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What is Inner Child Healing?

parent and child holding hands

What is inner child healing?

We all have an inner child, this is the younger parts of ourselves that still need nurturing and caring for.

Healing your inner child, then, focuses on uncovering and  releasing the causes for the childlike aspects of your personality, so you can react to challenges in your adult life as an adult, rather than a child.

Often, many adults find themselves in situations where perhaps their partner or child ‘triggers’ them and what is actually happening in these moments is that you are having an emotional flash back which is related to your childhood so you react from your child self rather than responding as your adult self.

Healing your inner child means you learn to reparent yourself and to give yourself the things that you did not receive in childhood from your parents.

What is the inner child?

The term “inner child” can sound quite out there, however  the inner child is a psychotherapeutic concept that arose with Jung, and many therapists use forms of inner child work as a powerful tool to help clients. 

We first see the world though the eyes of a little child, and that “inner child” remains with us throughout our lives, no matter how outwardly “grown-up” and powerful we become.  If our vulnerable child was hurt, abandoned, shamed, or neglected, that child’s pain, grief, and anger live on within us. “I believe that this neglected, wounded inner child of the past is the major source of human misery,” says John Bradshaw author of Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child.

Why is inner child healing so important?

parent and child holding hands

Healing is so important because we cannot have the deeply connective relationships we want with others if we are acting from our wounded inner child parts.

As adults we walk around carrying wounds from our childhood, whether it’s simple or complex trauma, from emotional neglect to physical abuse. Many adults feel they’re alone with these hurts and feelings

Our inner child shows up in our parenting when we ‘lose it with our children’ or we default to ‘threats and punishments and we can see our inner child show up in our adult relationships when conflict arises and you shut down, stone wall or fight back with your partner.

Many of us didn’t learn how to resolve conflict well or didn’t have parents who sat with us when we had big feelings as children and instead we got punished, disciplined. Adults now acknowledge this and no longer want to repeat the same parenting patterns.

We often need to revisit our inner child to show them love and compassion and allow feelings to arise that perhaps have been stuffed down and suppressed for a long time. 

Signs your inner child needs healing:

  • You struggle to regulate your emotions. Either repressing them and withdrawing or finding yourself having angry outbursts.
  • You know you aren’t being the parent you want to be and find yourself repeating many of the same things your parents did to you.
  • You over value independence telling yourself “I don’t need anyone!” and never asking for help.
  • You feel disassociated, feeling like an outsider looking in on life.
  • You have poor boundaries and don’t know how to say no or how to put your needs first.
  • You are more reactive than responsive.
  • You have destructing coping behaviours or addictions.
  • You repeat the same patterns in your relationships which replicate attachment wounds from childhood.
  • You have poor emotional and mental health (depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, no motivation etc).

“When the inner child has been wounded through neglect of his developmental dependency needs, he either isolates and withdraws or clings and becomes enmeshed.”
― John Bradshaw, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child