When we talk about trauma and healing, we often use the term “inner child,” which represents our childhood self. Our inner children are a part of who we are. We don’t leave them behind in the past as we get older. They stay within us. We carry their hurts and wounds with us. Our trauma responses are stored within our subconscious minds along with all of our emotional memory and information. When we’ve been traumatized, our emotional responses stay with us because our subconscious minds direct the majority of our thoughts and actions. We can work with our inner child to heal from our trauma.
First let’s try to visualize ourselves as children. Use any photos, journals, cards or other mementos you still have. Recall yourself as a child and really look at her. How does she feel? What is she thinking about? What are her relationships like?
Now let’s look at how she was affected by trauma. What happened, and how did she respond? How did the trauma make her feel? What patterns did she develop as a result?
Many of us started showing signs of our addictions, depression and other mental and emotional health issues early on as children, often soon after our traumatic experiences. Let’s look at these patterns. Have you continued them as an adult? What behaviors do you turn to when you’re feeling grief, anger or anxiety? What thought and behavioral patterns did you develop to cope and/or distract yourself from your pain? When did these patterns start? What coping mechanisms did you develop as a child, and are you still using them?
Sit with your inner child and talk to her. Meditate with her. You can also write her a letter or journal with her. She is a part of you. Reconnecting to our inner child helps us connect with our pain. Ask her what she needs to feel better. Maybe she needs you to comfort and reassure her that everything is going to be ok. Maybe she needs to know you believe in her and that together you’ll survive your pain.
Give your inner child all the love and nurturing you needed in childhood, that you may or may not have received. Trauma can derail our emotional growth. Working with our inner child, communicating with her and fulfilling her emotional needs is a powerful tool for healing.
The Riverside Community is here to help you explore healing techniques. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on how we can support you.