By: Angela Smith
Therapist, The Refuge – a Healing Place
Inner Child therapy is vital in understanding how we have become who we are. The first thing I tell anyone approaching inner child work, is that it is NOT about blaming, it is about understanding. Our experiences in childhood have an impact on who we become as adults and how we learn to approach relationships. Our own security is tied into how safe we felt as a child and what we experienced in the two most important relationships we will have, our parents.
A child learns by watching behaviors, but also with the very connection we have with the most important people in our lives. So many clients that come to me with unresolved childhood trauma express feeling extremely lonely at their core. Many struggle understanding truly who they are and how to feel like a whole person that is valued and important. Exploring our inner child It is a vital part of healing from the inside out.
As a child we are not supposed to be responsible for the adults around us, a child should be needy, dependent, and curious about their life and their surroundings, growing to learn a balance of independence, and self-assuredness in who they are. A child should be experiencing safeness, security, and validation to excel emotionally. When that is interrupted or non-existent, a child can grow up to experience deep insecurities, seeking validation from everyone but themselves, and spend a lifetime of looking for happiness outside of themselves from other people. Many have come to believe that they were unlovable and must have been a bad child, and develop ways to please those around them, to “makeup” for their unworthiness. Falling into a pattern of seeking perfection and developing major codependent patterns just seeking acceptance on some level.
Watching clients explore their inner child for the first time is one of the most amazing experiences to witness and be part of. I am always in awe as I watch the surprise in the clients face, the tears flowing down their cheeks as the meet their inner child for the first time in guided imagery. They finally see themselves in that most innocent of forms, realizing this small child just wanted to feel loved and accepted by those they looked up to and were connected with. So many expressions as I watch client’s experience shock as they realize their inner child’s vulnerability and just how long they have hid this pain from the world and tried to protect themselves by not allowing this vulnerable child to be revealed. As they explore their inner child they become painfully aware just how much that part of who they are has so much to say and to heal from.
I believe our inner child is connected to our core. Think about the last time you watched or interacted with a young child. What you felt when you saw them play and share their wonderful truths, the wariness that feels you is healing and uplifting. Who does not smile while watching a child run free and laugh with such jubilance. We all need to preserve this part of us, to connect, nurture and love that child. Teach that child his or her worth, to shout to the world that you are loved, you are special and you deserve to experience emotional freedom. We cannot change how we were raised, who are parents were, however we can learn how to allow love and healing to occur deep within ourselves to the very core. Then possibly for the first time we can truly understand, discover and come to love all of us, to the very core.