Dr Nicole LePera (a.k.a. @theholisticpsychologist) explains this really well. She highlights six signs your inner child needs healing:
- You have a deep fear of being criticized.
- There are parts of yourself you are afraid to express or you feel shame around.
- You look to other people for guidance when making decisions or for confirmation of what to believe.
- You find yourself consciously or unconsciously trying to fix, save, or rescue others.
- You feel guilty for saying ‘no’ or needing time alone.
- You feel responsible for other people’s emotions.
I began my healing journey in 2011. I begged my husband (as he was then) to find me someone to speak to. I was either full of rage and anger, or depressed and completely detached from life. I was also full of guilt and shame.
I had just come back from a family holiday with my own family of origin (you know Mum, Dad, siblings, their partners, and all the grandkids type thing). It was my first since I was about 13 and was actually the catalyst needed to start me on the path to healing. A path I’ve since learned is long and winding has no concrete end but is well worth following nonetheless.
I can look back now and see that all the above points applied to me. They still do in the sense that my inner child is still there and will always need me to be aware of her tendency to behave/react in these ways.
My psychologist used to say that awareness is the first step to change. Dr. Nicole suggests taking that awareness, listening to our inner child without judgment, and then beginning a dialogue that involves empathy, kindness, and compassion. “You’re ok. We’re ok. I’m here to protect you now. You’re worthy, just as you are”
I think of myself now as carrying around a bunch of child versions of myself. There’s the one who felt stupid because she couldn’t read as well as the other kids in primary school, there’s the teenager who felt fat and unlovable, the teenager who tried to suppress everything and hideaway, there’s the teenager who felt unseen and alone. And so many more. They all like to pop up and react to current situations in my life.
Before I started this journey, these different versions of myself ran the ongoing adult road-show. Never had I actually come into my own body and owned who I was. By noticing, acknowledging, and starting a conversation with my inner-child, I have been able to reparent these versions of myself and help them feel less scared about what life throws at us.
This work can be done alone, but it is really a very special thing to walk this road with a counsellor or therapist. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to find out how I can support you in your healing journey.