Lovingly reparenting your inner child heals emotional wounds and releases the need to be loved and validated by others
How do you overcome a turbulent childhood? Is it possible to heal past trauma?
I had a very difficult and isolated childhood. I experienced chronic abandonment, which gave me this nagging feeling of emptiness and inner loneliness.
Since then I have become a truth seeker, looking for answers and trying to understand why things in my childhood happened the way that they did.
I went to see a psychotherapist grounded in attachment theory, to overcome the painful relationship I had with my parents and explore how I could heal my broken heart.
I sat down on the sofa. The heaviness of hurt and sadness weighed down on my chest. The glaring pain of grief in my throat. My body feeling tense and rigid as I felt the adrenaline shoot up the back of my legs.
I began to bare my soul and recall all the times when I felt abandoned and neglected by my parents. I struggled to get the words out of my mouth and all of the tormented pain that I had buried in my heart was being pulled and twisted out of me.
As I wiped off the brave smile on my face, I said the words out loud. “I hope that one day my mother will change”. As I said these words, the tears started to flow and my therapist said: maybe you need to grieve for the mother you never had.
I took one deep breath… and the painful yet bittersweet realisation came over me.
And in that moment, I realised that waiting for my mother to change was only tormenting me more.
I was still yearning for a parent I never had and not getting my expectations fulfilled left me feeling constantly hurt and disappointed.
She told me about inner child work and that I could lovingly re-parent myself by giving my inner child the love that I yearned for.
Nurturing your inner child, helps you to take your power back and give yourself the caregiver you never had in childhood.
Here are 4 tips for loving the inner child.
1. Step into awareness.
After so many years of repressing the inner child, it may take a while for you to connect with it. Pause. Be patient. Oftentimes an unhealed inner child shows up through overreacting, irritation, righteousness, blame, and/or telling feelings.
Reflect on what is triggering you. The root of the trigger is where love and self-compassion need to be applied. For instance, you might feel rejected by someone and this might trigger abandonment issues from your childhood.
Simple awareness of emotional wounds recreated in adulthood can do wonders to shift these patterns.
2. Sit with any emotions and sensations that come up.
Identifying emotional wounds can bring up strong emotions like sadness, loneliness, longing, anger, resentment, rage, depression, fear, and anxiety. Be gentle with yourself and notice any emotions and sensations that you feel at the moment.
So for instance, if I’m feeling sad I might say: I feel sad. But if I look at the sensations I can feel in my body I might say: I feel tension in my heart or my legs feel shaky. So if you want to connect to your inner child, you want to listen to your body and how your body is speaking.
Noticing the sensations in your body is going to help you to reconnect with the body experience your inner child is having.
3. Find out how you can validate and reassure your inner child.
Then you want to ask yourself: how can I validate and reassure my inner child? A lot of us do not allow our inner child to just be. We might criticise, diminish, shame or suppress certain emotions. But emotions are often signs of unmet needs from our childhood.
Instead, you want to practice allowing acceptance. So if you feel lonely, tell yourself it’s ok to feel lonely. It’s ok to feel sad. You have to feel it to heal it.
4. Call in your inner adult for additional support.
Now that you have reassured your inner child, you can call forth your inner adult.
The inner adult is the courageous, committed, and powerful aspect of ourselves. It doesn’t shame the inner child for what it wants and feels. Neither does it say that the inner child is wrong.
Rather, the loving inner adult trusts that the child’s feelings are not arbitrary and that they come from the child’s past experiences and from the beliefs that resulted from those experiences.
The inner adult is open to learning about and understanding this sadness and helps it to express it in appropriate ways. So, for example, if your inner child feels rejected, your inner adult might suggest taking a breath, going for a walk, and releasing its pains through expressive writing.
As you learn to treat your inner child more lovingly this strengthens the connection between the inner adult and the inner child, which fills the emptiness from within.
The more you practice nurturing your inner child, the more solid and full the internal connection becomes, leading to more joy, peace, emotional wholeness, and releasing the need to be loved and validated by others.