The inner child is not something that commonly understood and/or embraced in daily life. It’s primarily used when someone is facing a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression. However, doing inner child work can offer tremendous benefit in your life, such as improvement in your relationship with yourself and others. It would also develop your emotional intelligence so that you can be more agile in dealing with disappointments and challenges in your daily life.
What is an inner child?
The inner child is a metaphorical term that is used to describe the childlike aspect of an adult’s emotion or behavior. The term was first introduced by the archetypal Jung notion of the puer aeternus (male) or puella aeterna (female). It is a combination of childhood memories and beliefs that deeply embedded into the subconscious mind and reinforced over time.
It can also be a repressed emotion and learned behavior that you were taught as a child. For example, if your parent offered affection only when you “behaved”, you may hold the belief that you are unlovable unless you meet others’ wants and expectations. You could also grasp the feeling of aloneness, sadness, and anger towards others as you suppress your feelings, desires, and needs over time.
This inner child can be viewed as a sub-personality, aside from your adult’s character that can take over at any time when you are faced with challenges or adversities in life, especially when you feel unsafe. According to scientific studies, our personalities and primal belief system are being formed between infancy to 7 years of age. Yet during that period, our brain can’t discern what is right vs wrong, what is ours vs someone else. We are unaware of all the thoughts that we are thinking, we take on other people’s beliefs, emotions, and circumstances as ours and we tend to carry wounds of childhood through to adolescent.
Why is it important to do inner child work?
Inner child work is about accessing your childhood memory to help you find the root cause of your issues as an adult. It raises your awareness of the repressed emotions, including fears and worries that holding you back from realizing your true potential in life.
I believe that connecting and working with my inner child was a crucial step in transforming how I live my life. It’s one of the key factors that helped me to accept and love myself. I am responsible to give myself love and I stopped looking for love from others whenever I feel unloved or down. This awareness shifted the behavior that allows me to receive love and acceptance from others without needing to meet a certain expectation from others.
Further, inner child work helped me and my clients to release many of self-sabotage patterns that preventing from achieving success in life. For example, I was raised under the pressure to perform well at school by my parent. This pressure led me to believe that I am not good enough instead of accepting that I have done the best I could. At the peak of my corporate career, I felt burnt out from trying to realize that good enough and accomplished feeling. I told myself that I will be good enough when … which is a measure that I could never achieve. I was also holding back from taking the next career stage because I don’t feel good enough to step into a senior role.
Through the identification of the inner child, I can see life through the eyes of my childhood. I become conscious of the choice on my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors rather than being dependent on reactive and impulsive thoughts, feelings and emotions about my past identification.
4 Simple Steps Of Inner Child Work:
Inner child work should be part of your daily practice in maintaining your general wellbeing just like healthy eating and physical exercise. The following steps if practiced daily will help to raise your consciousness in restoring your relationship with your inner child.
- Discover your primal negative belief
Primal negative belief is a simple language not clinical as they were implanted at the childhood stage. To discover your Primal Negative Beliefs, you must dive deep just like peeling the onion as there are layers of camouflage to your subconscious buried years ago when you were before 7 years of age.
Most common forms of Primal Negative Beliefs are I am Not Good Enough, I am Alone, I am Not Wanted, I am afraid and I can’t do this. The process to identify this primal negative belief is by saying the negative belief out loud and observe your physical reaction when you say it. It is often a tight feeling or sensation in the throat or chest as your body struggles to release it verbally and it can manifest in the need to swallow as you attempt to hold it back. You will also attempt to distract yourself as often there is pain around the memory that has been buried since you were a child.
- Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis will help you to observe and differentiate between your past and/or present circumstances. This practice helps you to become aware of where you are and what you are doing without being reactive to your surroundings.
Whenever a significant event happens in your life, calm your emotion first, detach then ask yourself a question, what is currently happening here vs what triggers my past event, thoughts, and emotions. Next, you need to play the role to be your detective, by tracing back how and why past event affects you and acknowledge the lesson. At that moment, you have the opportunity to accept your past and forgive yourself and others that involved. Remember, every single moment and event is a unique opportunity for growth and transformation.
- Embrace self-love and self-acceptance
Contrary to common belief, self-love is not a selfish act. It is your responsibility to love yourself and is a must before you can give out love to others. Being able to love and accept yourself as enough will shift your need to look for love and attention from others which creates co-dependency in any kind of relationship, including love, work or family relationship.
One way to embrace self-love and self-acceptance is by looking at yourself in the mirror and saying I love you or I am enough. Initially, you may feel a bit awkward, however, over time this will get easier and you will start to feel good about it.
- Removing The Need To Seek For Constant Approval
We are conditioned from a very young age to feel good, worthy and doing something right when a parent or teacher validated us. When we question authority we are scolded with “Because I Said So!”. We are taught to comply mistaking a parent’s anger as a withdrawal of love. If we either rebel or comply outwardly it is all based on the fear of not being accepted/loved. Both lead to self-sabotage. One of the main issues with chronic approval seeking is that it leaves you vulnerable to being manipulated and abused by others.
The need for being approved can be very addictive, as it gives us fake feel good and masks our insecurities. When you have a need for approval you value the beliefs, opinions, and needs of others above your own and place others’ opinion far more important to you than your own.
Your entire decision-making processes are eventually taken over by your need for the approval of others. You cannot take any decisive action without their approval. You sacrifice your dreams and ambitions to have their approval. This pressure to perform and to “live up to other people’s expectations” creates an enormous amount of stress in our lives.
Being aware of why you are seeking approval from others is the key step to resolve this issue. The process can be as simple as writing a vivid description of your childhood in autobiography.
Inner child work is an ongoing personal development process and if it’s practiced religiously will transform every area of your life. Being able to control your inner child is also the key to your inner peace, happiness, and success in life. You will also create the life experience consciously and intentionally instead of being taken through a series of random turmoil.