If this is all new to you, you may be asking what does it mean to have a wounded inner child? Or why is it important to heal your inner child? Can’t we just leave the past in the past and move on with our lives, after all we survived right? I hope what I’m about to share opens your eyes to the inner child theory and why you need to start healing your inner child yesterday…
I worked with a lovely lady once who was wondering why she was still stuck in some negative patterns. It was clear that she had some unhealed childhood trauma. Naturally, I told her she needed to do some deep inner child healing to which she replied “I’ve done that!”. Surprised I said “Really?” She said “yes”, curious, I asked “what did you do?”, she replied, “I did a guided inner child healing meditation once”. I asked her if that was it and if it was just that once and she said “yes”. I had to hold myself back from laughing, not at her because she was dead serious (and so innocent, God bless her) but at the idea of it. If only it was that easy! With so many inner child healing meditations out there and people doing them, a good part of the world would be healed.
Doing an inner child healing meditation won’t heal you.
Inner child healing is really the bulk of the work I do with clients as I believe our negative patterns in adulthood, and all our limiting beliefs, stem from our childhood.
The irony is, I get so many clients initially come to me and say “I had a happy childhood” or “I don’t have any childhood trauma” but they suffer from all the classic symptoms (listed below).
I had a client tell me (finally after 3 months of coaching) that her mother used to beat her, call her names, abuse her in all sorts of ways including putting her siblings against one another and then looked at me straight in the eye and said: “but I know she loves me”. I’m sad to say this, but this is pure denial. This is the little hurt inner child in you not wanting to believe that ‘mummy doesn’t love me’ because that would break any child’s heart.
As a child, you don’t know any different when it comes to parenting… you have nothing to compare so you simply assume your parents are perfect because after all, they are looking after you, they are “adults”, they survived, they know better…
So inherently as children, we idealize our parents, they are like Gods to us. It’s natural that we want to protect and defend our parents and staying in denial allows us to keep them on THEIR pedestal to protect the inner child’s ideal parents’ fantasy.
Over the years of working with clients on inner child healing I’ve heard every excuse in the book such as:
“It wasn’t that bad”
“It didn’t happen that way”
“She/he didn’t mean it like that”
“It was for my own good”
“They did the best they could”
“They didn’t know any better”
“Maybe I’m just imagining things”
“They were only trying to help”
“He/she only did it because…”
“But they gave me everything (meaning materially)”
To start healing your inner child wounds you need to give up the fantasy that your parents are perfect and stop making excuses for their hurtful, unloving and often abusive behaviour.
When it comes to healing childhood traumas, I have found over and over that resistance is natural mainly because you were conditioned to resist (suppress and repress) your emotions. You were programmed not to become aware of the truth, of the emotional abuse and manipulation you were put through by your parents throughout your childhood – just like they were programmed to do the same. This is how generations of abuse get passed down.
You were programmed to overlook the contradictions and compartmentalization of your parent’s values and morals, and trained not to become aware of how you were emotionally manipulated by your parents.
Essentially, your will was broken by your parents and moulded to serve “their will” before you even realized you had a will.
Additionally, most children were punished either physically or emotionally through fear, shame and guilt for daring to point out the wrongdoings of their parents, for having needs, or for even speaking the truth. These emotions of fear, guilt and shame are the first to come up when these wounded adults seek healing and start pointing out the truth of what their parents did to them that was wrong, hurtful or unloving. That’s why I find a lot of people use the excuse of “they did the best they could” or “but I know they still love me”, for example, because they start to feel “bad” for pointing it out and don’t want to blame their parents. Pointing at what their parents did wrong brings up all the emotions of fear, shame and hurt that they experienced as a child. But deeper than that is the fear of acknowledging the truth of what really happened in their childhood and the avoidance of the deeper grief of emotional abandonment and not feeling loved by their parents.
These emotions of fear, shame and guilt are how your parents manipulated you throughout your childhood (and probably still in adult life) to basically control you, get you to do what they want, meet their own unmet childhood needs and prevent you from holding them accountable for their wrongdoings.
Since children are dependent on their parents for survival, they will do anything for approval, connection and to get on their parent’s good side. The child’s fear of losing their parent’s love and “wounded” connection causes them to ignore the emotional abuse and manipulation to protect the parent and “keep the peace” – after all your survival depended on it. I have seen this over and over and over again and I will say that if you continue to not want to point at what your parents did wrong and sincerely acknowledge the truth about the dynamics of your relationship with your parents throughout your childhood, you will not heal.
In order to heal, you must first be willing to point at your parent’s wrongdoings without making excuses for them or justifying their behaviour in any way. I am not saying here to remain in blame, because this is not healing either, but you must put the blame, responsibility and accountability where it belongs, name it and work from there.
As a child, you will sacrifice yourself to survive.
As an adult, you will sacrifice yourself and your truth to protect your parents.
