Adopting Your Inner Child.
How’s your inner child feeling today?
Mine wants me to stop typing, and to leave my office and go outside into the fresh air and sunshine, as well as find some yummy food to eat — preferably chocolate!
The term ‘inner child’ used to be regarded as just American psycho-babble, but nowadays the term is coming out of the therapist’s office and into everyday language.
We were all once a child… innocent, dependant, curious, loving and playful. We were also very vulnerable to being wounded by not getting enough attention, emotional care and affection.
The first 1,000 days of our lives were crucial for our brain development. Our young brains were ‘wired’ up according to the emotional attachments we had with our care-givers; our sense of value to them, and how safe and loved we felt with them.
Our inner child also absorbed the feelings from those around us, as well as what we’d heard about ourselves and what we should expect from life in the future. It then created the template for the adult life we’re now living
By the time we’re six years old our template or S.C.R.I.P.T.© is in place.
These are our Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time and they are stored as both memories and bodily sensations (and can become the hidden reason for some of our physical, or psycho-somatic, ailments too).
We topped up the contents of the S.C.R.I.P.T. in adolescence and have been playing it out ever since. It’s said that the sub-conscious mind is running, and in some cases ruining, our lives over 90% of the time!
Don’t let that worry you too much. When we become aware of our own inner child — and what they had to endure, and what they didn’t get but still need — we can ‘adopt’ them ourselves, and metaphorically ‘take them home’ with us, and make it up to them.
We can ‘re-parent’ ourselves and heal our old emotional wounds — which frees us up to live a happier calmer future. This has a ripple effect to those around us…particularly our children and partner.
Signs of A Wounded Inner Child
There are many signs of a wounded inner child, but in a nutshell they tend to show up as someone being either too much or too little; too flexible or too rigid; to powerful or too weak.
These can be noticed from the voice, the eye-contact; the smile; the body posture; the taking up of personal space; the relationship with food; the ability to be playful; the baseline feelings of fear, sadness or anger; the expression of sexuality; the habitual patterns of thinking; the way personal boundaries are set up; neediness or over-independence in personal and working relationships; the attitude towards authority, how money and time is spent, and both self-care and care for the others.
When we’ve felt loved, cared for, significant and valued as a child we don’t need to hide and shrink, or to overly impose ourselves. Balance and moderation come from a calm sense of the inner child feeling OK about themselves.
How To Become Your Inner Child’s Champion
- Acknowledge what was missing in the past and decide how you will now make up for that yourself, whilst not over-indulging or over-compensating.
- Locate and grow the ‘good parent’ within yourself who will ‘re-parent’ your inner child, and be able to guide them in a loving way from now on.
- At times of distress silently speak with your inner child — especially if you have a photograph of yourself as a child to connect with.
- At times of celebration, playful delight, pride and joy, ensure that your inner child absorbs those good feelings from you. See their happy smiling face within your heart.
- Maintain a heart to heart connection between the ‘adult you’ and the ‘inner child you’.
- Always show self compassion and kindness. Your inner little kid needs you to give them a break! They did their best to survive back then so don’t repeat verbal, physical or sexual abuse or neglect upon them — break that cycle.
- Notice her/him…give them your time and attention. Make them significant to you. Focus upon the good that you see in them.
It is a very deep experience to meet with, and be trusted by, your own inner child. It’s not like grabbing the frightened kitten from under the sofa. That doesn’t work. The kitten will shy away and want to avoid you in future. So don’t bully or be impatient with your vulnerable inner child.
Take your time and be sensitive and patient if you want to develop feelings of trust, safety and respect. Form a relationship that will last forever.
You are the only person who will never leave you, so make the most of that by adopting your inner child, making a loving home for them with you, notice them and their needs and treat them with the care and kindness that every child deserves.
That place in our heart where our wounded inner child resides is also the place greatest healing and growth.
We all need some ‘Care & Repair From The Inside Out’ © — it starts with us.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharley.com — where you’ll find a page of FREE resources for you and your inner child — including How To S.H.I.E.L.D. Yourself From A Toxic Parent
www.maxineharleymentoring.com — helping women to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours… to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better.
www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk — a programme of 10 online Psycho-Emotional-Educational self-help workshops.
Originally published at lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk on July 15, 2015.