"Grow up!", we often hear this phrase get thrown out a lot when a person's mannerisms or behaviour do not match their age. But what really solidifies as acting your age or even not acting childish? As blooming youths, we have our fair share of traumatic experiences and unpredictable mishaps through our childhood and "the awkward years" aka adolescence. Yet we still find it difficult to really understand ourselves and improve as a person due to our fixation on short-term fixes such as our obsession towards temporary self-help information or bombarding oneself with mindless entertainment in the hopes of taping our problems.
You might be asking "What should I do then, enlighten myself with every single religion known to mankind or just reject humanity all together ?" Hold your horses, partner. Yes, the answer is within yourself but most notably𑁋your inner child.
Photo by Jessica Rockowitz
According to an article on harleytherapy, an inner child represents the child we were, in both good and bad ways. Still dormant within us are both our unmet needs and repressed childhood feelings, as well as, childlike innocence, imagination and joy. Much of the issues we face when transitioning to adulthood derive from either unresolved childhood trauma or histories of self-sabotaging behaviours that we participate in during adolescence as coping mechanisms. In the very same article, it states in his book 'Memories, Dreams, Reflections' Carl Jung, a famous psychoanalyst, mentions he became aware he lost the imagination and passion of creating things he had as a child. While remembering his childhood passion, he noticed the emotions that came to light and set out to develop a relationship with his 'small boy'. This happened by doing playful things that then resurface other memories and emotions that needed to be worked upon.
According to an article on loveandlifetoolbox, as a child, the most challenging part is facing what encounters would have been like for you. This means breaking down some of your well-built and supportive defence mechanisms. But as daunting as it can be emotional, this inner child's work can feel liberating once faced. Well fear not, here are some steps to work on healing your inner child.
Acknowledging your inner child
Recognize the existence of your inner child by revisiting and re-evaluating your memories and experiences from the past whether that will be trauma, abuse or even self-damaging habits. Similar to a normal child, your inner child wants their presence to be seen but not to be ignored. Because they were unknowingly wounded by circumstances around their environment.
Provide a refuge for them
When a child is born, the first thing a parent would do is to keep them safe right? Well, this can also be applied to our wounded inner child. It starts by creating a safe place for them to slowly reach out to us rather than shouting or complaining about why they are not cooperating with you. Basically, this step is to establish trust𑁋the cornerstone of any type of relationship.
Meet their needs
After establishing trust, the next step is to figure out what the unmet needs of our inner child are. Whether that will be the validation of their creative ability, love and affection or even the support system they never had. By doing this, it lets them know that they are appreciated and given the proper healing they ever so needed.
This last step is the most important of them all as we should understand that the state of our wounded inner child is because of us. Our parents shouldn't be the ones to blame as they were and are still wounded children deep down. So accept your inner child as the unruly kids they are with no harsh judgement𑁋only love.
Photo by Naassom Azevedo
The truth is we had the answers to our problems this whole time, yet we tend to distract ourselves from it out of fear of never being good enough or the change that comes with it. The youths should act as a parent to their inner child providing love, discipline, acceptance, and support to form a mutual understanding or even a cooperative relationship towards one another.
For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child,
there lies the adult that will be.
𑁋 John Conelly, The Book of Lost Things
By James Chu