Idealizing your parents as a child was essential for your survival.
You didn’t choose the relationship you had with your parents, it was created for you by your parents. As an adult, idealizing your parents only covers the emotional pain of abandonment your wounded inner child feels and prevents you from truly healing.
Beneath these projected emotions by your parents, there is deep grief of not being loved (at least in those moments) which most people don’t want to feel or believe is true. Resistance shows up here since by pointing at what your parents did wrong, you are also going “against” what you were programmed to do and, as mentioned above, this triggers the same feelings of fear and shame (that you felt as a child) that was projected by your parents in those emotionally traumatic moments.
As an adult, instead of pointing the finger at the parents, most people transfer these feelings to someone else in their present life who has nothing to do with the original emotional trauma. This results to covering up, even more, the situation their parents disguised from them. They do this to spare the parents’ feelings (which again you were conditioned to look after your parent’s emotional needs rather than your own) and to avoid the parent’s rejection, reaction or feeling hurt. Because even after everything, every human being wants to belong and feel loved by their parents. You want to belong to your tribe and your tribe is your family.
Belonging to a wounded tribe and sick family system will cost you your authentic self.
Children do not have support to heal these emotional traumas and are being taught about love, life and relationships from the very people that are emotionally abusing them. In order to survive, they keep the cause from becoming conscious. They take on their parent’s projected emotions and suppress and repress their own emotions and needs after all these traumatic events. As a result, they lose touch with their truth and often the memory of the event because when you suppress your emotions, you also suppress the memories of the event, which is why a lot of people don’t remember a lot of what happened in their childhood. This is a form of defense mechanism.
Having been forbidden to feel, you have no choice but to deny reality. By emotionally denying this reality (not processing those emotional wounds – also because you were not taught to do that) you are denying your truth and your life experience, in other words, your true self. When you do this, you lose touch with and become alienated from yourself.
This is why so many adults end up feeling lost, confused, depressed, and suicidal. They don’t know who they are or why they feel the way they feel, even though they are successful materially, achieved their goals and have everything on the outside to be happy.
By denying your truth, you are killing your authentic self.
When you are not allowed to be your true self, you lose the joy of life.
I hear so many people, including myself at the start of my healing journey, who are still in denial about their own childhood emotional traumas say things like “what’s the point of life?”
Questioning your existence and the validity of your existence is a sure sign you’ve experienced some form of emotional trauma whereby your parents not only destroyed your will but didn’t give you permission to be. To exist. To live as your real authentic self in a safe environment where you’re loved and supported.
Instead, you existed to meet their needs.
You were objectified.
You were made to be whom they wanted you to be and behave how they want you to behave.
And when your parent’s expectation is not met, you are told you are ungrateful, unloving, lack empathy and selfish – despite everything they have done for you, they also expect you to sacrifice yourself to meet their own unmet childhood needs.
This type of emotional manipulation by your parents when you were a child is a violation of their position of power because they know you need them to survive – you can’t fight back and there is nothing you can do to stop them.
I could go on and on about the intricate details of emotional enmeshment but to get to my point…
If you have not healed those childhood wounds, the fear of feeling your emotions (that was projected by your parents) and becoming aware is still inside you in the wounded inner child.
Your fear of becoming aware of the truth today is the same fear as when you were a child.
Is it possible to heal your inner child? Yes! But the work required to heal is deep (it’s emotional and not from the mind alone) and requires a commitment to finding the truth so that you can heal and live authentically. If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic and learn how to connect to your inner child and start healing I wrote an ebook to help you find the courage to do the hard but rewarding work. Free yourself by healing your inner child and embracing a bright new future.
You have to understand that to a child, love equals making him/her feel safe.
As I mentioned earlier, our parents are like Gods to us as children. After all, they are the ones that help us survive.
For a child, to feel unloved threatens their survival.
When a child is not loved, it doesn’t stop them from loving their parents. They internalize this as “there’s something wrong with me” and as a result, stop loving themselves.
Internally, they start treating themselves the same way their parent does. This is where all your self-sabotaging patterns, self-hatred, negative self-talk, addictions and negative life patterns come from.
You internalize how your parents treat you and start treating yourself the same way. Often, your negative self-talk is actually your parent’s voice that you have internalized.
When a child feels loved, they feel safe.
When you grow up in a dysfunctional family, you don’t know any different. You think that what you are experiencing is love but in reality, you don’t know what love is.
You then grow up and unconsciously seek the wounded love you received as a child.
So when you end up in a toxic relationship, feeling depressed or suicidal, and don’t understand WHY – now you know.
Until you go back and heal those childhood wounds emotionally and process these emotions, nothing
Why most inner child healing methods don’t work
A lot of people try to resolve their childhood traumas mentally, by simply analyzing their childhood to death and doing some form of talk therapy. This can bring you a lot of awareness but will not heal your inner child’s wounds or help you break free from those negative life patterns because the emotions from those traumatic events are stuck inside your body and need to be released. The emotional processing part is an emotional experience, it’s somatic, meaning you have to feel those emotions fully in your body.
