Inner-Child Healing Work: Your Inner Child Says “Wake Up!
“She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.”― H. Raven Rose
The concept of inner child healing work may cause some people to scratch their heads.
Inner child? You mean to tell me there’s some little version of me living inside myself?
Well, figuratively speaking, yes.
Inner child work is a tool that’s primarily used in the modern psychological field. “Inner child” is a metaphor. It’s a part of your psyche (the little you) that’s divine, already healed, already whole.
It’s innocent, like a child. It’s full of imagination, wonder, playfulness, and joy.
The term was coined by Carl Jung – well-known psychologist known also for “Shadow Work”. He believed that children needed to feel safe and secure, but the reality is that many don’t grow up feeling that way.
In fact, every child feels insecure or unsafe sometimes. Some feel it almost continually.
It’s the primary caregivers’ responsibility to help children feel safe and secure. However, that’s not always the case.
In terms of inner child work, a child that experiences trauma, abuse, chronic stress, neglect, etc. can damage this “inner child”, which, later as an adult, will require “inner parenting” to heal this part of themselves.
Life As Multidimensional Beings
Before we get into inner child healing work, I want to bring your attention to the fact that we are far more than these fleshly body suits.
We’re also spirit, or consciousness.
I am a spirt, I have a mind (psyche), and I have a body.
We’re multidimensional beings, and from the time we are birthed here on this planet, we begin splitting off or separating from our true selves – into fragments. Into various parts.
Coming from a Christian background, I can relate this to the sinful nature causing a separation from a holy God. Now, the Bible doesn’t get into “fragments”, but it does talk about the disconnect between us and God due to sin. In psychology, it’s more of a disconnect from authentic, spirit self, splitting off into wounded fragments.
Inner child work can help us identify those wounded parts, become more self-aware, and heal and integrate those parts.
You know, become “whole”.
An integrated psyche. And this, dear ones, can help you feel much more peaceful and fulfilled.
We all desire that.
You may have heard of shadow work before. Inner child work is similar, except you’re going back and reflecting on your childhood intentionally. You’re going to act as a detective to answer some questions about things like:
- How safe did I feel?
- Was I able to be me without fear?
- Did I feel heard, seen, and loved?
- Did something happen that may have caused me to split off, disconnect, freeze up, etc.?
As you do some inner exploration, you’ll learn a lot about your current beliefs, behavior patterns, neuroses, and more.
You might learn why you keep getting into the same, chaotic, toxic relationships. Or end up quitting every job you ever start.
You’ll also begin to learn how to reparent your inner child.
Reparenting is a modern concept in psychology today. Essentially, reparenting means as you identify unhealed inner child wounds, (such as lack of self-love), you reparent as your mature, adult self. You approach your wounded “little you” as a loving, compassionate, mature parent and offer attention and unconditional love.
Disclaimer (Take Note):
Inner child healing work can work wonders. It can help you heal what needs healed in the psyche and offer you a better quality of life.
At the same time, it can also be challenging and painful. Going back to your childhood to remember painful memories can elicit strong emotions. I know a few people who are terrified to go back and look at their childhood memories – and that’s understandable.
This guide is only a primer to inner child healing work. It’s to get you familiar with the concept and think about moving forward doing a more serious inner healing journey.
I recommend a comprehensive approach to inner healing. Sure, read articles like this. Educate yourself. But in addition, consider getting professional therapy with someone who understands both psychology and spirituality. This way, they can help you work on healing both at the emotional and energetic levels.
If you’ve faced trauma, abuse of any kind, neglect, or mental illness, I advise you to seek professional therapy in addition to your self-directed healing journey.
If you become agitated while reading any of this guide, consider stopping. Rather, seek out a counselor and make an appointment. Today, there are many therapists that will have sessions via video chat, which opens up your world to thousands of therapists from all around the world. Many will work on a sliding scale, which helps if you’re on a budget.
Do what you can on your own, but also seek the wisdom and counsel of someone who is trained to help you do inner exploration, heal, and integrate fragmented parts.
Table of Contents
Life From A Multidimensional View
What Is The Inner Child?
What Is The Wounded Inner Child?
Did I Experience Childhood Trauma?
What Does An Integrated (Whole) Adult Look Like?
Tips To Heal The Inner Child
Become Aware & Accept Your Wounded Inner Child
Recognize Inner Childhood Wounds Represent First Chakra Imbalance
Begin Integrating Fragments
Learn & Apply Mantras To Your Life
What Is The Inner Child?
