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Learn about the psychology behind discovering your inner child.
Whether we are aware or not, as human beings, we all have an inner child. While many of us associate joy, playfulness, and adventure with our inner child, those who have experienced events or circumstances of trauma or neglect during their younger years often view their inner child as vulnerable and in need of protection from others.
What is the definition of your inner child?
Before we are able to understand what is meant by discovering your inner child, it is essential to define and comprehend the core of its definition. Simply put, your inner child is a piece of your personality that, regardless of your age, still responds and experiences emotions of being a child.
Is the inner child factual?
Now, after reading that short passage, you may be wondering whether the presence of your inner child is authentically apart of who you are as a person. It is important to note that while there is no physical indication of your inner child, is has been widely accepted in the field of psychology that your inner child has been a part of you since you were born and reflects a part of your inner self that is ruled by our adult ego and fears.
To explain this further, just as adults view children as being “naïve, dependent and powerless,” your inner child or self is a reflection of those characteristics.
Why is the inner child needy?
One of the most definite answers to this question is that children are, for the most part, unable to take care of themselves and are therefore needy. Another response to this question is throughout our childhood, our inner selves are prone to be hurt, which in turn causes us to become more vulnerable as we age into our adult years.
Examples of Childhood Trauma
Whether it is a specific event or situation, our inner child will become wounded, whether big or small. Here is a list of examples that we may experience throughout our childhood that impacts our inner child and who we are inherently today as adults. It should be noted that while this list covers some instances, the list is not exhaustive in nature and should not be treated as such.
· A family divorce or separation
· Sexual abuse
· Loss of a parent or someone close to you
· Physical or emotional abuse
· Witnessing substance abuse in your home
· Witnessing domestic violence
· Surviving a natural disaster or war
· Suffering from mental illness
In turn, these traumatic experiences affect the child and their inner sense of self, which manifests as behaviors such as neediness, impulsivity, and fear. When we age, although we have learned to regulate our emotions rationally, our inner child will lash out in circumstances where we feel vulnerable –much like a child.
If action is not taken, or if one does not realize the harm that has been done to their inner child, your subconscious mind will reflect your traumas in your adult life. Here are some examples of impacts that you may experience as a result of your inner child:
· Violent and impulsive behaviors
· Self-destructive behaviors
· Covert aggression
· Being a people-pleaser
As you can see, just as a child who is unable to regulate their emotions appropriately, you as an adult will also reflect the inability to do so as well.
Embracing your inner child
Although not easy, in order to heal our inner selves from instances of trauma we have experienced throughout our lifetimes, it is crucial to begin embracing your inner child. Healing your inner child involves looking inwards to heal wounds that you may not be aware of are there. The healing process starts with facing your fears and traumas from your childhood by confronting your inner child. In some cases, individuals may need first to understand what happened to them as a child that has caused them inherent trauma before engaging their inner self.
Throughout your journey, and by embracing your inner child, individuals are able to bring forth feelings of compassion, love, playfulness, and acceptance for themselves.
In many instances, psychologists will work with you to implement techniques that are known as re-parenting your inner child. This essentially means this because you will learn to re-train your thought processes and emotional regulation to become everything you needed or longed for when you were a child so you can begin to heal yourself.
Needless to say, the effects of childhood trauma can last well into your adult years and negatively influence your behaviors and mental well-being, whether you are aware or not. Concealing your pain does not provide real relief and will only continue to surface throughout your life.
As we become adults, we are meant to reflect a “stand for power, interdependence, authority and influence,” which can cause us to self-isolate and “show sophistication and strength in independence.”
However, this, in turn, causes us to feel more isolated and alone from others’ help. Therefore, one crucial aspect to remember, it is never too late to begin healing and nurturing your inner self.
If you or someone you love has suffered from childhood trauma and feel ready to speak with a licensed therapist, please visit our main page to find out more information about how we can assist you on your journey to self-validation and acceptance.