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Soothing Your Inner Child

Soothing Your Inner Child

As part of the Psychosynthesis Module in Year 1 of the Diploma in Holistic Counselling and Psychotherapy, the Inner Child is explored and I hope the following short article is helpful to your adventure with your Inner Child.

Charles Whitfield in his book Healing the Child Within writes “the concept called an Inner Child has been a part of the world for a very long time. Carl Jung called it the “Divine Child” and Emmet Fox called it the “Wonder Child.” Alice Miller and Donald Winnicott refer to it as the “True Self.” [1]

The Inner Child refers to that part of each of us which is ultimately alive, energetic, creative and fulfilled; it is our “Genuine Authentic Self”, who we know deep within us, our “Real Self.”

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Soothing Your Inner Child

Adapted from the booklet:

“Caring for the Child Within –A Manual for Grownups”[2]

“Getting in touch with our inner children is not always easy. At first it might seem that they just want to cry and cry. That’s natural. The parts of us that were split off at a young age had to go away for good reasons–abuse, fear, neglect, and misunderstanding. These young parts were not allowed to express their overwhelming feelings, so they took the feelings away with them.

When we invite these lost inner children back into our lives, we have to be ready for them to express a lot of distress. But what do we do then? How do we soothe the inner child?

First of all, it’s a process and it won’t get done all at once. You need to learn how to parent your own particular inner children. They will teach you what they need as time goes on. You will have to be just as patient as if you had adopted a real child with a troubled background.

Second, you need to take those feelings extremely seriously. “Soothing” the child does not mean saying, “There, there, dear. It’s OK. Stop crying.” You may have heard voices like that in your past, but your job is to be a different kind of parent, one who really listens to the child’s feelings. So the first part of soothing is to hear the feelings. The child might not be able to tell you why she or he feels sad or angry or scared. Your job is to pay attention to the feelings.

If you can, find a safe a quiet place where you can literally sit down and listen. Let the feelings emerge. Accept all of them, even though it is painful. If you can’t bear all of it at once, tell the child that you will listen for ten minutes, or five, or two minutes. Then promise the child to make another time later to listen some more.

As the feelings emerge, focus on loving the child who is entrusting you with these valuable and vulnerable emotions. Tell the child that you are proud of her or him for coming forth. Sometimes you may feel completely overwhelmed and inside the feelings, like you are being the child. That’s OK. If you can manage to stay in that place, try to do so. See if you can detect any shift where you might feel a little more like a grownup holding the child.

Here’s where the soothing comes in:

  • Value all those difficult feelings and validate them.
  • Let your body express the love you have for this child by holding a pillow or stuffed animal, rocking, humming, stroking, doing anything you’d do to comfort an actual child.
  • Trust your instincts on this. Let the child tell you what feels good to her or him.
  • Don’t let any critical voices tell you that it’s silly to rock and hum a lullaby. It’s not silly–it is valuable practice in loving yourself.

You will need to do this practice over and over as your inner child gradually learns to trust you.

Over time you will learn to be the caring parent that this child never had. You will share your future with the wonderful, free, and loving spirit that is your inner child.

Examples of some of the Children you might find inside are:

The Playful Child

That self that is naturally playful, creative, spontaneous, and fun-loving child. This self longs to play. Many of us have forgotten how to do this without guilt or anxiety that as adults we must be doing something that is worthwhile.

The Spoiled Child

That part of us wants what they want and they want it now, and if they don’t get what they want, they throw temper tantrums.

The Neglected Child

The child self that was always left alone, without much nurturing and love. They don’t believe they are lovable or worthwhile. They don’t know how to love. They are depressed and want to cry.

 The Abandoned Child

This child self has been left in some way like divorce or adoption or just left because the parents were kept busy working. They are always fearful that they will be abandoned again and again. This part of the self is starving for extra attention and reassurance that they are safe and okay. This self is very lonely.

The Fearful Child

This part has been overly criticised when they were small. Now they are anxious and are in panic much of the time. They need lots of encouragement and positive affirmations.

The Unbonded Child

This Inner Child never learns to be close to anyone. They are isolated. Intimacy feels alien and scary. Trust is a basic issue.

The Discounted Child

This is a part of the self that was ignored and treated as though they did not exist. They don’t believe in themselves and need lots of love to assist and support them.

These are all possibilities of the different Inner Children that might be inside. There are many other selves as well, perhaps the Ego self, or the self that holds shame, or the self that holds the information that was given to them by their parents or teachers or society as a whole.”

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As you can understand from reading the above, this is tender work so be gentle on yourself when working on your inner child in your personal therapy.

 

[1] Whitfield, Charles L. Healing the Child Within. (1989) Health Communications Inc., USA

[2] Rowan, Jane. Caring for the Child Within – A Manual for Grownups. (2011) Smashwords, USA

 

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