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How Can I Reconnect With My Inner Child?

Jessica Pontis, LCSW

Have you ever been in distressed and not know what to do with your emotions?  Maybe you wanted to scream, cry, throw a temper tantrum, lash out at someone else?  We’ve all had moments where we might not have known how to process our feelings, which might have resulted in behavior that was somewhat childlike.   It’s not uncommon for people to revert to a childlike state when stressed, sad, or angry, but it is our responsibility to connect with the parts of our psyche that are hurting. 

 Crystal Raypole explains how deep-rooted pain we experienced in youth can impact us later in life, “Hiding pain doesn’t heal it. Instead, it often surfaces in your adult life, showing up as distress in personal relationships or difficulty meeting your own needs. Working to heal your inner child can help you address some of these issues” (2020). Connecting with our inner child can be a profound healing experience that allows us to express and process emotions in a different, more constructive way.  Here are some ways to start connecting with and healing your inner child. 

Acknowledge their hurt. 

One of the first steps in connecting with and healing your inner child involves recognizing the hurt they experienced.  In adulthood we can often minimize the hurtful things we experienced as a child.  For us to heal we need to be able to validate our younger selves, recognize their pain, and show tell them you understand.  When we recognize and accept the things that caused us pain when we were younger, we can understand their impact and soothe ourselves in a whole different way.  

Learn how to play again. 

When was the last time you experienced childlike glee, the pure joy that comes from doing something for the first time?  As adults we may be too weighed down with the responsibilities of life to take a moment to find the pureness and joy that came to us so easily as children.  As simple as it sounds, playing can be one important way to connect with and heal our young selves.  If we give ourselves permission to be silly, carefree, with inhibition, we give ourselves permission to take a brief break from the very adult problems that sometimes overwhelm us.  Playing as an adult may not look the same as it did when we were children, but we can still find things that create similar feelings.  

Show your child-self compassion.

Reflect on your childhood for a moment.  Were their times when you felt you behaved in a cringe-worthy manor?  Or maybe you sometimes ask yourself, “Why did I do that?  It was such a dumb mistake.”  It’s easy to get frustrated with our young selves for not behaving in the way that we would as adults, but truly, is it fair to blame our child self?  We were kids, and we acted in ways that kids do.  It’s not fair to be frustrated with ourselves for not knowing how to react, protect ourselves, or behave differently, because we simply may not have known how.  Picture your inner child, let them know that you’re not frustrated with them anymore, that you understand, that they were and are worthy of compassion.  

Connect at different points of your life.

When asked to connect with our inner child we may limit ourselves to one specific moment in time.  In reality you can learn to connect with yourself at any point in your life where you feel the need for some healing.  This could be 30 years ago, a week ago, or an hour ago.  Allow yourself to give comfort and love to every part of you that feels in need. 

If you struggle to find healing and gentleness with yourself, perhaps connecting with your inner child can assist you in your process. If you feel that you would like to connect with someone to walk with you on this journey reach out to one of the licensed therapists with Symmetry Counseling.  You can reach out to us online at symmetrycounseling.com, or by calling us at (312) 578-9990 to set up an appointment.   

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