There are many differences between experiencing trauma as an adult and experiencing trauma as a child. One difference is that experiencing a stressful event as a child can cause an everlasting impact throughout adulthood. This everlasting impact is what affects the ‘inner child’ when those children become adults. The inner child is something that exists within everyone. It is the playful, fun, cheerful, hurt, as well as saddened child we once were. Any traumatic or stressful event that was experienced as a child is remembered by the body, and that is how it continues to affect us into adulthood.
“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” – Pablo Neruda
The obstacle to overcome when attempting to heal the inner child is being able to understand, connect with, and accept the child within. Inner child wounds can be because of abuse that was experienced as a child, neglect, distressful events, loss of a loved one at an early age, as well as many more. Tending to the inner child can allow for growth and prosperity for later life.
Some Signs That Your Inner Child May Be Impacting You:
- Having feelings of shame, guilt, inner restlessness
- Having feelings of worthlessness, never feeling satisfied with self
- Negative self-talk
- Having the need to be a perfectionist with responsibilities or tasks
- Self-sabotage, self-destructive behaviors
- Excessive work ethic
- A pattern of unhealthy/unstable relationships
- Chronic overworking and overachievement (to knowingly or unknowingly gain approval, praise or belonging)
- Not being able to be in the here and now (present moment)
Taking steps towards healing the inner child can be done with seeking therapy, practicing mindfulness skills, as well as increasing one’s own level of self-awareness. Navigating inner child work with a therapist can allow you to work through that trauma, distressing memories and emotions. Working through these events can be distressing in and of itself, though having someone who is trained to support people with these types of issues can allow for many doors to open. The goal of inner child work within therapy is to explore these past events, with an emphasis on early memories to learn skills on how to regulate the self.