When it comes to emotional processing, I’ve seen people shed literally two tears and say “Wow, that was tough!” Little do they know that they didn’t even scratch the surface. How quickly you process the grief will depend on how willing you are to surrender to it. If only one or two tears fall, you will need to do more inner child work until all the childhood grief comes out.
That being said, inner child healing exercises are great to get you started on your healing journey and to reconnect with the hurt parts of you. Whether it’s doing an inner child meditation, writing your inner child a letter, or journaling prompts to jog your memory of what really happened in your childhood, they will help you start to reconnect to those lost parts of you; but that’s not exactly what breaks the negative pattern.
First, you will have to work through your resistance and layers of emotions you have used for years to justify your wound, before being able to access the real emotional inner child’s wound.
What you need to understand is that, as a child, you were not able to grieve and fully process your emotional wounds and childhood trauma because of a number of reasons. Firstly, you were not taught. Secondly, you were likely told and taught (consciously or unconsciously) to suppress your emotions, sometimes by being shamed for even having emotions. And much more.
You can start to connect with your inner child through visualizations or other exercises, but you won’t process the emotional wound at the causal level in this way. The negative pattern won’t change because you won’t have changed your behavior yet by completely feeling your emotions.
I’ve come across so many people who are stuck in negative patterns and yet refuse to acknowledge their childhood wounds. I once taught a workshop and one of the ladies proceeded to share her story and her difficulty with her mother, how her mother was controlling and continuously triggers her – the classic toxic mother dynamic. So I pointed out the obvious, that she had unresolved mother issues from childhood, and she immediately got defensive and said “I’ve forgiven my mother, I had a happy childhood and that’s just the way she is.” But clearly, from her own words, she was not happy and had not moved on. I had two other clients whom I was currently working with attending the workshop who knew exactly what was happening and they both glanced at me and we all just smiled at each other.
We all knew exactly what was happening: this was her defense mechanism. It’s a form of emotional and cognitive dissonance when you only see your inner child as “happy” and are unable to connect the emotional dots or point at your parent’s faults. Simply put, you have your blinders on – denial at its finest.
You can’t SEE and you don’t want to see.
When people give up the truth for an ideology, or they choose to see their childhood as idyllic, they must then defend it at all cost. Otherwise they are forced to face the tragedy of their own traumatic childhood, the truth of what really happened, and how their parents really feel about them (and it’s not love).
Why do people prefer to blindfold themselves, accept abuse, and tolerate being guilt-tripped, manipulated and emotionally blackmailed by their parents?
Although it seems easier to ignore, ignorance here is not bliss.
The emotional suffering and all the negative patterns you must endure by doing this are not worth it.
One of the last excuses I hear when people start healing their inner child is their fear of confronting their parents, saying that they’re too old and fragile now. They don’t want to bring up this old pain because they will not cope.
The idea isn’t to get revenge or to be mean. You will find closure by speaking your truth. You can still talk about your experience with respect and empathy. When you were young, innocent and small, your parents didn’t think twice before abusing (whether it was physical or emotional), manipulating, or breaking your will. They abused their power and very often did so intentionally (even though most people don’t want to believe this) and knowingly.
The false sense of security you have bought into, by belonging to your wounded toxic family, came at a high price – that of losing yourself.
If you continue to endure this, it will cost you your health, relationships, the joy of living and much much more.
When you can face your parents with love and not out of anger, blame or revenge, this is when you take your power back and break the spell they have on you to obey at all cost, including sacrificing your real self. This is really the second part to healing once you’ve processed those inner child wounds.
You need to know that total obedience is not love, despite that often being learned in childhood.
You are not “bad” because you are confronting your parents – this is rather a healthy part of learning how to affirm and individuate yourself.
In fact, you are doing them a favour. You are breaking free from years and years of generational trauma bonding and you are healing the wounded family dynamics.
And this takes courage.
So if you truly want to heal, you need to stop making excuses for your parents’ behaviour or overlooking their faults and be brutally honest with yourself.
Give yourself permission to feel what you truly felt as a child (and wasn’t allowed to feel) so you can set yourself free from these negative patterns and open your heart, so you can start to really live your life.
After all, this is YOUR life and not your parents’.
You have a choice: to heal or not to heal.
Only you can choose to do this.
And I encourage you to do this for YOU.
Because you are worthy of it, because you exist
All techniques and information I share are considered coaching, self-help or complementary therapies. I am not a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or medical doctor, I have a degree in Health Sciences in Holistic & Complementary Therapies. Everything I write and talk about comes mainly from my own experience in healing myself and the tools, techniques, and resources I learned throughout my own inner journey.
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