Your inner child is the young part of you that you came here on Earth as. That innocent, playful, curious part of you. The part of you that’s:
- Loves to get approval from parents/loved ones
- Creative, Imaginative
- Wants to feel safe and secure
- In touch with feelings (temper tantrum, scream in delight, etc.)
What Is The Wounded Inner Child?
Image Source: Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash
Your wounded inner child is that part of you that adopted coping or defense mechanisms as you grew up. It’s the part that responded to trauma, abuse, neglect, or anything you just couldn’t handle at the time because of your young age.
That part of your psyche that’s wounded. That part of you that is wounded, hurt.
For example, let’s say Jim is three years’ old. His Daddy drinks way more than he should, and when he gets drunk, he gets mean. Jim experiences many instances where his dad screams at him, grabs him and shakes him, pushes him down, degrades him and more. Jim, being such a young child, doesn’t have the capacity to cope with such trauma.
The rage of his father terrifies him, but he doesn’t know how to cope. His psyche is confused. This is a man who is supposed to love and care for him, but he doesn’t. Jim has no idea how to cope with the wide range of emotions he feels over this type of trauma.
So, his psyche goes into action. As a survival mechanism (to protect Jim and help him cope), it disconnects Jim from his emotions when his dad gets into one of his rage fits. Jim freezes inside. Rather than feel the incredibly painful emotions, he splits part of himself off (a part that will take on those negative emotions). This fragment will eventually be tucked away in Jim’s unconscious.
While this type of coping mechanism helps Jim get through such trauma, the intense energy associated with the emotions doesn’t just disappear. It stays in the “fragments” locked in the psyche’s unconscious. It will need to be processed, healed, and integrated at some point in Jim’s life. To free up that fragment to “integrate” back into Jim’s energy body. So he will feel more “whole”.
Make some sense?
Did I Experience Childhood Trauma?
I won’t get into chakras in this article, but I want to mention that childhood trauma will end up getting locked up in the first chakra – the root chakra.
Now, the root chakra has to deal with survival, your sense of safety and security.
Think back to your childhood and answer the following questions:
- Did I feel safe and secure?
- Did I feel loved?
- Did I feel like I belonged?
- Are my relationships good or not? Toxic relationships?
Even if you can’t remember much about your childhood, you are able to identify if you experienced some childhood trauma by certain adult characteristics or belief patterns. The degree of woundedness varies depending on different factors. Often, the more traumatic the childhood, the more wounded traits, but that’s not always the case.
Characteristics of the wounded inner child are:
- Feeling broken.
- Fearing people abandoning you.
- Always apologizing.
- Feeling chronically angry, resentful, frustration, rage, etc.
- Feeling higher levels of anxiety.
- Obsessive compulsive tendencies
- You feel you don’t belong
- You tend to be a people pleaser.
- You overly give to others. Then, you feel bad they don’t give back.
- Your heart is shut down. You close yourself off to others.
- You mentally think, “I hate people”.
- You are always trying to get attention or validation from others.
- You are afraid to say what’s on your mind. Have a tough time standing up for yourself.
- The majority of thoughts about yourself are negative.
- You equate success with having the most money or things.
- Shame is one of your best friends.
- You struggle with depression.
- You stay in toxic relationships because you fear being alone.
- You struggle with addiction.
- You have social anxiety. You may isolate at home.
- You lack boundary setting skills
- You have little to no self-worth
- You agree with everyone for fear of conflict.
- You feel overly responsible for other people’s happiness
- My relationship with my parent(s) is strained.
Do you see some of those characteristics operating in your life?
Good news is that there are things you can do to start healing a wounded inner child.
What Does An Integrated (Whole) Adult Look Like?
We all want to feel whole – emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
This is why we’re diving into inner child healing or shadow work!
I want to point out that inner healing is a process and a journey.
You’re on that journey, and that’s wonderful.
As you move forward reconnecting with your inner child – healing and integrating the wounded parts… you’ll be more apt to show up in a variety of ways:
- Better able to feel emotions at the heart level
- Can tap into wants and needs and speak them without anger or creating drama
- More present in the body
- Open up rather than shut down
- Practice vulnerability
- Better understands authentic self
- Able to practice self-love consistently
- Can set better boundaries
- Can dialogue with inner self
- More playful
- Feel more peace and joy
- Look less toward others for affirmation or validation and more toward yourself (and God)
Sounds great, doesn’t it? I love how Ken Wilber talks about us “waking up, growing up, and showing up”.
