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Reparenting the Self: The Power of Inner Child Healing

reparenting the inner child

Every individual carries conscious and unconscious memories from their earliest days to the present. While growing up, it is unlikely to get all emotional needs met; therefore, the child may compensate some challenges with immature cognitive and emotional abilities. Fortunately, not all unmet needs result in childhood trauma, however, some do.

The concept of reparenting yourself may seem unusual, but if you are struggling with past trauma, you are the best equipped to delve into your untold secrets and unmet needs and provide comfort.

Challenges in Meeting Childhood Emotions

Personal, emotional, environmental and social factors contribute to the challenge caregivers face in meeting the child's emotional needs..

Firstly, emotions are complex and diverse, making it nearly impossible for caregivers to address every aspect effectively. Emotions range from basic needs like love and security to validation and empathy.

Secondly, caregivers have limitations influenced by their own life experiences, emotional capacities, and external stressors. These factors can hinder their ability to meet a child's emotional needs fully. Caregivers also might unintentionally project their unresolved issues onto the child or struggle with their own emotional challenges, limiting their ability to provide comprehensive support.

Additionally, life can present unpredictable challenges like financial instability, health crises, or family disruptions. These challenges can shift caregivers' attention and resources away from meeting a child's emotional needs, complicating the process further, resulting in the child attempt to cope with immature cognitive and emotional abilities to overcome their challenges.

child playing with water

When you feel a child inside of you springing to life,

that’s how you know you’re where you should be.

C. JoyBell C.

Understanding the Origins of Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma may arise from diverse challenges, including abandonment, neglect, abuse, financial or health difficulties. Additionally, dismissed feelings, bullying, and unresolved grief can contribute to childhood trauma. Seemingly harmless events that a child perceives as daunting can also be sources of childhood trauma.

Unrealistic expectations from caregivers or social environment can lead to hiding one's authentic vulnerable self and adopting behaviours to please others.

Coping mechanisms developed during childhood are set in place by the child to soothe their anxiety, but when the child becomes an adult, the inadequate coping mechanism creates harmful ways of reproducing unhealthy scenarios or has long-term emotional consequences. The impact of childhood trauma may not be immediately recognisable and manifests later in life through unhealthy life patterns, distorted perceptions, or intense reactions to trivial situations.

Beyond the Surface: Recognising the Wound

When the inner child is wounded, instances of happiness, freedom, and creativity may still be present, but they often carry an unsettling, unreal, or daunting underlying feeling. These moments play a vital role in identifying and addressing childhood trauma. Paying attention to feelings of inauthenticity, the struggle to experience inner joy and relaxation simultaneously, or the tendency to laugh along without genuine connection to the moment, becomes essential. Reparenting oneself becomes crucial when persistent negativity, numbness, or emotional roller coasters cannot be explained.

Identifying the wounded inner child involves recognising the hurt causing unhelpful behaviours in the present, such as the constant feeling that something is wrong, experiencing deep distrust, people-pleasing, extreme rebelliousness, avoidance of conflicts, hoarding, possessiveness, states of anxiety, fear of abandonment, high achievement, procrastination, and body shame.

parent and child on the beach

I’m not so sure that the adult within me teaches the child within me.

Rather, I think that the child does most of the educating.

Craig D. Lounsbrough

Reparenting the Wounded Inner Child

Healing childhood trauma requires establishing a connection with your inner child, communicating with through visualisation, and nurturing the inner child's needs. This process requires time to implement a more positive perception of the self by developing a loving presence through self-awareness and self-compassion

Healing childhood trauma involves:

  • Acknowledging the wounded inner child.

  • Listening to its messages.

  • Becoming the loving parent it needs.

Inner child work involves addressing unmet needs of physical safety, love, acceptance, and belonging. The reparenting process focuses on dealing with suppressed feelings and reclaiming the inner child's positive qualities. Seeking professional help is essential when engaging in inner child work to address trauma. Therapists or counsellors specialising in trauma-focused therapies provide a safe and structured environment. They assist individuals in exploring suppressed memories, processing emotions, and developing healthier coping mechanisms, allowing individuals to reclaim their inner child and cultivate resilience for a more empowered present and future.

touching the surface

Let us listen to the needs of our inner child

that is being tamed and imprisoned by the rules of a grown-up world.

Erik Pevernagi

Final Thoughts

Reparenting one's inner child involves acknowledging the presence of a young emotional version of oneself. The inner child carries unimaginable pain that requires love and attention. This process includes developing new skills such as paying attention to one's feelings, dedicating time to oneself, setting boundaries, and practising self-care.

When unpleasant feelings rule your day for too long, it’s time to reach out to someone you trust. You don't have to face everything alone; contact a helpline, a support group, or a professional. Your GP or a counsellor can make a difference in your wellbeing. 

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