We’ve all heard the reference to the “inner child,” but what does it mean?
According to Cambridge, “your inner child is the part of your personality that still reacts and feels like a child.”
The “inner child” is part of our subconscious. It’s the piece inside of us that utilizes the lessons we learned in childhood. It’s our most natural and true self, before society and your upbringing changed the way you see the world.
Our inner child represents our basic and bare emotions.
Everyone has an inner child
We are adults now. Our childhood is in the past.
Or is it?
Many of our first experiences are in childhood. One study found that over our first few years of life, over a million neural connections are formed every second in our brain! It’s no wonder that each new experience during that time had a lasting impact on ourself. A collection of those childhood experiences and lasting impacts make up our inner child.
Our inner child remembers our childhood emotions and responses to stimuli.
To each person their inner child will mean something different. This is because we all had different upbringings.
All of these emotions that stem from experiences in our childhood make up our inner child.
Our inner child is often hiding and waiting to be seen. Sometimes our inner child is peeking around the dark corner for us to just notice it for a moment.
It’s important to acknowledge and listen to our inner child.
Listen to your inner child
Some individuals actively avoid paying attention to their inner child.
They’ve been impacted by the world and are out of touch with their natural and true self. They’re only listening to the “parent” side of their subconscious. They’re listening to the, no nonsense and opinionated side of themselves. Over the years, they’ve been told by adults to “stop whining” or “grow up and be a man” one too many times and took it to heart.
Things other than themselves came first. Sometimes people need a reason to be motivated and to take charge. Maybe they put their work first, or their partner first. In either situation, they focused on something outside of themselves. In the process, they lost touch with their inner child.
Just because they choose to ignore their inner child, doesn’t mean it goes away. When we don’t listen to our inner child, it can leave us feeling upset or unfulfilled. That could look like any of the following:
If you’re feeling frustrated or stuck in a rut, it’s time to listen to your inner child. When you listen to your inner child, you become more in-touch with your authentic self.
Your inner child taking over
Sometimes our inner child’s voice comes out as a whisper. Other times, it’s a scream.
Ever had an unexpected gut reaction to something? That was likely your inner child. Your inner child saw the stimuli and was reminded of something from childhood that your consciousness has long forgotten about.
Childhood wounds can impact our attitude in the present day. How much those wounds impact our day is important.
Having an unexpected emotional response because of our inner child is fine. Letting our inner child stop us from living our lives fully can cause problems.
It’s important to listen to our inner child. It’s equally important to not let them take over our life completely.
If our inner child had negative experiences that involved uncertainty, danger, or the unknown, it may leave us feeling nervous about new situations. If those feelings hold us back from making positive changes in our life, or trying new things, it may be the inner child taking too much control.
One way to manage our inner child, is to find balance with it. This can be done by paying attention to our inner child and healing its wounds.
Inner child wounds
As a child, we learn a lot from our parents.
We even learn how to be a parent from them.
How our grandparents raised our parents impacts how our parents raised us. How our parents raised us impacts how we raise our children.
What we had, or lacked as children, stays with our inner child, well into adulthood.
Everyone has things from their childhood they maybe wish had been different.
For example, in my own experience, what I have learned is that I grew up in absolute chaos as a child. Both my parents worked unusual and unpredictable hours. I never knew who would be taking care of me. I never knew when I would eat. I never knew if I suddenly would be leaving my home in the middle of the night.
In adulthood, and raising my own family, I’ve found myself falling into the same cycle I had known as a child: chaos. My life was a continued place of chaos. Unfortunately for my own three children, I introduced them to the chaos I knew.
Granted, my kids had a little more stability in their childhoods, than my own. However, chaos was still a constant while they were growing up. Sometimes it would cause us to butt heads.
I only knew chaos when I raised my three children. I simply did not know another way. That is of course, until I owned a preschool.
Owning a preschool makes you stop and think about your own style of raising kids. When I started learning about conscious parenting, I started to think about the things I had maybe missed out on as a child. I started to think about my own inner child wounds. A lack of stability might be one of them.
As an adult now, it’s my responsibility to make sure that the wounds of my childhood do not impact those I raise. It’s my responsibility to work through my inner childhood wounds.
I’ve taken steps to acknowledge my inner child wounds. I’ve processed them and learned from them. Today, I’m able to give this gift to both myself and the children who come into my school.
My school is probably the most predictable space in their lives. We have scheduled eating times, nap times, and recess. There’s a structure to every moment of the day.
When they go home, their parents are probably living in chaos like I was – living in survival mode. The least I can do is provide a place of predictability to balance out the day.
Balancing with your inner child
There are many feelings from childhood that stay with us through life. These feelings are what fuel our inner child.
Since those feelings from our inner child follow us into adulthood, they continue to grow with us. This piece of our subconscious is complex enough that it feels like a stand-alone part of us. That is probably part of the reason that our inner child feels like a living-breathing piece of us.
As stated earlier, it’s important to find a healthy balance with our inner child. We can’t let its fears control us. But we shouldn’t entirely shut out it’s feelings either.
Learn ways to work with your inner child so that you can have win-win situations.
Creating a healthy bond with your inner child
What if our parents, society, culture, and friends over the years failed us?
Are we now just wounded adult children wondering the Earth?
Are we doing the same cycle all over again that we learned in childhood?
To love another person, we should first learn to love and take care of ourselves.
When we were never taught the right skills, how do we bring those skills now into adult lives? Who is waiting for us to do that? If no one has or will teach us, then that leaves the learning up to us.
If our inner child has long since been cast aside, they’re waiting for us.
If we feel like we’ve been there for others, but not for our own self, then it’s time to make a change. It is time to show up for ourselves.
Healing our own inner child can help us get unstuck.
Healing your inner child
Healing our inner child looks different for everyone.
In my experience, there is nothing like going into a room of children under the age of five. It’s like walking into a jungle of pure human and animal instinct. I learned from those little wild human animals.
Watching how children react to situations helped me recognize and heal my own inner child. Here are a set of steps any of us can take to heal our inner child:
Following these steps can help us get in better contact with our inner self and heal our inner child.
Be sure to create a schedule that weighs priorities and what is not important.
A healthy inner child means successI don’t know about others, but just writing these words brings so much relaxation in my body. My whole being says, “Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for seeing me. I feel safe.”
Welcome to the work of loving yourself more, with more love and purpose.
For more information, please watch episode 1 on Schedules and episode 10 on Healing Your Own Inner Child in Coach Shelley’s Conscious Parenting course.