5 Ways to Heal a Wounded Inner Child
Like most of us, you may be living with emotional wounds rooted deep in your past. While you’re probably aware of the trauma caused by events, such as loss, sickness, accidents, or violence, you may be unaware of how smaller, less-memorable events are affecting you.
Experiences like being excluded from sleepovers, being passed over for a high school drama role, not being named captain of the team even though your leadership was recognized, or having nowhere to sit in the cafeteria.
These are painful memories we often push down, convincing ourselves it’s silly to hold on to them after all these years. Still, each experience contributes to a collective energy that makes up what we call the inner child.
Children internalize events that make them feel unsafe and insecure. They often believe the absence of safety, nurturance, and security is somehow their fault. These erroneous beliefs can give way to responses such as rebellion, anxiety, insecurity, or self-sabotage. Loneliness, destructive behaviors, hyper-reactivity, poor social skills, self-negation, and more, dog the footsteps of the wounded adult.
When a wounded inner child makes you believe you’re unlovable, unworthy, or somehow at fault, it creates guilt, shame, and lack of self-worth that can further weigh you down.
For example, a child whose primary caregiver was emotionally absent may grow into an adult who dissociates from emotional contact, unable to nurture themselves or others. Memories of an unkind school teacher may manifest as an adult who resents or fears authority figures and societal rules. To this end, we must heal the inner child to shift unwanted recurring patterns in our lives. Without this healing, there can be no transformation.
This is why psychologists and spiritual healers place such a strong emphasis on healing the inner child. When you feel old wounds drowning out your authentic self, use these tools to help heal your inner child.
Breathe in the Here and Now
Children often express their feelings and communicate their needs through body language; this is also true for the inner child. Imagine your inner child living a life trapped inside the memories of the past — it’s through this filter that it reacts to the present.
To the inner child, the boss at work wears the face of the insensitive headmaster; the kind friend of today is made to carry the weight of the bullies of yesterday, and the loving partner has morphed into the harsh parent.
But luckily, there are simple practices to help bring the inner child out of the past: breathwork, meditation, and mindfulness. Search online for guided meditations and pranayama geared toward healing your inner child, and practice these every day.
Take Care of Yourself Like You Would A Child
As a kid growing up, you were unable to nurture yourself. You depended on the outside world to fill that need. As an adult, you have everything you require to live a life where self-care and self-nurturance are prioritized.
Dedicate time to taking care of yourself, even for just a few hours each week. Take a walk, do a craft, dance in your kitchen. Do something to enliven your spirit and excite your inner child. Duty to others and your work remains inauthentic when you don’t fulfill your duty to yourself.
Tap Into the Power of Your Imagination
Inner child wounds create heavy and dark energy in the subconscious — but this burdensome energy can be lightened with the simple use of the imagination. Imagine yourself as a young, delighted child for a few minutes a day. Let the imagination take over in every way; become the child completely.
See yourself in a park, on a beach, with a pet, with your favorite rock collection — whatever excites you. The child in your imagined reality should be filled with a sense of fun, safety, and love. When you do this every day, the subconscious can let go of some of the negative energies of the past.
Keep a Journal
Talk to your inner child through a daily journal. Here is one example:
Dearest Inner Child,
How have you been? Today was not a great day for me. I had a huge falling out with _______, and you know how deeply I care about them. After that, I felt anxious all day. I know you have been, too. Both of us remember how devastated we were when_______ stopped talking to us those many, many years ago. It felt liberating to visualize and connect with you tonight and let the anxiety go. You reminded me of the many wonderful friends that I made after _______ left, and I thank you for that. You also gave me the courage to explain to _______ why I reacted the way I did today.
Inner child, you are a wonderful friend. Each day I connect with you, I can feel how deeply you and I are healing together. Love you — big hug.
By keeping the communication open with our inner child, we pave the way for healing.
Cultivate a Hobby
When you were a child, did you spend your free time playing or making arts and crafts and cultivating your hobbies? We need these experiences in our adult life, too. Making time for hobbies helps us learn new things and discover new people who share the same passion.
This introduces excitement and stimulation in your life, fostering healthy motivation in other areas. All in all, it’s a great feel-good stimulus and the perfect catalyst for heightened creativity, which delights the inner child.
Try this RoundGlass audio class, Unfold and Honor Your Grief, by mindfulness teacher Rachael Kable.