As I sat down this week to do some inner child work, I searched for and found an image of my 4-year old self. She’s the easiest for me to access right now, and I believe it is related to my associating this time period of my life with joy, play, and freedom…qualities I am currently meditating on and manifesting more of.
After a bit of work, sending her loving affirmations and basking in her little laughs and sweet voice, I felt ready to do a bit of healing with my teenage self. Again, I searched for an image of her, 16-year old me. I couldn’t find her! My thinking mind wanted to swoop in. I started to get frustrated that I couldn’t do the “meditation” right. Then, I got sad that something must be “wrong” with her and that I couldn’t help her.
My teenage years were filled with much more trauma, stress, depression, and struggle than my pre-school or elementary years. I often felt disconnected from myself and my inner compass as a teen. Simultaneously, I felt far away from and in deep conflict with my parents, while also wanting so badly to know how to be close to them and them trying to get close to me. This was such a confusing time for all of us!
Have you found it challenging to visualize yourself at certain stages or ages? Do certain parts of your life feel more emotionally charged or challenging to imagine?
Inner child work is challenging! First, there is the patience and commitment it takes to sit down and do the practice. Next, there is the inevitable hurts that arise, and along with it, the healing that needs to be done over time. Therapists, coaches, and healers suggest reparenting, or being our own parents for our inner child and teenager. Through this powerful work, we have the opportunity to hold our inner child meet their needs, which directly impacts and heals our present self.
Readers have shared with me that when they sit with their inner child, they are in a lot of pain. Their inner child is one that is sad, crying, wounded, or angry. Like my inner teen, your inner child may still be searching for safety, a sense of worth, and to know they are lovable. This is where inner child work becomes transformational, the space of comforting and nurturing all of your Self.
Personally, I spend time in this practice naming the ways teenage me wanted to be seen, heard, and known. Sometimes, I let her share her pain and suffering. I sit with it, breathing and feeling. Some days there are tears, other days there is anger. Then, I visualize her receiving. I let her soak in all of the love, affirmations, hugs, and sunlight that she needs. If I can’t hold an image of her, like my experience last week, I get out a picture, and I might even talk directly to the picture, eyes open. Other times, I focus on the sensations that come up in my body and send love and comfort there, knowing that a part of me needs this healing.
What does your inner child need? How can you meet her needs?
Simple self-care practices are some of my favorite ways to keep healing each day, beyond inner child meditation. Over time, I’m sensing deeper the integration through this healing combination. For example, because teenage me needs to know that it is okay to take up space and that she has voice and agency in her life, I use daily rituals that support these truths. Your inner child or teen may need different repairs than mine, and I invite you to listen to what they need and how they want to receive.
Here are a few of the ways I support healing each day:
- Singing while getting ready and/or commuting
- Writing in a journal each night
- Using power poses
- Blogging and sharing my story publicly and vulnerably via social media
- Laying on the ground, spreading out in a way that feels safe and powerful
- Saying “no” when I know that’s what I need
- Asking for hugs and physical support
- Keeping an “awesomeness” journal of my highlights, wins, successes, and compliments from others
- Dancing– wild and free
- Naming my feelings and sharing them aloud with loved ones.
What can you do today to support your inner child’s healing?
Featured Image: Heather Gallagher Photography