Many people are skeptical about the existence of the inner child. However, the inner child is a very real and very important part of psychotherapy.
While the inner child isn’t something that you can see and touch, it does exist within your psyche. It is the childlike part of you that experiences emotions in a big way and still sees things with wonder and innocence. However, for many people, the inner child doesn’t get the attention it needs. This is especially true for those who experienced trauma in their childhood.
How Can the Inner Child be Harmed?
The inner child is often injured in actual childhood. For some, the reasons for harm are obvious. Abuse and neglect can make people grow up too fast or develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. They never get the chance to nourish their inner child and find themselves constantly fighting against it as they get older.
Others may not understand the pain they feel. Instead, they find themselves denying their inner child instead of acknowledging and taking care of it. For those who aren’t in touch with their inner child or don’t know why their inner child is injured, therapy can be a useful option.
What Does the Inner Child Have to Do with Addiction?
First and foremost, the inner child is not logical. It is fueled by emotions. These feelings can be positive or negative, depending on the situation. As a positive, the inner child wants you to experience joy and keeps you curious.
On the other side of that coin, the inner child can also show itself when you’re feeling fearful, angry, or rejected. This can cause you to lash out or turn back to any unhealthy coping mechanisms you developed when you were young. Some of these coping mechanisms might include:
As the inner child tries to cope, it can cause you to fall into negative behavioral patterns like drinking too much or taking extreme risks. It does this to attempt to fill the void and alert you to the fact that there are still things that it needs.
Ultimately, suppressing the inner child makes addiction recovery and a healthy relationship with yourself complicated. To truly heal, you need to take the time to nurture your inner child and overcome any issues from your youth that are still weighing on you.
How Can I Begin to Heal My Inner Child?
To begin the healing process, you need to first acknowledge your inner child. Understand that it’s okay to have one and to need to heal it. Recognizing that you may have repressed feelings or issues stemming back to your childhood can feel stressful at first, but ultimately, it can be liberating to know the root causes of your pain as an adult.
Through therapy, you can begin parenting and taking care of your inner child. Some common ways to provide your inner child love include:
- Listening to your inner child and acknowledging any feelings that come up
- Providing yourself reassurance that you are worthy of love and self-care
- Being vulnerable with other people about your childhood experiences and how they make you feel now
- Practicing affirmations that make your inner child feel safe and protected
As you work through this process, you will develop healthy coping mechanisms and a better understanding of who you are and where you come from.
Healing your inner child is critical work during addiction treatment. At RAIN Recovery in Encino, CA, we believe in whole person recovery – mind, body, soul, and inner child included. To speak to an admissions counselor, give us a call today at (818) 208-9446 or contact us on the website.