Raising children often brings up memories of our own childhoods. There are experiences that are both negative as well positive memories from childhood. For many people, remembering the positive can be difficult if they were exposed to neglect, abandonment, abuse and disregard for their very existence. If a child is forced to abandon that very nature that nurtures them so that they can “fit” into the norm and not be celebrated as a unique and amazing person of difference- which I believe is true of each one of us- it leaves the child feeling worthless, alone and unfulfilled.
And as we are confronted with these memories that have been programmed into automatic responses from which we have survived, is it time to bring a new perspective to the memory as well as to the response we created to sustain us?
At times when I feel nervous about a new situation, I can immediately go into having a full-blown stomach ache that almost disables me. It takes me back to being 5 or 6 years old and how I often felt about going to school. At the time, the stomach ache worked for me as it allowed me to stay home from school and feel more secure. One would question how well that truly worked, but in the mind of a 6-year-old, it truly worked! As my life progressed into adulthood, these stomach aches would occur with much intensity and yet upon medical testing, nothing appeared to support a cause. Then came the day that I awakened and began to ask some different questions about this.
How old am I being, when these stomach aches occur?
For me, I immediately got the sense of being 6 years old and being in school. I then recognized that it was my 6-year-old self that was running my life. I was still connecting to the same fears that I had as a child confronting new situations, peer judgement, and performance anxiety. And gratefully, my body was letting me know it.
Each person has their own reactions that have been programmed from issues that were experienced in their younger years. Many of those experiences did not lend to having a happy, prosperous childhood, nor do the continued reactions they have contribute to living a happy adult life with or without kids. So how does one go about parenting this child within?
The first step is to recognize your inner child and just like any child to approach with love and understanding. Even though a person may not get what they need as a child, it is not too late to nurture and love oneself. This is not about dwelling on what we didn’t get or blaming our parents; it is about what we can give ourselves now that will bring more peace and joy to our lives today.
Many of these childhood experiences affect our emotional, physical and mental well-being, the greatest detriment being our sense of worth. If a person doesn’t feel that they are worthy, it may be a challenge to take the steps to connect with the inner child and reparent it. Perhaps knowing what the benefits are will help to motivate and encourage:
1. Be willing to connect with your child within.
Trust that this will begin the healing process and that your child is waiting for you. Each time your inner child takes over your life, it is asking you to step in and re-parent. If you are a parent, until you do so, recognize that when your inner child takes over, and you are parenting, it is having a young child parent your children from a place of need and demand.
For some, this process may be best done with a professional who can support and guide the process.
2. What were you like as a child?
Reflect on how you felt, what you liked, disliked, and what did you enjoy doing, what were your dreams? Can you see your younger self? What would your younger self like you to know?
3. Invite your inner child to come out and “play”.
Together you can do something fun that you either enjoyed doing or always wanted to do but didn’t get to. Maybe it is swinging, dancing, playing ball, or climbing a tree. Imagine your doing that together and having fun.
4. Invite this part of your younger self into your present life.
Connect to the fun and enjoyment of being younger and begin to make more choices that allow you to choose those things that you used to think you missed out on but can now bring into your life. If you have kids, you can play more with them and learn from them how to have more fun, be more humorous, and laugh more.
5. Inquire as to what your inner child needs.*
This can be done by asking your younger self what happened as a child that left them feeling unloved, unworthy, afraid, doubtful or angry. What was needed that didn’t that they didn’t get from their parents or others? What was imposed on them that they weren’t able to deal with? While you still carry the pain of this inner child within you, it is not who you need to continue to be. You can begin to see that you are more than this, you can let your younger self also know that they are okay and that you are here and that you will give them what they need and together you will be stronger.
*For some, this process may be best done with a professional who can support and guide the process.
6. Make every effort to nurture yourself and give yourself the love and gratitude that you truly deserve, just by being alive.
This may be the hardest work you have ever done, and it will be the most rewarding as it will enhance your life to greater awareness of who you are and what you are truly capable of being and doing that you weren’t before connecting to your younger self. You will need to change old patterns, old beliefs and take on the truth as it is- you are worthy, you do matter, you are valuable, and you do deserve to be happy. Nothing can take that away from you if you hold firm to who you be. My own work with this has been helped using energy work (Access Bars, Acupuncture, Tools of Access Consciousness) as well as training my mind to let go of those lies. I use questions to bring me to greater possibilities. Others have received results from tapping techniques, affirmations and meditation. Ask what will assist you and choose and keep choosing until you receive the shifts you are looking for. Don’t give up on you, the child within is counting on you.
Today, I don’t experience the same stomach issues. At times when I do feel it coming on, I connect with my younger 6-year-self and recognize where I have fallen away from being connected, having more fun, choosing things that bring me joy. I also remind myself that I can handle any judgement that may be expressed, that it doesn’t matter what others think and that I am worthy of being true to myself. I check and acknowledge that I need not be afraid. And then I take my younger self and we go have ice cream and giggle at how silly we can be.
This episode of Be You Parenting gives more insights and ideas for Parenting You Inner Child.