Healing Old Emotional Wounds: Embracing Your Inner Child
Did you know that your childhood never really ended? Yes, it is true! And even if your early years of life were not great, you can have a chance of a happily-ever after.
In this article, you will learn the different parts within yourself and discover how to heal old emotional wounds by connecting with your inner child.
The three voices within you
One of Dr. Freud’s mission was to explain why we have internal conflict within us. As such, Freud identified three internal voices or ego-states within us – called the Id, Super Ego and Ego. Freud also discussed other stuff like incestuous desire for ones parent, but I digress…
Anyway, Berne changed the names of the Id, Super Ego and Ego.
Freud’s Id, turned into the, “child.”
The Super Ego, was converted into the “parent.”
Lastly, the Ego, became the “adult.’
And for good measure, Berne tossed aside discussion of sexual tensions between child and adult and mostly focused on interactions between people. These actions are called transactions. Berne wanted to explain the behavior of others that do not make sense logically, but are rational and understandable on a psychological level.
Why is it important to know the voices of the child, parent or adult?
Great question! Each voice is a signal to you that something within you must change or you need to modify your involvement in a particular situation.
What does the voices of the child, parent and adult sound like?
Every day, your child, parent or adult is battling for attention, power and control.
Let’s think of one common scenario – You want to buy something expensive online. Read the dialog below:
Child: (Smiling wide and jumping for joy.) I want it! It looks so shiny and cool.
Parent: (Scoffing) Are we sure we can afford it?
Adult: (Cool headed and rational.) I just checked our credit card balance. We can afford it.
At the end, you purchase your desired product or service never realizing the inner tug of war that went on inside of your mind. Interactions like this happen hundreds of times each day. Next, let’s discuss the purpose of each voice.
What is the purpose of each voice in your mind?
Just like there is a good cop/ bad cop, there are shadow or dark sides to the child or parent. The reason is because they are based on messages you have received from your childhood, culture and others which created your life script.
Below is a brief summary of each role:
At best, your inner child is FUN, vivacious or playful. You need a healthy inner child to help you stay curious and explore new things. Your child is the adventurous explorer showing you the endless possibilities.
However, a distraught child is anything but curious. A damaged, wounded inner-child is anxious, afraid, timid and wants to hide or evade from helpful things or people.
At best, your nurturing parent is comforting, guiding and loving. He or she wants to guide, inspire and motivate you towards new and exciting challenges.
At worse, the critical parent is judgmental, critical and very controlling. They don’t want to change, even if your situation is painful and uncomfortable. This is why some of us stay stuck in toxic relationships with dangerous personalities.
The parent and child dialogs are based on old programming from early-childhood experiences. Some research says that even within utero, we may have picked up some temperaments based on how healthy our mother was during her pregnancy.
Think of the adult as your central processing central. It is present of the current environment and makes decisions based on the current surroundings. In order to have healthy communication with yourself and others, we must stay present in our adult ego-state.
Main points of the Child, Parent and Adult
All of our personalities, with some exceptions, are pretty well “cooked” by the age of three (3). The child and parent is our default way to connect with ourself and the world around us.
Think of your child and parents ego-states as an old record that plays when you and/or your environment press the right emotional buttons.
When we are trying to be perfect, it is because our adapted child ego-state learned from childhood that perfection was the best way to survive tense and uncomfortable situations. This behavior usually originated from critical and demanding parents who were subjected to some form of trauma and abuse themselves.
Perfectionism, a trauma-based response.
Perfectionism is a death trap. It sabotages you because your child ego-state is filled with complicated ideas or strategies. And when the work becomes complicated, you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where or how to start.
Behind the perfectionism lays deep insecurities from unresolved trauma.
But there is good news! The brain is plastic and can be healed from past traumatic events. It just takes work and support to resolve it.
The first step is identify ways you are still reacting based on past traumatic events. In the next section, we will talk about how to heal your inner child.
Heal your inner child
1. Acknowledge and validate your inner child
Recognize the pain, experiences, and emotions your inner child carries. Validate their feelings and accept their presence within you. This is where your inner child can connect with emotionally healthy people.
2. Create a safe space
Dedicate uninterrupted time to create a nurturing environment. This is where you can speak to your inner child without distractions or judgment. Choose exercises like meditation, journaling, or any self-care activity that helps you feel present and connected.
3. Listen and communicate
Practice active listening to your inner child’s needs and desires. They are here to help, not hurt you! Engage in a dialogue with them, either through writing or visualization, allowing them to express their emotions and share their experiences.
4. Provide reassurance and support
Offer reassurance, love, and compassion to your inner child. Don’t ignore feelings of anxiety, frustration or fear. It is a signal something is off and needs further examination. Let your inner child know that you will comfort him or her during the most challenging moments.
5. Reparent yourself
Act as a loving and nurturing parent to your inner child. This involves setting healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, and meeting your own emotional needs. Prioritize self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-love.
6. Release and heal past wounds
Explore any unresolved traumas or painful experiences from your childhood. As a trauma-informed professional, I can provide you guidance and support.
7. Practice forgiveness
Forgive yourself and others for any past hurts or mistakes. Understand that forgiveness is a process and may take time. Holding onto resentment or anger can hinder your inner child’s healing.
8. Engage in inner child activities
Reconnect with activities or hobbies that bring joy and playfulness into your life. Engaging in creative outlets, spending time in nature, or participating in activities you enjoyed as a child can help you tap into your inner child’s spirit.
Remember that healing your inner child is a gradual process that requires patience and self-compassion. Do not be shocked if some days are better than others. Keep working on your self-care routine and slowly, your inner child will be healthier and happier with each day.
Do you need more help? It’s essential to seek support from loved ones, trauma-informed therapist, or a life coach like myself if you find it challenging to navigate your restoration and recovery journey.
Dig deeper: Click here to listen to this podcast about healing the inner child or press the play button below.