the box of working for an employer rather than doing what makes their inner-child smile and prosper?
The Inner-Child term was first coined by psychologist, Carl Jung who originated many theories about personality and identity through his analytical approach to human psychology.
It’s not within the scope of this post to study Jung so, here’s a resumé courtesy of Wikipedia if you would like to know more.
Is Your Inner-Child Suffering?
I’ve been working at mine since I first studied psychology and still things surprise me and come roaring back to the surface when I stumble across triggers. My Inner-Child likes that, it smiles when I allow its expression.
Think About It Like This
Scotsman, Hugh Magnus MacLeod of MacLeod is Chief of Clan MacLeod (phew, try saying that with a Scottish accent) said,
“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty, they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please”.
Here Are A Few Possible Signs of a Wounded Inner-Child
Don’t panic if you identify yourself here; there are plenty of helping strategies out there. I will share a few soon.
- In the deepest parts of yourself, you feel that something is wrong with you.
- Stepping outside your comfort zone causes anxiety.
- You’re a people-pleaser more than a you-pleaser.
- A poor keen sense of identity.
- You deliberately conflict with people around you.
- Do you hoard things, emotions, people, and do you have a tough time letting go?
- You feel inadequate as a man or a woman and frequently criticize yourself.
- You’re hard on yourself, inflexible and a perfectionist.
- Commitment and trust are challenging.
What’s the Fix?
Well, the good news is, we can all become the person we know we can be by healing our inner-child and allowing it out to play and experience the world. We can claim back our crayons by discovering the source of our fears, self-sabotaging tendencies, anxieties or lack of self-confidence. It’s not possible to erase the past but we can defragment our hard-drives and place our inner-child back in the root and archive the negative things just mentioned to varying degrees.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French aviator and author of The Little Prince (1943) summed this up very well in chapter one of his delightful story.
“Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them”.
- Take time each day to go back to your childhood. What brought you joy and happiness? Recreate those memories in your mind as though they were happening right now.
- Write to your inner-child and apologize for leaving them out in the cold or, invite them back into your life.
- Think about patterns that emerged during your childhood and see if they are still coming up in your life today.
- An abandoned child wasn’t getting enough parental attention because they were too busy or neglected their children.
- A playful child is often healthy but neglected in adulthood. When was the last time you played spontaneously without feeling guilty?
- The fearful child was criticized often and experienced anxiety because they didn’t get enough positive encouragement.
- Check-in; It’s important to pay attention to the positives and negatives of your inner-child feelings. Develop the habit of checking-in with yourself and ask, “how am I feeling right now”?
- Self-Criticism. Wow, if I had a $ every time I did that . . . However, it feels a little odd at first when connecting with our inner-child, even a little silly. I guess you could say it’s like having that special invisible friend who we were told to grow out of, and our self-criticism reinforces that message if we allow it.
- While it’s important not to disregard the critical self, neither should we ignore the voice of the inner-child. We need to find a balance and hear both. Listening enables us to connect with how we feel.
Avoid going too deeply into child mode that you neglect your adult obligations. Discover a balance that works for you.
Connecting Through Meditation
In my recent post, “Mindful Meditations”, I shared a couple of simple meditation techniques because from experience, I know they can help with many aspects of life, including connecting with our inner-child. There are no surprises that they are used by psychologists and neuroscience and psychology research suggests that mindfulness meditation might be changing brain activity in areas linked with emotions.
Some people have difficulty following written meditation instructions but there are also plenty of free guided meditations if you care to search the Internet. Do check-out the credentials first.
Here’s a free one I first used a couple of years ago in a MindValley Masterclass delivered by a British hypnotherapist, Marisa Peer. No catches other than you will have to make a free MindValley account although you may see a couple of up-sells that you can ignore as you choose. Marisa is great to listen to as she uses hypnotherapy to guide you toward building a relationship with your inner-child.
Through my own inner-child connection, I know that I don’t need a regular job as ordained all those years ago and my success is only a matter of ongoing and consistent action.
So, going back to those brief conversations about daughters I mentioned at the start of this post, this quote from Kahlil Gibran, in The Prophet (1923), sums up something I work at each day.
“You may give them your love but not your thoughts”.
It doesn’t mean I don’t share my thoughts with our children, but I don’t expect acceptance and I never disregard theirs.
Coaching and Tools That Help
Relating to these there are plenty of tools that can help with your Personal Growth and Development whether you feel challenged or just seek to advance the way you respond to your world. Please leave your contact details in the comments and you will receive a prompt response. Alternatively, you can send an email. Please understand that your contact details will never be shared outside ExGro or published on this website. Confidentiality is always assured.
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Comments and Questions
Leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.
I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience coaching in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, clinical psychologist and friend, Leo Faerberg.