A person’s inner child is the child someone once was, both their positive and negative characteristics.
So it is someone’s child-like ability for positive traits such as excitement, elation, innocence, wonder, sensitivity and playfulness. However it is also pain, fears, resentments, fury, anger, frustrations, exasperation and any unresolved traumas.
A person’s inner child frequently carries on keeping these traumatic wounds inside. If they stay unresolved, as with a physical wound left untreated, it can become increasingly painful.
In adulthood this leads to many problems and it’s behind a lot of types of mental health illnesses. These include alcoholism, other addictions, anxiety, stress and depression.
It was psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875–1961) who first spoke about how everyone has a childlike side.
Then in the 1980s mental health expert Dr Charles Whitfield introduced the concept that when something traumatic occurs in childhood, a person’s true self can be instinctively hidden away.
In its place comes a false self. This can mean self-centered behaviors as a coping mechanism.
It can be thought of as a survival technique coming to the front of someone’s existence. It is similar to when people are under attack in any situation.
The child within
In 1987, Dr Whitfield had a book published called Healing The Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. It introduced many people to the concept of the inner child.
Then the following year Healing The Shame That Binds You by counselor John Bradshaw (1933-2016) was published. It is still considered to be one of the best books on recovery.
A couple of years afterwards John Bradshaw’s Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child further increased the general understanding of how childhood trauma is often behind what people consider to be someone’s character traits.
In fact they are not their true character traits at all. They are that person’s self-defense weapons, their methods for coping with unresolved childhood issues.
“When the family environment is filled with violence (chemical, emotional, physical, or sexual), the child must focus solely on the outside,” John Bradshaw wrote in Homecoming. “Over time he loses the ability to generate self-esteem from within.
“Without a healthy inner life, one is exiled to trying to find fulfillment on the outside. This is codependence, and it is a symptom of a wounded inner child. Codependent behavior indicates that the person’s childhood needs were unmet, and therefore he cannot know who he is.”
If it’s hysterical it’s historical
Trauma during childhood can hinder or halt someone’s emotional growth. They can stop growing emotionally; they can stop growing up.
As a child confronted with trauma, someone may have instinctively hidden their real self as best they could to protect it. It is the vulnerable little boy or girl trying to get out of the danger.
Their inner child is in a safe hiding place. Yet sometimes this inner child is hidden away so well they are never seen again…
When they reach adulthood this shapes feelings and subsequent behaviors. For example, a successful businesswoman heads a team of 100 people in the property world, many of them are men.
Yet in her marriage, she cannot seem to say anything to her husband when he is disrespectful and even aggressive to her, as he frequently is.
It reminds her of how her father used to behave towards her. It recreates extremely uncomfortable feelings that she has never dealt with and so she remains silent as she always used to in order to continue protecting the vulnerable child within.
On her own she is depressed and often in tears about this. In fact she sobs uncontrollably like a small frightened girl.
There’s an expression that says: if it’s hysterical it’s historical. It needs to be resolved.
Many people live their entire lives like this. Their inner child has never been found let alone healed.
Recognizing a wounded inner child
There are some things to be aware of to see if someone might have a wounded inner child.
- They feel constantly insufficient.
- They always try to say what they think people want to hear: as a people-pleaser.
- There are high levels of anxiety if stepping outside of their comfort zone.
- They always feel deep inside as though something is wrong with them.
- They carry an increasing number of resentments and cannot seem to let any of them go.
- They are terrified of being abandoned.
- There are definite trust issues.
- Their critical self-sabotaging voice rarely stops finding fault and worst-case scenarios.
- They have a weak sense of self, of who they truly are. Or no sense at all.
- They’re a perfectionist.
- They find it extremely difficult to forgive themselves for any mistakes they make.
How to heal the inner child
Successful methods include writing a letter to the inner child, journaling, becoming aware of the inner critic, writing positive affirmations, grieving ungrieved traumas and losses, and learning to parent oneself. One-to-one therapy really helps with all of this.
Finding the inner child usually brings up a great deal of emotions. It often means recalling uncomfortable memories and looking at emotional scars inside that were formed years ago.
Recovering and healing the inner child certainly takes the help of a professional who fully understands all of this. A lot of recovery is about finding that inner child, reassuring and saving them – and then bringing them into the adult version of the person.
An inner peace never previously known results for the majority of people who heal their inner child. Our expert team has years of experience in treating every mental health problem.
Our campus right next to our stunning tranquil lake is in the ideal natural setting to enhance well-being and recovery. We offer everyone who stays with us completely personalized proven successful treatments.
As a family-run recovery center you can be assured of the utmost amount of personal care. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you or someone you love.
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