Inner Child is a concept used in popular psychology and analytical psychology to denote the childlike aspect of a person’s psyche, especially when viewed as an independent entity. Frequently, the term is used to address subjective childhood experiences and the remaining effects of one’s childhood. The Inner Child also refers to all of the emotional memory and experiences stored in the brain from earliest memory. The 12 step recovery movement considers healing the Inner Child to be one of the essential stages in recovery from addiction, abuse, trauma, or post traumatic stress syndrome. In the 1970s, the Inner Child concept emerged alongside the clinical concept of co-dependency. So the inner child is essentially the “you” inside of you…. Since in my journey as an educator, psychologist and re-covering self-hate person.. I have used inner child concepts myself as well as with my students and clients. The following is pretty much a compilation of lots of information I’ve used and collected over the years.
The “inner child” is the:
* Little child you were who desired to be nurtured, cared for and loved. This child still resides within you as an adult.
* Free spirit, pixie or elf you have tamed and controlled, yet who resides within you.
* Emotional and sensitive you whom you have channeled, controlled and silenced and who is still living within you.
* Creative, imaginative and artistic you who has been molded, structured and organized; who still resides in you and is needing to be set free.
* Hurt, pained, neglected, frustrated, abused and ignored you whom you have masked, hidden from view and denied the existence of. This child is always just below the surface, causing you to be anxious, worried and fearful of mistreatment.
* Fun loving, happy, frivolous, joyful, humorous you when you were young and unsophisticated; that person you have replaced with a sophisticated, mature, serious, task-oriented demeanor.
* Childhood you have lost or forgotten; yet it still resides in you, dwelling in your subconscious.
* Person who knows how to have fun and play for play’s sake; who can help you prevent burnout and manage the stress in your life.
* Person you could be as an adult if you lightened up, let go of your seriousness, overcame your fears and accepted flexibility and change in your life.
* Person within you who needs healing, support and reinforcement
How did the “inner child” get there?
The “inner child”:
* Resides in every adult person.
* Lives in every adult because it is captured in the brain’s memory bank.
* Exists in the memory or subconscious because each one of us has poignant memories of our past that shape our present motivation and future drive.
* Exists because when we adopted specific behavior characteristics and behavior scripts to cope in our dysfunctional environment we masked, covered up or forgot the real “inner child” we had been.
* Comes back to many of us in our dreams or daydreams. We can clearly picture what the little child looks like and how the child is feeling and acting.
* Is the person we controlled, repressed and hid in order to survive in the world of stress? Since it was repressed we held onto it in our subconscious.
* Is the link we have to our spiritual being because it is in the spirit realm rather than in the realm of conscious behavior.
* Is a component of our current value and belief system; however, we are unaware of its influence on our decisions.
* Exists because when we were overcome by guilt as children, we climbed inside of ourselves to avoid the feelings of not being “good enough.”
* Exists because when we were little our family rules required that we present an image of a happy, healthy family, even if we weren’t. So we repressed our little child to appear more responsible, serious and achievement-oriented.
What is the unfinished business of the “inner child”?
From growing up in a dysfunctional family, emotional maturity was stunted. This failure to mature left the “inner child” unfinished because we:
* Grew up too fast.
* Became small adults; little “moms” and “dads.”
* Were either over responsible or overachievers.
* Were emotionally vulnerable.
* Were not given a chance to grow and mature in a normal sequence of events.
* Put on a public mask or image to stifle our child-like needs.
* Repressed joy, vision and feelings.
* Still have a “inner child” waiting to grow up and take its proper place.
How does the “inner child” come into being?
The “inner child” comes into being by:
* A denial of true feelings.
* A denial of the person we are.
* Trying hard to live up to others’ expectations.
* Holding back our child-like responses, while we provide adult like responses to stress.
* The fear of being “found out” about how we really feel.
* Insecurity in the midst of chaos, confusion or the vacuum of repressed feelings.
* A sense of obligation to always “look good” and “be good.”
* Inexperience at being loved for “who you are” rather than for “what you do.”
* Not being given the role model of how to “enjoy” life and to have “fun.”
* Always having to be “serious” about life.
* A lack of encouragement to broaden our scope of vision about the “potentials” in life.
* The stress of staying vigilantly in the “here and now” so that we stay in control and the “walls didn’t come tumbling down” around us.
