Healing the Wounded Inner Child
We each have various parts of ourselves, similar to defense mechanisms, that at different situations take the wheel and lead during tumultuous, happy, relaxing moments. Many people develop “protector pieces” which help a person that was abused, injured, or taken advantage of throughout the child’s development to ensure the protector piece(s) protects the wounded part of them, the wounded inner child.
Our inner child encompasses both our positive and negative emotional paradigms. Our inner child lives in our psyche as the little child we once all were. Our inner child carries wounding of past trauma. Sometimes, we unconsciously allow our inner child to take the lead in things a child should never be in charge of- like disagreements in your relationship in which this inner child may be triggered to respond and react. Our inner child links to our emotions. It’s imperative to choose your adult self (your essence) to take charge rather than allowing your inner child to sit in the driver’s seat of the emotional train. Everything you would not allow a child to do, you cannot allow your inner child to do. You must re-parent yourself through past childhood wounding to re-teach your inner child boundaries, compassion, unyielding love, and support.
If you continue experiencing the same old patterns of hurt and trauma of the past in your current adult life, if you keep recounting the same story of suffering to others, if you experience adverse reactions to being touched or hugged and always feel you need to defend yourself against others, or if your feel afraid/ashamed to have your feelings or cry; all are likely signs of a wounded inner child within.
1. Develop an Understanding of Your Childhood. Talk more about the trauma or hurts you experienced during your childhood. No childhood is perfect and often times one’s needs are unmet (regardless of socioeconomic status). Do some introspection and explore this further with a professional, or by yourself, to identify hurts and unmet needs or traumas you experienced growing up.
2. Identify Repeated Life Patterns. Explore patterns of history repeating itself in the present. Your present triggers are most likely tied to experiences your inner child is still holding onto from the past. The first step is self-awareness.
3. Begin to Understand Your Pain. Face your pain. A Buddhist teaching asserts that an arrow hitting your hurt serves to increase awareness of the pain you feel within. In order to heal from your pain, you must first be aware that it is there. See your pain, feel your pain. Know where you feel the pain in your body, what color it is, what pain looks like to you. Be mindful of your intrinsic pain.
4. Re-parent and Love the Inner Wounded Child. It’s easy to shun the wounded child away, especially if you find it easy to get angry with yourself and annoyed at feeling vulnerable. It’s easier to be punitive and distant to yourself than to be a good friend to you. However, this is counterproductive and detrimental to your wounded inner child who has already experienced similar abuse or hurts. If you find yourself angry within, telling yourself negative discouraging messages- you re-create past wounding and abuse yourself- the same way others have abused, neglected, or rejected you. Your support and guidance to self is salient. Be your inner child’s parent and teach him/her love and compassion for oneself. Your inner child will also need you to practice forgiveness of self, forgiveness for having ingrained all those negative things you have said to yourself into your heart.
5. Cultivate Compassion Within. Learn to be good to yourself. If you wouldn’t allow a friend to be hurtful to you, why allow yourself to be intrinsically destructive? Cultivating compassion means you begin understanding the being you are, understanding your reactions to specific triggers, and makes room for change in any reactions you would like to improve because you are aware and considerate of them.
This process is a long-term journey. Do not do to you, the same trauma that has been inflicted upon you in the past. Be your ally. When you communicate and show compassion for your inner child, healing can happen.
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