For most people, when they think back to their childhood years, there’s this memory of seemingly care free days. Days that consisted of play, fun and the only worry was being heard and loved. For others, this may not have been the case. If the basic needs of love, safety and belonging were not met as a child, they can result in suppressed emotions as an adult.
As an adult we may subconsciously react to people or life in unhealthy ways. This is where working on your “inner child” becomes so valuable. The term, “inner child” reflects the child we once were in both her “positive” and “negative” aspects in a figurative sense. For some people, that child with in themselves never really grew up. Being able to identify and validate needs that weren’t met can allow for optimal healing and growth. After all, the basic human need is to feel loved and accepted.
Remember as a child when your parents would tell you, “If you’re good, I will buy you a toy?” Or “If you stop crying, I’ll buy you an ice cream?” The repressed emotions refer to all of the things you were taught as a child not to feel if you wanted to receive love. The result: You were only offered love if you obeyed. Let that sink in for a moment.....Ahhhh. Can you think of ways we reward ourselves as adults for being “good?” Often times we are so hard on ourselves and we speak negatively when we feel like we are not good enough. Ask yourself if you would speak to your inner child like that or even your own child.
If you were a child who felt hurt, abandoned or neglected, I invite you to do some “inner child” work to help bring those emotions to surface. Hiding pain doesn’t heal, it only intensifies as an adult and can create struggles in your relationships with others and yourself. Living with shame as an adult can leave you feeling like you have to hide your experience in order to survive.
Here are some ways to connect with your inner child:
1. Talk to her/him. Say nurturing things like, “I love you” or “It’s going to be OK.”
2. Give her/him a great BIG hug!
3. Write a letter
4. Look at old photos
5. Do the things you used to enjoy as a kid like, roller skating, swinging on a swing, riding a bike.
6. Connect with your children
7. Meditate and visualize
Bringing up past emotions can be scary and can feel overwhelming. It may feel intense at first. Go slow and be gentle with yourself. It’s a great way to tear down emotional walls and heal from past experiences. Let go....Breathe....And welcome in growth and fresh new possibility.