As we continue to “do the work”, we become more aware of what’s really going on inside (wake up), we do the work “reparenting” (grow up), and then, we can “show up” with some valuable lessons and a lot more authentic love to lavish on others.
I think we can all agree that the world needs more authentic love.
Tips To Heal The Wounded Inner Child
Healing your inner child is a process and a journey. Within each of us lies memories of experiences that occurred as children – some that we never really processed or integrated. Therefore, that energy is still part of our energetic system today.
The following are some tips for healing the wounded inner child. Keep in mind this is a general framework for the healing journey. Entire books have been written on the topic. I encourage you to read more on the topic and will list some great books at the end.
Here are some valuable inner child healing tips:
- Become Aware & Accept Your Wounded Inner Child
The first thing you can do is do exactly what you’re doing now – become aware that you have an inner child and that inner child is likely to be wounded. To what degree, you may not know yet.
Accept that you did not get all your emotional needs met as a child. Even if you had a really great childhood, you’re sure to have had some instances that were considered traumatic for your age, resulting in some sort of wound.
The general rule among psychologists is that no parent can adequately meet ALL the child’s emotional needs. They can be amazing parents, but some level of “inner wounding” will occur. (The neighbor’s dog bit you, the bully at school hit you, you didn’t get the ice cream and threw a tantrum, you fell of your bike, Mom lost her sh&t one day and yelled at you, and so on)
Now that you’re more aware that you have a wounded inner child, begin a dialogue. There are bound to be fragments that have long been hidden, but want you to dig deep to hear and see them.
That’s all your wounded inner child wants anyway – to be seen, heard, and loved unconditionally. To have the chance to have a “do-over” with various situations, able to process and integrate as a mature, more evolved adult. (Get that pent-up energy integrated and fragments back into unity consciousness).
As you begin to reconnect with your wounded inner child, start journaling daily. Write to “little you”. Engage with that precious little child.
Go into this inner work with the intent to “reparent” that wounded inner child. By reparent, I mean dropping within when you feel triggered or negative emotions…and give your Inner Child some reassurance. Let them know they can step back and let you (your adult, mature self) handle the situation. That they are safe.
As you begin reparenting your inner wounded child, they are no longer driving your life unconsciously.
- Recognize Inner Childhood Wounds Represent First Chakra Imbalance
I love psychotherapy, but I’m more interested in transpersonal psychology, which includes mind, body, and spirit.
Talk therapy is great.
Digging into the past with the intent to shine light on the unconscious is wonderful.
But let’s not stop there.
Let’s keep on to address the spiritual root of what’s going on with inner child healing.
I’ll get more into the chakras in a different article.
For now, I want you to realize that a wounded inner child represents an imbalance in the first chakra. Here, I’m talking about the energy body.
Your first chakra is at the base of your spine. It’s responsible for your feeling safe and secure while journeying this planet. If this chakra is off balance or blocked, it’s going to affect the rest of your chakras.
Kind of like if the foundation of a house is shaky or unstable, the house may one day fall. (Which is why foundations are incredibly important!)
If, as a child, your emotional, physical, or spiritual needs weren’t fulfilled, then you start feeling unsafe, insecure, fearful, and so on.
Inner child healing will require you to begin grounding and balancing this charka.
How can you do that?
Get outside in bare feet and “ground”. That simply means put your feet on the earth (Pachamama) and allow Earth’s energy to get your first chakra moving. Allow it to start balancing and flowing.
The ground is charged with negative ions, and we tend to live in a world that’s full of positive ions. (technology, etc.) Going bare foot can help balance that out.
Connect with Mother Earth every day. Take several long, slow breaths and drink in the kind of nourishment that only she can give. As you do, you’ll get that energy flowing in the root chakra, aiding you in healing your inner child.
- Learn & Apply Mantras To Your Life
As you begin dialoging with your inner child more, learn some key, powerful mantras or affirmations to speak over him/her.
A mantra is a statement you repeatedly speak to yourself silently or out loud.
One that works well for me when I start feeling anxious is this:
“All is well. You are safe and secure. I’ve got you.”
This lets that part of me that grew up feeling afraid and powerless.
Rather than let her show up feeling anxious and fearful, I can “reparent” her, letting her know I can handle whatever is going on and she can just relax and play. I mean, isn’t that what children want to do? Play? Be free?
