Understanding and Healing Your Inner Child
Children who received nurturance and support grow up feeling secure. Children who experience childhood abuse, neglect, abandonment, painful separation or family violence struggle with painful memories. Some children protect themselves by suppressing their feelings and burying the memories deep within their subconscious. Although they temporarily avoid the pain, this wounds their inner child.
The inner child is a semi-independent subpersonality to the waking conscious mind, and it has been part of us since conception. Coined by prominent psychologist Carl Jung, the inner child is our subconscious which holds positive and negative memories during the developmental years. It has emotions, memories and beliefs from the past, as well as hopes and dreams for the future. The inner child's painful memories include neglect, losses, and bitter family arguments. These painful experiences develop into attachment trauma (sometimes referred to as developmental trauma). Quite frequently, the child dissociates or numbs the painful memories to protect themselves from the pain and to enable them to cope with daily tasks. However, the unprocessed traumatic memories often lead to difficulty forming healthy relationship when they grow older and through behaviours such as anger outbursts and avoidance. Though they have grown physically, the inner child continues to hold the pain.
Signs that you may have a wounded inner child include:
Having a deep fear of abandonment
Avoiding conflict at any cost
Difficulty trusting people appropriately
Having difficulty expressing emotions
Feeling that something is wrong with you
Having problems with setting boundaries
Being rigid or a perfectionist
A wounded inner child impact our present lives. We make choices and decisions based on unconscious memories or beliefs from the past. Although the youth or adults know the difference, the wounded inner child cannot connect to the adult "self" and thus cannot understand that it is a different situation or a different person. The inner child's fears can overwhelm the adult self, leading to frequent interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts.
Healing from attachment trauma includes reaching out and connecting with the wounded inner child. Reparenting the inner child includes providing safety and stabilisation to help the inner child feel safe. The adult self is then free to develop healthy self-esteem, emotional regulation, and positive communication skills. Psychotherapy treatments for connecting and treating traumatised-wounded inner child include Internal Family System, Ego States Therapy, Sandplay Therapy and Psychodrama. Experience EMDR Therapists integrate these modalities as part of processing childhood trauma.
Restoring Peace Counselling and Consultancy provides trauma-informed psychotherapy services for children, youth and adults. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp us at +65 8889 1848.
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