By Jill Schwartz, LMFT
Do you struggle with obsessive thoughts, anxiety, depression or addictions? Are you unhappy and unfulfilled in life, but don't know why? Do you have difficulty trusting yourself and others? Are you disconnected from your feelings? Do you constantly criticize yourself? Do you struggle with paralyzing fear at the thought of starting a new project or endeavor? Do you struggle with perfectionism and procrastination? Are your relationships painful? If you answered yes to some of these questions, you most likely have a wounded inner child. Inner Child healing and integration with the Healthy Adult part of us is imperative if we are to be mature, happy, peaceful, joyful, responsible, emotionally healthy and productive adults. People who have an inner child who isn't healed tend to react unconsciously to today's issues and situations out of past pain, rather than responding out of choice. If it’s hysterical, it’s historical. This means that if your reactions to present situations in your life are bigger than the situation calls for, it’s from the past.
You're probably asking, "What is an inner child and what's the point in dealing with him/her now as an adult? My childhood is past and long gone." Yes, this is true but until you address what happened back then, you will never be completely free. You will be bound by past negative learned beliefs that are unconsciously controlling your life. Neuroscience has shown that most of our decisions, actions, emotions and behavior depend on the 95% of brain activity that lies beyond conscious awareness, meaning that 95% (or as much as 99%) of your life comes from the programming from your subconscious mind, which was formed from birth to age 7. That is an astounding number! Basically, this is saying that almost all of life, moment by moment is controlled by the past and has almost nothing whatsoever to do with the present. That is, unless we reprogram the subconscious mind and the action steps I'm about to share will help you do just that!
Some symptoms of a wounded, unhealed inner child are people pleasing, lacking a strong identity, feeling guilty standing up for yourself, feeling inadequate or not good enough, relationship issues, difficulty identifying feelings, addictions, fear of abandonment, and self-criticism. It takes time, patience, and work to heal the inner child, but it will be the best investment of your life. The goal is to create a relationship with your inner child that is based on creating the love, support, fun, acknowledgement, acceptance, encouragement and safety that was missing growing up. I will share some action steps you can take today to start healing and reparenting your inner child.
The first is attending and working a 12 step program. I recommend Adult Children of Alcoholics. This program is based on reparenting the inner child in a loving, supportive environment. Shame gets healed more effectively in group environments where people can share their experience, strength and hope with others. The website is www.adultchildren.org.
The second is to write a letter asking for permission from him/her to create a collaborative relationship in working together to learn new healthy ways of living and being. There may be mixed emotions, such as anger, in response to this one, so be very patient in allowing him/her to open up to you. It's imperative to create consistency, stability and predictability in order for the inner child to feel safe opening up, so on a regular basis, ask questions such as, "How are you feeling?" "What would you like to do today?" "What do you need from me?" Then, have the inner child write the answers and then you, the adult, acknowledge their feelings and take appropriate action in meeting those needs. This will build trust, safety and connection. Make this an ongoing practice. As we all know, building relationships takes time, energy, and effort.
The third step is to utilize affirmations. Affirmations are a very powerful way to praise and build up the inner child. Examples are, "I love you," "I see you," "I accept you for who you are," "You are special," You are unique," Your feelings matter," or create your own. This will be effective in replacing the past negative messages and beliefs with more positive, realistic ones.
Fourthly, listening to inner child guided visualizations and self hypnosis programs is essential in healing the inner child and can be found on sites like YouTube. They reprogram the subconscious mind and empower people to live from a place of conscious choice, and therefore, help them stop reacting to the situations and people around them.
These are a few steps you can take to start healing and integrating the inner child into your self and your life. Inner child healing and reparenting has been the most powerful and beneficial work I have ever done in freeing myself from the past and has enabled me to live with more joy, love, peace, confidence and strength.
Feel free to contact me for guidance and support in creating a custom tailored plan heal and integrate your inner child into your life at www.expectmiraclestherapy.com