My inner child doesn’t want to be in charge. She wants me (healthy adult) to take the reins.
Other mantras may include:
“You are so loved. I adore you!”
“How can I best show up for you right now? What do you need?”
- Guided Meditations
One thing that really helped me ground was listening to guided meditations for balancing the first chakra and inner child healing. Search YouTube, as there are plenty there.
When I first started serious inner child healing, it wasn’t easy to connect with my inner child. She isolated very well. We were so disconnected, I didn’t know how to start finding her.
The guided meditations helped. I’d listen to various ones throughout the week, saving my favorite ones to a playlist to listen to again another time.
This time that you set aside to go within to do inner child healing is quite valuable. My hope is that you will follow through with this.
- Begin Integrating Fragments
Why should we do this inner healing work? What’s the point?
Integration means to unify, combine, include, merge, incorporate. You don’t want wounded parts of you scattered all about. It feels awful!
Ever hear someone talk about how they are just a sliver of the person they used to be?
Well, that’s because they’ve split off so many parts of themselves! And those parts are like, “Hey. Come get me. I’m out here dangling in limbo and I want and need to be seen, heard, loved, and called back to unify!”
The point is to dig and explore those parts of you that split off from your “core, spiritual” self because of trauma, neglect, etc.
To gather those up and one by one, heal and integrate them into your energetic system. Into your full consciousness.
How do we integrate these fragments?
There are various ways. And, it’s an individualized path, meaning what works for me may not work for another.
Find your unique path and walk it.
I ALWAYS advise a therapist who can help you track your inner wounds. And, not just talk about them, but help you feel, deal, and heal them.
When I finally committed to doing long-term work with a therapist who could journey me back and help me integrate using somatic techniques, that’s when I really started healing at a deep level. For me, a self-directed inner healing journey only took me so far. And sure, I did do some healing and changing, but there were some core wounds that were still kicking my butt.
Patterns that kept showing up and I really couldn’t change them on my own. And some things were hidden very well. I needed to do some exploration with a qualified spiritual therapist. (And still am!)
Here are some other ways people help integrate their wounded inner child:
- Gather pictures of you as a child and place them in a place you see often. If you have an altar, put a few pictures on it. Or, on your nightstand. Seeing these images can remind you of your inner child, and prompt continued dialogue. Love on them!
- Pray the Ho’oponopono prayer for self-forgiveness. Close your eyes and direct this prayer to your inner child: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Say this as many times as you’d like.
- Play – What did you like to do as a child? Make a list of those things that you enjoyed and if you can, engage in that playful behavior. Did you like walking in the woods? Drawing pictures? Bike riding? Climbing trees? Building things? Playing dress up? Carve some playtime regularly as you connect with your inner child. “Little you” will be thrilled!
- Draw pictures that represent your inner child – back then and now.
- Journal regularly
- Write down your intent to heal your wounded inner child.
- Practice mindfulness
- Write letters to and from your inner child.
- As part of reparenting, practice self-care.
- Practice an open heart, rather than staying closed.
Wrapping It Up
As mentioned, this is a basic primer on inner child healing. Our hope is that you become curious about your inner child and consider diving into doing some inner healing work.
If you’re struggling with some of the characteristics of a wounded inner child, please know that there is hope for healing. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, or something else, you can begin the process of uncovering the roots of such emotions.
And, begin healing whatever has been tripping you up unconsciously.
So you can live a more peaceful, content, joyous life.
This is our hope for you.
To assist you further, here are some links to helpful books and guided meditations to help you along your journey.
Rediscovering Sacredness offers helpful resources & guides to help you identify and heal your inner wounds. Regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, there’s hope for emotional healing, growth, and spiritual awakening. We focus on digging deep, doing the inner healing work, shadow work, ancient wisdom techniques & rituals to assist you live the kind of life you were meant to.
Dominica Applegate is an author, writer, and transpersonal spiritual teacher. Her teachings have helped millions of people experience emotional healing, relationship repair, and spiritual awakening. Earning her BA in Psychology and MA in Counseling, she worked 12 years in the mental health field before diving full-time into writing.
She runs Rediscovering Sacredness, an online portal that offers inspiration, essays, resources, and tools to help heal inner pain and experience more peace and joy.
Her books include Recycle Your Pain: It Has a Purpose, Into The Wild Shadow Work Journal, and a collection of poetry entitled, The Pain, It Shapes Her World.