Are you sure you are adulting? You might be surprised...
I would say many of us are not at times. Unaware, we sometimes walk around as children interacting with the world pretending to be adults. Like a game of dress up. Except, as kids we know we are playing a game and as adults, we’ve forgotten.
We all do it. In fact, it's part of the design of awakening.
Have you ever felt in retrospect or in the moment that your reaction was greater than the situation you were facing? Like perhaps you were making things a “bigger deal” than they are, but you can’t quite figure out why? Because both the recognition that you “overreacted” and the truth of the original feeling BOTH feel right?
Welcome to the world of the inner child.
What is the inner child?
Big sweeping, stewing, and seething feelings like anger, guilt, sadness, and resentment can usually be traced back to our inner child.
Buried deep in our subconscious are the moments in our childhood where our needs are not met and a wounding comes in. These wounds are singular moments that impacted us more than we thought. For example, the time you were left out of the playground game in elementary school by the girls you thought were your friends. Or the moment your exhausted father unloaded his personal stress he was carrying onto you and you had no idea what to do because you were...seven. Or the way other kids told you that you had funny teeth.
These wounds can also be born from traumatic incidents or chronic trauma where we didn’t have the skills or space to process the big inner experiences healthily. For example, events of wounding like physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse. And so in an act of protection, our system buries these experiences in our body and mind for processing later.
In these moments where our wounding comes in as children we often feel out of control, powerless, unseen, misunderstood, and most of all...unloved.
What I was most struck by when I started my client work more than five years ago was the number of clients that would have a moment from childhood pop up for processing in our work together and their response was: “Wow...I completely forgot about that…” or “I was sure I was finished with this…” Regardless of the response one common factor connected every experience...the element of surprise.
These unhealed wounds, moments of unprocessed emotions hidden deep in the crevices of our mind and our body, guide more moments in our life than we are aware of.
And that is surprising when we discover it! A well-played program, they autopilot guide our perceptions, behaviors, and experiences when a moment that feels, appears, and seems identical to that wounding moment arises in the present. Like a perfect symphony we play the song we know or have been hiding from ourselves for so long.
How the Inner Child Goes Unnoticed
When the inner child appears, we often do not notice. We just recognize that we are feeling very reactive, triggered, agitated, saddened, consumed with anger or frustration, shut down, and often cannot see much past this big feeling. In that singular moment, the feeling and the story that supports it is entirely 100% true and fused together.
Here’s where things get tricky. The feeling and the story is BOTH true and untrue. The feeling and story that the inner child is experiencing in that frozen moment in time at for example, 7 years old, is a valid experience calling our attention for processing. Processing for us to finally acknowledge the pain, to recognize the unmet need, to release the energy that’s been trapped in our body, and most of all...to step in as the adult and let the child in us no longer have to lead. This is the true part.
The untrue part is that we are NOT in fact 7 years old in that same situation in this very present moment. We have growth up. At least physically. And the adult is experiencing a very different scenario that my have familiar patterns that trigger the truth, but different factors that make up the “untrue” part.
Mistakenly, when people start to work with mindfulness practices they may stop at simply witnessing the feeling. The practice goes something like this...notice the big feelings, take space from them, recognize they are perhaps not fully true, and then let them go. This approach works if we are not touching into a deep wounding that wants our attention. However...if this feeling continues to come up or won’t “let go,” we’re asked to not discard the feelings and dive deeper.
When we try to force ourselves to “let go” without acknowledging and working with the inner child, we unintentionally become the one re-wounding our very own selves.
This is extremely painful because once again...the inner child inside of you goes unrecognized and unacknowledged. While we may reduce the reactivity in our minds with a practice of letting go, we are only compounding the frustration, sadness, or anger underneath the surface if we are actually experiencing a deeper wounding. Instead, we are asked to BOTH recognize the untrue AND the true elements in a single moment of trigger to both act as the adult and heal the inner wounding.
Stay tuned for my next blog about how to start healing our inner child. For now, let’s get even more clear on the signs that our inner child is present. Don’t miss it ! Get it straight in your inbox plus a free lesson on intuition in your inbox HERE.
Here are 5 Signs Your Inner Child Is Present:
Your emotional response is greater than the present moment circumstances. You may recognize this in the moment as you feel your insides boiling from your partner forgetting to put the laundry in the drier again. Or you discover your disproportionate response in retrospect when you recognize you said some very painful things to someone you love and didn’t mean or completely shut down and made yourself emotionally unavailable when your loved one needed you the most.
You feel big emotions and cannot locate the “why.” This is a big one. Any time I feel very big emotions and for the life of me in the moment I can’t really find or explain the “why,” I know my inner child has taken the wheel of my life and is somewhere in the mix.
You have a strong reaction in your body and are unclear what you “feel.” Reactions in our body can look like your heart racing and sweaty palms in an otherwise everyday conversation with your coworker. Or a tightening in your gut when your friend shares about their upcoming weekend plans. In the moment, the conversation may seem nothing out of the ordinary, but your body is telling you something is up.
You are spinning in a story that sounds pretty damn convincing about what is happening “to you.” Any time I feel like I have a solid story on lock down about what is happening “to me” I know that my inner child is feeling really hurt and wanting my attention. These stories usually are pretty black and white clear, tied up with a pretty bow, and seem obvious and invincible.
You are feeling an ends-of-the-extreme reaction to your personal power by feeling righteous or worthless. When we relate to our personal power in an unhealthy way we can be sure that the inner child is somewhere in the background or even at the forefront of our experience. This includes moments where we are on our soapbox preaching how “right” we are and powering over another person in an interaction or, a moment where we feel absolutely worthless like the times where we are steeped in our guilt stories about how horrible of a person we are and shrinking in our power in interactions with others, swimming in our internal story, and disconnected from the person in front of us.
Next time I’ll share a daily practice to support you to start healing your inner child. In the meantime, start noticing when these signs are present and get curious about the big feelings and sensations arising. Please do not judge yourself. ALL of us do this. Instead, I invite you to be grateful that you are able to see what previously was unconscious to you. YAY! This is huge. Be open to the idea that perhaps the child inside of you has stepped forward in these moments and the adult has left the room. Notice how often the child leads your life and how often the adult is guiding.
PS. Are you ready to start healing the little one's inside of you? I'd love to chat! I empower clients to heal their inner little ones and create greater space for their Intuition. This inner work is LIFE CHANGING and has resulted in:
Clients finally meeting their life partner, getting married, having children, buying houses, uncovering their life purpose, and moving across the world to start a new dream!
In other words, when we address the inner child inside of us, amazing abundance is able to come into our life! I dare say miracles can happen. Schedule a free 30 minute discovery session to chat further HERE.