Inner child healing: 5 exercises to try
The “inner child” is one of those concepts that is used regularly yet is a little confusing to think about.
It’s referred to in different ways, ranging from “the child archetype”, to “the child within”, to “the wonder child” to the “wounded child.”
A few days ago I did an incredible masterclass hypnotherapy session with Marisa Peer (it’s online and free – you can do it too by clicking here). In the session, Marisa takes us back to childhood in order to clear any traumatic experiences we had that have resulted in a fear of rejection.
The hypnotherapy session was so powerful that I decided to investigate the concept of the “inner child”. In this article, I’ll break down what it means and will share 5 surprisingly powerful exercises to heal your wounded “inner child”.
What is the inner child?
The term “inner child” doesn’t refer to the part of your brain that is reserved for having childish thoughts!
Rather, the inner child exists as the childlike aspect within your unconscious mind. It reflects the child we once were, in both her “positive” and “negative” aspects.
Our unmet needs and suppressed childhood emotions, as well as our childlike innocence, natural enthusiasm, and creativity, are all waiting within us.
The repressed emotions refer to all of the things you were taught as a child not to feel if you wanted to receive love. The result: you were only offered attention when you obeyed.
It’s almost inevitable that this happens when parents, education, and society impose rules and standards to help socialize us into becoming functioning human beings. In fact, it’s good that this happens. Constraints are required in order to understand boundaries and grow as human beings.
However, the result is that the inner child within you still holds onto the sadness, anger, and trauma that resulted from feeling rejected.
Simple examples of things we learn from our upbringing that result in feelings of rejection are as follows:
“You’d better not say what you really think”,
“Don’t try to get that promotion because you aren’t smart enough”,
“Sex is bad” and
“You need to make your parents happy.”
Connecting with the inner child focuses on bringing these feelings to the light of your consciousness so that you can find the root causes of the challenges you’re facing as an adult.
Below we’ll share the 5 surprisingly powerful ways to heal your wounded inner child. But first, a quick note about Carl Jung, the originator of the term.
His work has been studied the world over, and today, many of his theories and suggestions for improving one’s life are still used widely.
Jung is reported to have originated the term “inner child” with the “divine child archetype”. It’s used as a concept to explore our challenges growing up and developing our personalities.
In this sense, the “inner child” stays within us, forming a part of our consciousness as images. This has an impact on how we interact with the outside world.
Read more about Carl Jung here.
The “inner child” is an autonomous and hidden form deep within. It’s transformed when given expression.
How to recognize if you have a wounded inner child
How do you know if your past trauma is affecting you deeply right now? Is it connected to your inner child?
These are some signs that you may have a wounded inner child:
You feel that there is something wrong with you, in the deepest parts of yourself.
You experience anxiety when going out of your comfort zone.
You’re a people-pleaser.
You don’t have a strong sense of identity.
You deliberately like being in conflict with people around you.
You’re a hoarder of things, emotions, people, and you have a hard time letting go.
You feel inadequate as a man or a woman.
You constantly criticize yourself for your supposed inadequacy.
You’re unforgiving to yourself, rigid and a perfectionist.
You have a hard time committing and trusting.
You have deep abandonment issues and would cling to relationships, even when they are toxic.
There are many more signs that your inner child may be wounded. Truthfully, all of us, no matter how small or insignificant, have traumas from our past that need addressing.
Inner child healing, or inner child work, is an essential part of inner work, the psycho-therapeutic or spiritual process of changing yourself to become the person you know you can be. On its own, inner child healing reconnects us to the wounded elements of our inner child within.
According to prominent psychospiritual counselor and mentor, Mateo Sol:
“Inner child work is the process of contacting, understanding, embracing and healing your inner child. Your inner child represents your first original self that entered into this world; it contains your capacity to experience wonder, joy, innocence, sensitivity and playfulness.”
This reconnection allows you to access the fragmented parts of yourself so that you can discover the root of your phobias, fears, insecurities, and self-sabotaging inclinations.
How to heal your wounded inner child
Deep within us resides the memories of the experiences we had as children. These memories continue to live and interact with the present.
Our inner child is the source of our vitality and creativity, and developing a relationship with our inner child helps to heal emotional problems that result from not honoring this part of ourselves in our adult lives.
There are many pressures in our adult lives that threaten to extinguish the flame of our inner child that lives within. You can fight back against these pressures by connecting with your childhood source.
Here are 5 ways to immediately connect with your inner child.
