what is an inner child?
Working with children brings me so much happiness. Part of the reason why I love working with children is because of the curiosity and joy that they bring. They view the world with so much wonder and magic that you can’t help but learn from their curiosity. The interesting thing is that we all had that same curiosity and wonder about the world once, some of us still do. As adults, it can be a bit harder to feel that wonder and awe about the world we once felt because of life stressors.
Working with children has helped me tap into my inner child and has pushed me to continue working nurturing it.
You may be asking yourself, “Do I have an inner child?”. The answer is yes!
According to Eric Berne, our child stage holds “emotions or feelings which accompanied external events” (http://www.ericberne.com/transactional-analysis/). To put it in simple terms, your inner child includes feelings that you may carry around based on your childhood experiences.
This child lives within us and can hold all of our past experiences which we carry with us throughout our lives. Believe it or not, we are deeply impacted by our childhood experiences. I am sure there are at least 1 or 2 experiences, if not more that we still remember vividly. Some of these experiences may be positive and others may be painful to recall.
As we grow, our brain develops and learns from what we experience. If throughout our childhood we experienced stressful, scary, or difficult things, this can impact the way we view the world. For example, someone who experienced stressful situations throughout their childhood may grow up constantly worried and not being able to relax. Our body can remember different stressors and trauma that often replay throughout adult lives. Sometimes it may not be a stressful situation but could be the messages we received that were not very kind. Someone who felt like a bother, an annoyance, enfadosx, not good enough, or any other messages can carry these beliefs in their adult life. These messages impact our self-esteem and how we view ourselves in the world. They can often lead to self-doubt and self-sabotage.
How Do I know if I have to Work with My Inner Child?
When we have these experiences and messages that stay with us, they may impact us in different ways. For example, we may want to please everyone, talk negatively to ourselves, feel like we are not good enough, etc.
Do these messages or current beliefs stem from your childhood?
It is important to be able to process these experiences if they are deeply impacting us or causing us emotional distress. If you do not already have one, it may be helpful to find a therapist that can support you on your journey. Although I am myself a therapist, the list below is not a substitute for therapy. These suggestions are a way to bring attention to and support you on your healing journey.
5 Ways to Start
Working with Your Inner Child
Talk to your younger self –Tell yourself things that you needed to hear when you were younger. Feel scared? Tell yourself that you are safe and that you are there to protect them (your inner child)… Feeling worried? Tell your younger self you will be okay and you will get through any obstacle. Feeling like you are not enough? Tell your younger self that you are enough and worthy of love.
Do your favorite childhood activity – What was your favorite activity to do when you were little? When was the last time you engaged in this activity? Doing your favorite activity can help bring some joy to you and your inner child.
Play – Have some fun. Play, laugh, dance, do something that brings you joy. Feel silly doing any of these activities? You can play a video game, board game, go bowling, miniature golfing, jump on a trampoline, ride a bike, sing your favorite song, the possibilities are endless.
Watch Your Favorite Childhood Movie/ Show– Netflix and laugh with your inner child. Watch your favorite childhood show or movie and give yourself some love. Watching our favorite movies can bring a lot of joy and happy memories.
Eat Your Favorite Childhood Treat– What did your younger child love to eat? Treat yourself and your inner child by having your favorite food or snack so that you can nourish yourself and your inner child.
Wishing You Much...
Joy, curiosity, & wonder in this journey.
Zeyda is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who specializes in children and youth mental health. She helps youth and families make meaning of their experiences and supports caregivers in better understanding their children. Zeyda also created her wellness blog to make her knowledge as a therapist accessible. Her work is inspired by being 1st generation Mexicana raised in Los Angeles and by her ancestor who made all of these career opportunities possible.