The Wounded Inner Child
The inner child as I shared in the first part of the inner child blog, is a part that lives within your psyche; it lives within you. The inner child is the part of you that holds or carries your innocence, creativity, and wonder of life. It doesn’t matter what age you are it is always with you from age 18 – 100! We carry many expressions of the inner child. Carl Jung, a psychotherapist and psychologist who lived in the early 20th century, called this energy in our psyche archetypes; the inner child is one of the primary archetypes that he discovered. We engage with our inner child on a daily basis.
The inner child is an important part of us to stay connected to, as it helps us to feel inspired, creative, joyful, playful, excited, and inspired throughout our lives. We can open up to our authentic self by staying connected to our inner child. We need to stay attuned, sensitively aware of this part of us what it needs, feels, and how this part expresses itself uniquely through us.
However, when we have experienced trauma in our lives, emotional, mental, or physical neglect, or abuse of any type, the energy of the inner child can get stuck, blocked, or imprisoned in a myriad of ways within us. If you have ever experienced traumatic experiences that went unexpressed or processed with someone in your life, we experience the inner child in unhealthy ways. If you have ever experienced trauma as a child intentionally or unintentionally, here are some ways you may continue to feel in your relationships with others or about yourself:
- Shameful of who you are
- Unlovable or unworthy
- Fearful about the world
- Mistrust about other people
- Unintelligent or ungifted
When we are children and we experience situations that are traumatic whether they happen once or for longer periods of time or stay active over time, the trauma becomes locked in our sensitive nervous systems, frozen inside. As we continue through life, we can become unaware of how it is affecting our lives day to day hidden in our unconscious. We don’t realize how holding these experiences/events keeps our inner child from showing up free and alive, creative, and exploring life in a healthy way. What we end up feeling or experiencing is lethargic, bored, unhappy, and empty inside.
These are just 10 signs you know your inner child is wounded:
- You’ve always felt deep down inside there is something is really wrong with you.
- You experience an anxiety when you want to begin something new.
- Feeling inadequate and “not good enough”.
- Constantly driven to always get A+ or consider myself an over achiever.
- Afraid to express strong emotions like sadness or anger.
- Being rigid or a perfectionist.
- Constantly criticizing yourself as inadequate or unworthy.
- Always feeling more responsible for others than yourself.
- You have an addiction or addicted to something.
- Not feeling close to your mother and father.
If you find that you are struggling with some of these issues meeting with a mental health professional can really support your work to healing the inner child. The inner child within is a very important part of you that when healed frees up a wealth of energy that you didn’t know was inside waiting to be uncovered and expressed. However, it takes time. You need to have patience, creating safety for that part of you and have supportive people to talk to. You also need find a mental health professional that you feel safe with when working to open up and heal this part within. Safety is crucial to opening and healing your inner child.
As a holistic therapist, I work with healing the inner child through the use of art and meditation. One way you can begin to create healing for your inner child is to create art. You can use easy to color mandalas, children’s coloring books, drawing pictures, working with clay, crafting, and painting. Art is a healing modality and a fun way to connect with your inner child and open the door to communicating with this part of you. I begin with a guided meditation and then provide acrylics and water colors to create on canvas or mixed media paper. When working with art in therapy it is never about having talent or skills but allowing yourself to just free flow. Allowing what needs to show up to be on your canvas. When we paint in this way, over time you can begin to notice what is showing up for you: words, symbols, memories, body sensations.
Guided meditations support the work for the inner child to safely and compassionately open up to share, release, heal, and transform the trauma pain, memories, and beliefs held within our bodies and mind. I also like to support individuals with the belief and understanding that we all have a spiritual connection that supports us with higher guidance, wisdom, safety, and protection as we move through our meditation and art experience. The use of other modalities such as symbols we sometimes instill into our paintings are poems, prayers, affirmations, or spiritual images that have meaning for you to work with and include into your art.