“The child is in me still and sometimes not so still.”– Fred Rogers
No matter how old you are, there is a part of you that is still very, very young. And, for most of us, this young part of us is hugely influential when it comes to our moods, our thoughts, our behavior, and especially our subconscious or seemingly instinctive reactions.
Becoming aware of your inner child (and all of the parts within you) is crucial, because unless you are friends with who you used to be, you cannot become who you want to be. And when we aren’t at peace with our inner child, it will often come out in self-destructive behaviors or in compulsive, repetitive behavior. This is particularly true when it comes to self-soothing behaviors like eating, drinking, smoking, drug use, and sex, as well as when it comes to repeatedly choosing the same kind of toxic relationships or abusive partners.
Your inner child is the seat of your most primal wounds and your deepest fears. But, it is also the seat of your greatest creativity and your natural intuition. And, your inner child often houses a powerful capacity for love and connection. But, in order to get that powerful love and magical creativity, we have to first be willing to sit with our inner child and tend to those wounds that we have neglected for so many decades.
On my latest episode of “The Language of Love,” I am sitting down to talk with a caller who is struggling with the reasons why she keeps ending up in dead-end relationships. Give it a listen and then look inward and see where your inner child may be calling for help.
To connect to your inner child, you need to connect to your physical self. The body stores our trauma, long after our mind has distracted us and taken us away from the disturbing memories. While this might sound like a bad thing, it is actually beneficial to us that our bodies do this, because this stored trauma is like a compass we can use to navigate to our most primal wounds and begin our most important healing.
Whenever you are triggered or become quickly, deeply emotional about something, without exactly knowing why or without fully understanding why you are suddenly so upset, you can be certain that it is your inner child talking and that it is one of your primal wounds that is being touched. For example, I have a client who used to get very upset when she heard children crying in stores or in public places. She hated hearing even the slightest fussing from babies and littles ones, and she would often leave or avoid environments where that kind of thing might happen (like parks, family parties, etc.).
In doing somatic therapy, my client discovered that the reason she was so triggered wasn’t that she was angry at the sound of children fussing, but frightened. She was triggered on a primal level by these sounds, because in her childhood, those sounds meant a beating was about to happen. Long after she tried to blank out these memories and pretend she was fine, her physical self continued to store these feelings of fight-flight-or-freeze. So anytime she heard children fussing and parents trying to get them in line, her body would flood cortisol and make her feel like she was in an dangerous situation.
That is why if you want to get in touch with your inner child, the best way to begin is by getting in touch with your body. When my client first was working on her feelings of anger and frustration, we did a body scan. This is where I have my clients close their eyes and travel inside their bodies to ‘scan’ themselves like an old-fashioned Xerox machine. They look for any places of tension or discomfort, then sit with that area of tension.
I ask them to let that area grow as big and as gnarly as it needs to. Just bring your attention to that area and let it light up with all the power and might it can muster. Then, if you sit with that sensation, you can start unlocking images and memories. For my client who hated the sound of children crying, she almost immediately accessed a memory of her father spanking her in the middle of a supermarket. From there, similar memories began to surface.
As we continued to sit with her inner child and work on these locked feelings in her body, we found so much more than just the root cause of her irritation at crying children. We discovered that she had lots of pent-up anger and sadness that she was carrying in her belly and her chest, which made a lot of sense as she struggled with chronic G.I. issues and unexplained chest pain. Treating these issues required more than just medication and physical therapy: It required her learning to heal her inner child who had been so neglected and harmed, and to bring tenderness and playfulness back into her life. She learned to let her inner child come out and play, meaning she was finally able to make art, sing off key, jump in the puddles, and do all the silly and joyful things she was not permitted to do as a child.
So, if you want to connect to your inner child, you will have to be willing to look to the places where you are deeply triggered. It might be something that happens at work, but for most of us, it will often be something that happens in our own home or with our own families and close friends.
For many of us, there will be great wounds stored there with our inner child. Even if you had a perfectly blissful childhood (which so few of us sadly do), all children experience tumultuous fears and self-doubt. Perhaps your core wound is not feeling good enough or not feeling worthy of love. Perhaps your core wound is thinking everyone will eventually leave you or that you have to work extra-hard to make sure people don’t see the ‘real’ you, because then they will leave you. Perhaps your core wound is around your gender identity or sexual orientation.
Whatever the wound might be, simply bringing attention and awareness to this pain will do worlds of good for your inner child. You don’t need to have solutions to satisfy your inner child. You don’t need to be able to rewrite history and make the pain of your childhood wounds go away. Yet as you bring attention to your inner child, something miraculous will happen: The pain won’t feel overwhelming anymore. The pain won’t feel like *who* you are, but rather just a piece of your history that you can sit with and be with, without fear. It will feel like something you can learn from and something that can deepen your compassion and your capacity for love and self-care, rather than something you have to wish away or drink away or run from.
As you wrap up the exercise of sitting with your inner child, pause and ask yourself what your adult self would like your child self to know. What would you like to leave your inner child with? What message or thought can you leave with your past self? Again, the answer will come to you very quickly if you let the experience unfold without judgment. Perhaps you will want your child self to know that your life is beautiful and full now. Perhaps you want your child self to know that she is strong and worthy, and that the poor behavior of the adults around her does not define her. Perhaps you want your child self to know that someday they can be their whole selves without fear, and that they will be accepted and supported by a community who loves them.
When you have finished this exercise, check out my book Quantum Love if you haven’t already. Quantum Love will help you take your journey to self-knowledge, healing, and manifestation even further than you ever thought possible.