You’re a smart, smart and well-educated person, right? So why is it you keep making the same poor choices over and over again? Why do relationships in your life suffer because of poor communication? Why do you sometimes feel as though you have no control in your life? It could be because your inner child is in the driver’s seat, and if you’ve ever seen a six-year-old drive, well, that says it all.
Our inner child is a part of us – actually it is us at one point in our life. But even though we grow up physically, a part of us still remains that child. This can be good in terms of play, fun, and just looking at life with the wonder of a child, but when our little inner child is in the driver’s seat making life decisions that children have no business making, that’s a whole other story.
Fear, anger, rage and jealousy are just a few of the simple ways our inner child can sabotage us without meaning to. Addiction and other dangerous behaviors are some of the more serious issues attributed to allowing the inner child to make adult decisions. Once you can identify whether or not your inner child is in charge, you can begin to change the behavior and patterns that are keeping you from creating the life and relationships you want and deserve.
Say These 7 Things to Heal and Nurture Your Inner Child
(By Lucy Chen )
1. I love you
As children, a lot of us believed that we needed to accomplish goals—get good grades, make the team, fill our older siblings’ footsteps—to be lovable.
We may not have had parents who told us we deserved love, no matter what we achieved. Some of us may have had parents who considered showing love and tenderness to be a sign of weakness. But we can tell ourselves that we are loveable now.
Say it whenever you see yourself in the mirror. Say it in any random moments. Love is the key to healing, so give it to yourself.
2. I hear you
Oftentimes when we feel hurt, we push down our feelings and try to act strong. For a lot of us, this stems from childhood, when we frequently heard, “Quit your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”
But those feelings don’t just go away. They fester inside of us, affecting the choices we make as adults until we make the conscious effort to hear them.
I never acknowledged that I felt abandoned when my mum left, but I did, and I carried that into my adult relationships. To heal, I had to acknowledge how her leaving affected me. I had to give a voice to all the pain I stuffed down back then.
Instead of suppressing the voice of your inner child, say, “I hear you. We’ll work through it. It’s going to be okay.”
3. You didn’t deserve this
As children, many of us assumed that we deserved to be abused, shamed, or abandoned. We told ourselves that we were a bad kid, that we did something wrong.
But that’s simply not true. In many cases, the people who wounded us simply didn’t know any other way. Perhaps my mum was beaten as a child, so it was the only way she knew how to parent her daughter.
A child is innocent and pure. A child does not deserve to be abused, shamed, or abandoned. It’s not the child’s fault, and though we may not have had the capacity to understand this then, now, as adults, we do.
4. I’m sorry
I’ve always been an overachiever. I considered slowing down a sign of weakness.
Not too long ago, I was constantly stressed about not doing enough. I couldn’t enjoy time with my kids because I’d be thinking about work.
One day it dawned on me that since I was a child I’d been pushing myself too hard. I never cut myself any slack. I would criticize myself if I simply wanted to rest. So I told my inner child I was sorry.
She didn’t deserve to be pushed so hard, and I don’t deserve it now as an adult either.
I’ve since allowed myself a lot more downtime, and my relationships with my loved ones have improved as a result.
5. I forgive you
One of the quickest ways to destroy ourselves is to hold on to shame and regret.
The first night my mum returned home when I was fourteen, she asked to sleep with me. We only had two beds at that time, one for me and one for my dad. I couldn’t fall asleep, and I kept rolling around. Then all of a sudden, my mum blurted out, “Stop moving, you *sshole!”
The next day, I put a sign on my door that read “No Unauthorized Entry” to prevent her from coming in. My mum left again. Then, a few days after, my dad told me that they were getting a divorce (after being separated for eight years).
I thought it was my fault. Why did I have to roll around and so childishly put up a sign?
But now I know that their divorce wasn’t my fault. And I forgive myself for anything I could have done better. I was only a kid, and like everyone, I was and am human and imperfect.
6. Thank you
Thank your inner child for never giving up, for getting through the tough moments in life together with you with strength and perseverance.
Thank your inner child for trying to protect you, even if her way was holding on to painful memories.
Your inner child doesn’t deserve your judgment. S/he deserves your gratitude and respect.
7. You did your best
As a child, I always tried to outperform, to overachieve, to meet someone else’s standard, to be “perfect.”
I was always demanding and cruel to myself, and no matter how well I did, I never felt it was good enough.
But I did the best I could at the time, and you did too. We’re still doing the best we can, and we deserve credit for that.
When we let go of perfection, the fear of failure recedes. Then we can allow ourselves to experiment and see how things unfold.
I started saying these things to my inner child as I was recovering from depression. They’ve helped me experience more love, joy, and peace. They’ve helped me become more confident and compassionate.
My social worker, who first came to work with me after a self-cutting incident, recently asked me how I got to be so content and happy.
It started from acknowledging, accepting, and beginning the ongoing process of re-parenting my inner child.
What is the one thing you most want to say to your inner child today?