1. Reconnect with your childhood: One way to do this is to “time travel” back to your childhood. You can do this by making a list of things that brought you joy when you were young. Spend some time daydreaming and reliving these memories as though they were happening today.
2. Identify your specific inner child: According to WikiHow, there are patterns of childhood that are common to most people. See which patterns resonate with you in order to see what is coming up in your life today. Here are the examples they cite:
The abandoned child: This inner child often emerges from not getting enough attention from parents. It can be relatively innocent, such as parents being too busy, or it can be more severe, coming from abuse or neglect.
The playful child: This child is healthy and often neglected in adulthood. Do you remember when you were feeling playful and spontaneous, having fun without guilt or anxiety?
The fearful child: This child received a lot of criticism and regularly experiences anxiety when not getting enough affirmation.
3. Write a letter to your inner child: You can do this in the form of an apology if you feel you’re living a life that doesn’t honor your inner child. Or you could write a simple letter explaining that you wish to build a stronger relationship with your inner child in your life today.
4. Pay attention to your feelings: Your inner child is sensitive and vulnerable. It’s important to pay attention to your inner child’s fears and insecurities as well as the joys and feelings of wonder that often come up when connecting with your inner child. Throughout the day, check-in with yourself and ask, “how am I feeling right now?”
5. Be mindful of your inner critic: One of the biggest challenges I faced in spending time with my inner child was feeling like a fool for doing so. I’m an adult now and it felt silly to try and connect with the feelings I was having when I was a child. This was my inner critic speaking. It’s important to listen to this voice, at the same time as listening to the voice of your inner child. All of these voices deserve to be heard, and by listening to them you’ll give them the space to shape how you’re feeling today.
What do you think of these ways to connect with your inner child? Can you think of any other methods that have been useful to you? Let us know in the comments below.
“Caring for your inner child has a powerful and surprisingly quick result: Do it and the child heals.” – Martha Beck
Right now, meditation is highly researched in the fields of neuroscience and psychology. There are even studies that suggest that mindfulness meditation might be changing brain activity in areas linked with emotions.
If you are a beginner in meditation, it might be hard for you to sit with your thoughts or to empty your mind of distractions. I suggest you enroll in some classes or begin practicing meditation yourself before you start guided meditation child work.
Meditation takes a lot of practice. It requires you to be honest yet kind to yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions. The process of “witnessing your thoughts” can be a particularly difficult technique.
However, you can start by doing the easiest and most common approach to meditation – by focusing on the breath.
If you’re already experienced in meditation, you can perform this meditation journey provided by Mateo Sol:
Breathe deeply and relax. Allow yourself to witness your thoughts. Ask your question. Example: “Dear inner child, when was the first time I experienced trauma in my life?” Allow yourself to witness the thoughts that rise and fall within your mind. Your inner child may or may not decide to reveal the answer to you. Remember to be patient, loving and accepting. If your inner child doesn’t want to reveal the answer, embrace that. It’s important that your inner child feels safe, secure, and ready.
This process may take a couple of minutes to an hour. You can also do this meditation repeatedly until your inner child starts showing you some answers.
If you are a beginner at meditation and would like a simple way to get started, check out my article: Alan Watts taught me the “trick” to meditation (and how most of us get it wrong).
Using hypnotherapy to build a relationship with your inner child
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned a free masterclass hypnotherapy session by Marisa Peer. Taking this class inspired me to research the concept of the inner child and make this information more widely available through Ideapod.
There’s a good reason to use hypnotherapy to create a deeper connection with your inner child. Here’s what Mindworks says:
“Inner child hypnosis uses a variety of tools and techniques to access, communicate with, calm, and heal a client’s inner child. Hypnotherapy to heal the inner child can create positive changes in the adult who seeks greater self-worth and self-acceptance. It can help them to overcome self-sabotaging behavior that their inner child learned in order to cope with dysfunctionality. But to achieve these goals requires the full cooperation of the client who must really want to heal and make the changes, must believe that they can heal and make positive changes, and must be open to using the tools and techniques provided.”
For me, the free masterclass with Marisa Peer was a fantastic way to get started using hypnotherapy to connect with my inner child.
Marisa Peer is a bestselling author, motivational speaker, and pioneering hypnotherapist trainer. I really appreciated her style of speaking in the masterclass. She wasn’t overly enthusiastic in a distracting way. Rather, the power came from the content of what she was saying. For me, the most charismatic speakers focus attention on the message, rather than the speaker themselves.
Make sure you check out the free masterclass here. Then come back here and leave a comment letting me know whether hypnotherapy was effective for you or not.