I often have people ask me what inner child work is and tend to find many women coping with problems that might find resolution by doing inner child work. The concept is that we all have the young version of ourselves still inside. If that child has experienced difficulties that have not been healed then he/she will contribute to how we interact to others as an adult.
How do you know if your inner child needs healing? Here are some common symptoms of a wounded inner child:
1. Feeling too scared to be totally open with people, difficulty showing them the real you.
2. Being reactive: instantly responding to others defensively rather than fully understand what you feel. For example, feeling hurt or scared comes out as anger.
3. No matter how much effort you put into controlling how your life will unfold, you feel completely out of control.
4. Have difficulty managing negative thoughts or beliefs about yourself.
A wounded child will go into hiding rather than risk further rejection or pain. If our inner child is our true self, essence, or who we are in the absence of fear, what remains? Usually a mask of who we are, impenetrable, and thus preventing others to really get to know who we truly are. This can prevent others from getting close to us, cause us to feel helpless, and be frustrated that people don’t seem to understand who we know, deep down inside, we really are.
The great news is that there are steps to take to overcome a wounded inner child that can lead to a more positive, genuine life with others. Healing might include developing a strong positive inner voice rather than a critical voice that perpetuates self abuse. Healing might also include learning how to accurately identify and express the feelings you are experiencing. Also, learning what our needs are, individually, outside of relationships and becoming confident asking for those needs to be met. We can learn how to love and nurture that child again so he/she comes out of hiding and feels more confident being with others without the mask.
When our inner child is loved by ourselves, we can love others without fear, take healthy risks, be genuine, reconnect with the interests that enrich our lives, and be more confident.