The idea of reparenting yourself can sound weird, but who else is in a better position to explore your untold wishes and unmet needs and finally find some comfort?
At any given time, we’re carrying conscious and unconscious memories
from our youngest self to the present.
It is unlikely to meet all emotional needs while growing up; therefore, we overcame some of our challenges with immature cognitive and emotional ability. Fortunately, not all unmet needs result in childhood trauma.
What are the consequences of childhood trauma?
We often cannot recognise childhood trauma until later in life. For example, we may initially not notice patterns, distorted perceptions, or a display of too intense reactions. Childhood trauma can arise from the most diverse situations, abandonment, neglect, abuse, financial or health challenges within the family, but also dismissed feelings, bullying, unresolved grief and others. During our childhood, we overcome emotional challenges by using coping mechanisms, which are the easiest way to soothe ourselves and reduce the anxiety we feel at that stage of life. Unfortunately, our coping mechanisms often work initially well but have consequences in the long run.
Your inner child is waiting to get what is missing. All you have to do is listen.
What does reparent your inner child mean?
Reparenting your inner child means acknowledging that you host a young emotional version of yourself. This is your inner child, and it is hurt. Now it needs the love and attention missed in the past. Reparenting yourself involves learning new skills such as:
paying attention to your feelings
dedicating time to yourself and to what is important for you
learning to set up boundaries
start to set focus on yourself and practise self-care (no, it’s not selfish)
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.
How do I know if I have a wounded inner child?
People with a wounded inner child react in different and often conflicting ways:
Believe that there is something wrong with them
Experience a deep distrust of anyone
Be people-pleaser and feel guilty when they try to set boundaries
Be rebels and feel alive only when in conflict with someone
Avoid conflicts at all costs
Be very possessive about dear ones
Experience often states of anxieties for no significant reasons
Experience a deep fear of abandonment
Be high achievers
Feel not allowed to express emotions and feelings
Feel ashamed of their body
When your inner child is hurt, you can still experience happiness, freedom and creativity; however, the times you can fully access these are rare and frequently are undermined by an underlying feeling of not deservingness or that something will go wrong.
Reparenting yourself becomes critical when you cannot explain persistent underlying negative feelings or often live on emotional roller coasters.
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
What Is Inner Child Work?
As children, our basic needs are physical safety, love, a sense of acceptance and belonging. When these have not been met, your inner child needs to be allowed to process its painful experiences, be comforted, and once it feels safe enough, it’ll feel free to express itself. The inner child often gets activated when you face experiences that, on some levels, reminds you of events or feelings related to traumatic childhood events. Processing this experience with your adult cognitive and emotional ability is crucial. There are two aspects of reparenting your inner child:
Reclaiming its positive qualities
dealing with its suppressed feelings.
However, dealing with challenging memories can feel overwhelming; therefore, inner child work should preferably be done with a professional.
How does childhood trauma happen?
Having a happy childhood doesn’t necessarily protect you from childhood trauma, as harmless events can feel daunting to a child’s eyes.
Being told to refrain from crying, expressing anger or sadness, and that only positive emotions and behaviour are acceptable can be very damaging. The expectation of being strong and positive all the time is how hiding part of your authentic self and starting pleasing others is learned.
Once these unhelpful learned behaviours are integrated, you become more distant from your true self and adapt to what others want you to be. From the outside, none will realise the damages caused. However, the wounded child inside you will keep trying to surface and be part of your life over the following years. If not acknowledged, it will get angry and push you into self-sabotaging your happiness without even being aware of it. Its self-damaging behaviour won’t change until you address the problem.
Let us listen to the needs of our inner child
that is being tamed and imprisoned by the rules of a grown-up world.
Healing Your Childhood Trauma
There are three main steps you need to take:
First, acknowledge your wounded inner child’s existence.
Then, start to listen to what your inner child has tried telling you for years.
Finally, begin to be the loving parent your inner child needs.
Step 1: Connect
The first step is relatively easy, gather memories of yourself as a child and write them down. Write about feelings, thoughts, positive memories, fears. Try to remind what your favourite toys were, who you liked to be with, what you enjoyed and whatnot. Collect some childhood pictures, notice details and begin to visualise yourself. If possible, ask others about their memories of you as a child.
Step 2: Communicate
Our busy lives do not allow us much time to check in with ourselves about current needs; therefore, we overlook any noticeable hints from our inner child entirely. It’s time to change this.
Allocate some time daily, sit in a quiet, comfortable room, and close your eyes. Now try to visualise yourself as a child. It might be easier if you remind a specific situation. Next, ask yourself questions about that situation and observe.
How does the child in front of you feel?
What does it say they need?
What can you say or do to support that child now?
Take your time, do not try to control the situation and observe its and your feelings. The more often you try, the easier it will become to maintain the connection with your inner child and access it in the future.
Beautify your inner dialogue. Beautify your inner world
with love light and compassion. Life will be beautiful.”
Step 3: Nurture
Now you can move to the last step and give your inner child what it needs. Again, you can address these needs during your visualisation. Position your adult self as a parent, hold and nurture your child self in your arms, be loving toward this little being, send feelings of unconditional love and feelings of safety.
Shortly, unresolved childhood trauma arises from suppressed painful experiences. As a result, your inner child may sabotage your adult experience by trying to heal its unresolved issues with repeated unproductive responses. However, through dedication and consistent guidance, reparenting your inner child will open up opportunities for your healing journey. Your inner child has been waiting for years for you to embrace it lovingly. It’s time to attend to its needs and begin your healing journey now.
Connection, communication, nurture, providing a loving presence and self-compassion are all that is needed.
If you are trying to recover from highly traumatising experiences, or simply realise that this is not something you can easily manage on your own, do not push yourself and look for a professional.
Feel free to contact me with any further questions.