Healthy relationships with ourselves and with others are built on the shoulders of the reparenting, re-partnering, and re-friending nature of inner child work.
Last time I wrote about what the inner child is and five signs to know when our inner child has shown up in the present moment. You can read more about it HERE.
This week I’m exploring why inner child work is so life changing, what’s possible when we work with our inner children, and how to start a daily practice of nurturing this part of ourselves.
Why work with your inner child?
Working with our inner child can be some of the most life-changing work we can do in soothing, holding, and healing our deepest gashes of the Soul. A relationship with our inner children can reduce our reactivity, anxiety, depression, shift us from reaction to conscious response, and most of all expand the internal and external ease in our life.
When I think about the loving partnership I have now and the deep friendships I’ve cultivated, I can't imagine having such a strong community of support in my life without the inner child work I've done and continue to do for myself. For meeting my inner child for the first time brought greater context that I wasn't able to see in all of my other daily self-awareness work and practices.
The inner child was a long-time missing puzzle piece for me. From years of a mindfulness practice, I could name my emotions when I felt them. I was aware of when I got triggered (a heightened response in my nervous system and emotional wave). However, I didn't know entirely the root story of “why.” While I knew that I struggled to ask for what I needed for years and fell into people pleasing, I couldn’t find the original moments in time that sparked the weaving of this powerful story and habit pattern. The inner child held these secrets.
When I met my inner child for the first time I discovered the root of big core patterns I was intimately aware of and unable to fully shift. After some time as I worked with my inner child I was finally able to start shifting them in massive ways.
What’s possible when you work with your inner child?
Once we connect in with the inner child, our personal growth and inner healing work can make Quantum leaps. Finally, we can integrate the fragmented pieces of ourself that have been lost, frozen, and hiding along the way. These pieces are like puzzle pieces of our deepest psyches here to help us understand the core of our earthly selves.
I want to be clear. Sadly, I think the inner child has received a cliche reputation in recent times which can diminish, sideline, or even oversimplify this work. This is unfortunate because authentic inner child work has the potential to give us some of the golden keys to unlock our potential, purpose, fulfillment, and knowledge of our worthiness. In fact, the little ones inside of us hold these keys in the palms of their hands and they desperately want the adult in us to receive them. When we finally show up, they often meet us with a sense of relief.
How to start cultivating a daily relationship with your inner child.
Inner child work is not a “quick win” practice. Rather, perhaps a lifelong journey. So this week, I want to plant the seed and light the flame with a mini process to get you started.
Step 1: Find the inner child
Think of a recent time when upon reflection, your emotional, or body feeling response did not seem to fully match what was happening in front of you. Perhaps the feeling felt misaligned or larger in size than what was unfolding. For some additional ideas check out my blog where I share the 5 signs that your inner child is present HERE.
Name the emotions and feelings. Perhaps the emotions are a single word like “anger” or “frustration” or “exasperation”. Or maybe they are a cluster of feelings like “revved up” or “zoned out.”
Get clear on where they show up in your body. As you hold them in your awareness, where do you notice your body responding. Whether you're working with named emotions or sensations connect with where your body is lighting up. For example, if you notice a sensation in your chest when you bring up frustration, explore the nature of that sensation like “radiating and pulsing hot energy” and name it.
Now ask yourself intuitively, what age is the little one inside of you feeling that pain? Don't overthink it. Simply go with the first age that pops into your head and just trust it.
Step 2: Meet the inner child
Bring that little one up in your minds eye. Is she 8 years old with side pig tails and painted jeans? Are they five years old and hunting for wild plants in the back yard with dirt under their nails? Imagine they are with you now.
Ask them, what do you need and listen to their response. What do they say? Or what do you sense? Do they need to have space? To be free? To feel loved? Write this down.
Step 3: Connect with the inner child
For the next week, each day, bring this inner child into your mind’s eye and give them precisely what they said that they need. Imagine giving them a hug and holding them for love, imagine giving them a big open field for space. Imagine them doing their goofy dance and being completely wild and free.
As a bonus, translate this into your lived experience during the day. Do one tiny thing each day that honors the need you are fulfilling now. Perhaps that is just five extra minutes of space between appointments that you give yourself rather than checking your email. Or perhaps that is turning on your music loudly before your partner comes home and dancing wildly and free. Or perhaps that is a consistent commitment to writing yourself a long love letter each week that you snail mail to yourself once a month.
This is just the beginning. Developing an authentic relationship with our inner child takes time and consistent practice. The practice I've shared today is simply to ignite a flame to tend to on a consistent basis. How you tend to that flame will change over time. Starting is the most important step and then continuing to show up for that little one inside of you.
The inner child healing in us can only be done by ourselves. So often we make the mistake to unconsciously expect our partner, friends, or family members to soothe these gashes. They can be a support, however, the process is our’s to claim and maintain.
I find it helpful to have a guide along the way to support us in our skills and capacity to hold space for ourselves. I have had many guides myself. If you would like empowering support to develop a deeper connection with your inner children (hint: there are more than one ;) ) I would love to chat. You can schedule a discovery consultation with me HERE to discuss further and if we both agree we are a strong match, we’ll plan for some deeply healing 1:1 work together.
In the meantime, tend to this loving flame. Connecting to ourselves in this way is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.
My writings and teachings may not be replicated or reproduced in any way without written permission. Thank you for honoring my work.