‘Working with your inner child’ might sound a bit out there. But it is actually a psychotherapeutic concept that originated with Jung, and many therapists use it to help their clients.
The “inner child” is part of your subconscious that has been picking up messages long before your mind was able to understand them (mentally and emotionally). In addition to holding memories and beliefs from the past, it also holds hopes and dreams for the future. Healing and connecting with our inner child can be a powerful and important way to support our emotional and psychological well-being.
Why is Inner Child Work Important?
Inner child work focuses on addressing our unmet needs by reparenting ourselves. This kind of self-discovery helps us understand our behaviors, triggers, wants, and needs. When we begin inner child healing work, we tap into a part of ourselves that is vulnerable and impressionable.
Yes, it can seem odd to be ‘talking’ to the ‘child within,’ but the benefits are impressive. They include:
- accessing repressed memories that are holding you back.
- being able to feel again after years of being numb.
- gaining personal power and the ability to set boundaries.
- learning how to take better care of yourself.
- feeling self-compassion and liking yourself more.
- being able to enjoy life and have fun again.
- gaining self-confidence.
It is our inner child who remembers the joy, innocence, freedom, and playfulness of childhood. It also holds our hurts, traumas, and emotional wounds. The more we connect with and heal our inner child, the more compassionate and understanding our relationship with ourselves can become. To help you tap into and heal your inner child, here are a few simple exercises.
Acknowledge your inner child
Acknowledging that you have an inner child is the first step toward connecting with it. We may think of this part of us as a child, or we may not. There may be a vivid image in your head of your inner child, or there may be none at all. There may be a strong sense that you know who this part is, or there may be no clue. Developing a relationship with your inner child takes time, and you should check in with yourself regularly to see how it’s going. If you are not sure if you have an inner child, here are some questions you can ask yourself to check in with this part of you.
- What words would you use to describe yourself as a child?
- What emotions do you remember feeling as a child?
- What do you remember enjoying as a child?
- What do you remember wishing for as a child?
Create a safe space for your Inner child
Having acknowledged the existence of your inner child and an idea of what this part of you looks like, create a safe space for it. Taking some time to breathe and observing yourself can help you sense your inner child’s presence. If you sense your child, you can visualize yourself placing your child in a safe, secure place. In your arms, in the space around you, wherever feels safe to you, you can place this child. You can also imagine yourself in a safe, secure space.
Write a letter to your inner child
Once you have created a safe space for your inner child, you can write a letter to yourself. It can be a wonderful way to develop a relationship with this part of yourself. You could write about anything you wish to communicate to your child. You can write with your adult self and your child self both in your mind, or you can choose to write with one or the other. There is no right or wrong way to write this letter. No matter how much or how little you write, you can do it in whatever way feels right to you.
Self-Love and Self-Compassion
The final step to bringing all of these things together is to establish a loving and compassionate relationship with your adult self. You can offer your inner child all the love and compassion you need from this point. It is possible for you to provide your inner child with support, kindness, and guidance. Imagine giving your inner child everything you wish you had received as a child. Whether that is positive experiences, skills, or knowledge.
Healing your inner child can be an incredibly powerful and transformative process. It can help you to heal past wounds, find more self-compassion, and create a more compassionate and understanding relationship with your inner self. The process of connecting with and healing yourself can be as individual as you are. There is no right way to go about this, and it can take as long as it needs to take. There is no time limit for healing, and you do not have to do all of these exercises at once if you don’t feel ready. You can work on connecting with and healing yourself anyway that feels right for you.