* Never being given or taking the freedom to play and act childish.’
* Not being given role models of how to take pleasure out of the “little” things in life.
* A compulsive drive to fulfill our role in our family.
* Not recognizing that we can make choices in our lives to make it what we want it to be.
* Continuing even now to follow our compulsive role(s) rather than choosing to change and be free from the restraints this compulsion creates for us.
* Silencing our “inner child” and guarding ourselves, retreating behind “masked” barriers.
* Feeling that it is not safe to grow up, to accept love or to share feelings.
* Learning to spend some time each day in pleasure and play.
What are the signs of activity of the “inner child”?
We know our “inner child” is active when we:
* Lose ourselves in frolic and fun.
* Cry at a sentimental movie or TV show.
* Over-indulge our own children.
* Enjoy playing with children’s toys.
* Love visiting Walt Disney World or other theme parks designed for children.
* Seek out adult toys to play with.
* Cry or grieve as adults for the losses we experienced in our past.
* Still seek to please the senior members of our families of origin and our extended families.
* Get sentimental looking at old photo albums, home movies or scrapbooks about our childhood.
* Experience the same intensity of feeling we had as children as we role play or act out experiences from our past.
What messages did the “inner child” need to hear, but which went unsaid?
When the “inner child” climbed inside you it probably was hoping to hear:
* I love you, I care about you and I accept you just the way you are.
* I am so proud of you and all that you are.
* I am so happy you are my child.
* You are so beautiful and attractive.
* You are so bright and talented.
* You are so artistic and creative.
* You are such a good worker.
* I am sorry I hurt you.
* I am sorry I neglected you.
* I am sorry I forgot you.
* I am sorry I ignored you.
* I am sorry I took you for granted.
* I am sorry I made you grow up so fast.
* I am sorry I had to rely on you so much.
* You can trust me to take care of you.
* You can trust me to be there for you.
* You can trust me to protect you from any hurt or pain.
* I will get help for myself and for the family.
* We will work at getting healthy together.
* We will have healthy fun and play together.
What are the negative consequences of suppressing the “inner child”?
When as adults we choose to suppress the memory, needs and desires of the “inner child” we run the risk of:
* Never learning how to feel normally.
* Never learning how to play and have fun.
* Never learning how to relax and manage stress.
* Never learning how to appreciate life. We would rather work at living.
* Taking ourselves too seriously.
* Feeling guilty over not being good enough, driving ourselves to work harder to be good enough.
* Becoming workaholics.
* Not enjoying our family life with our children.
* Being suspicious of people who enjoy life, have fun and know how to play.
* Social isolation, afraid to get involved with other people for fear we will be found out to be inadequate, not normal or a misfit.
What nurturing messages can you give your “inner child”?
You can tell your “inner child” that it is OK to:
* Have the freedom to make choices for itself.
* Be “selfish” and do the things you want to do.
* Take the time to do the things you want to do.
* Associate only with the people you want to associate with.
* Accept some people and to reject others.
* Give and accept love from others.
* Allow someone else to care for you.
* Enjoy the fruits of your labor with no guilt feelings.
* Take time to play and have fun each day.
* Not to be so serious, intense and inflexible about life.
* Set limits on how you are going to relate to others.
* Not always “serve” others.
* Accept others “serving” you.
* Be in charge of your life and not let others dictate to you.
* Be honest with others about your thoughts and feelings.
* Take risks and to suffer the positive or negative consequences of such risks.
* Make mistakes, laugh at them and carry on.
* Let your imagination and creativity be set free and to soar with the eagles.
* Cry, hurt and to be in pain as long as you share your feelings; do not repress or suppress them.
* Be angry, to express your anger and to bring your anger to some resolution.
* Make decisions for yourself.
* Be a problem solver and come up with solutions with which everyone may not agree.
* Feel happiness, joy, excitement, pleasure and excitement about living.
* Feel down, blue, sad, anxious, upset and worried, as long as you share your feelings.
* Love and be loved by someone whom you cherish.
* Be your “inner child” and to let it grow up, accept love, share feelings and enjoy pleasure and play.
Tomorrow… finding the missing pieces… perhaps your inner child is trying to find its way out… right now, my inner child needs some caffeine… is that wrong???? hmmmmmmmmmmmm Until tomorrow then…. thanks for tuning in…