Your Inner Child is that part of you who lives in the subconscious mind and has the original emotional needs and feelings from childhood. He or she is the one who is magical and playful, and is the child who may have unmet needs and denied feelings.
Many things can affect a person’s childhood and/or adolescence. Traumas such as war, physical & emotional abuse and neglect are a few.
Children express their basic needs for love, affection, play, food, companionship, etc.
Feelings are a way of expressing our personal needs and when we are told as a child to suppress those feelings, we are made to feel ashamed, guilty, unloved or unacceptable.
According to David Quigley, director of the Alchemy Institute of Healing Arts in Santa Rosa, CA, author & creator of Alchemical Hypnotherapy (which works with archetypes such as the Inner Child), if certain basic needs remain unmet in one of childhood’s developmental stages, they carry over unmet into the next stage. They remain as a residue of immature feelings and emotions in the subconscious mind. The results are behavior disorders and complexes, including addictions. We then have sub-personalities, and our capability for creativity, power and intimacy are lessened. Our feelings then are no longer an appropriate response to our environment, and exhibit themselves as reactive responses.
We can identify and heal those wounded parts of us that hold us back in our adult life. Our Inner Child gives us the opportunity to re-live our childhood in a new, healthy, constructive way that meets the needs of those repressed parts of us, and restores us to wholeness.
Most of what I'm discussing in this article I learned in my Alchemical Hypnotherapy classes with Debbie Unterman at the Alchemical Hypnotherapy Association of Atlanta, in Atlanta, GA.
There are three parts to the Inner Child:
1. The Magical Child – the part of the child who had never been wounded or damaged by words, physical, mental or emotional abuse. This child is the perfect child who came into this world with a clean slate, so to speak. This child can be a potential Guide for healing.
Ask yourself, “What do I like about my Inner Magical Child?”
2. The Adapted Child – the child who will adapt to its environment and to the adults in his or her life. We have all had to adapt in some form or another during our childhood. Children seek approval, and we are labeled early as either a “good” girl/boy or being “bad”, or as being hyperactive, a slow or fast learner, immature or mature, smart or average, etc. We learn to survive and to receive approval as children. According to David Quigley, many adults act primarily from the position of the adapted child trying to survive.
Ask yourself, “What ways have I learned to please my parents, to survive and/or to hide my feelings as a child?”
3. The Wounded Child – the child who has been wounded during childhood, and who has not completed the developmental parts of him/her for that period in their life. Sometimes the memories of a particular period in time may be suppressed due to emotional pain. This child still lives in the subconscious mind, directing and orchestrating dysfunctional aspects of their personality. This child is waiting to be cared for, loved and nurtured, hoping its needs will be met. There may be more than one wounded child from different periods of time.
Ask yourself, “What am I afraid to know about myself?”
Erickson & Bradshaw’s Stages of Development:
- Infancy (first year) = trust of the world; hope; the power of being okay. The child should feel unique and lovable. Adult Dysfunction: mistrust, unresolved neediness, narcissism, co-dependency, addictions, deep feeling of not being okay.
- Toddler (1 to 3 years) = autonomy, will power, limits & good boundaries, feeling, “it’s okay to be imperfect”. Adult Dysfunction: shame & doubt, fear of change, fear of abandonment, lack of self-discipline, all or nothing extremes, rigidity, lack of boundaries, perfectionism.
- Preschool (3 to 6 years) = independence, sense of purpose, using imagination, loves learning. Adult Dysfunction: guilt, controls feelings, very rigid, intimacy problems in relationships, feels responsible for other people’s feelings.
- Early School Age (6 to 11 years) = capability and competence along with the power of knowing and cooperation mark this stage of development. Adult Dysfunction: feeling inferior, competitive or uncomfortable in groups; procrastination, fear of making mistakes.
- Adolescence (13 to 18 years) = establishes personal identity; breaks away from family dependence, peer group identification. Adult Dysfunction: confused, drifting and lack of identity, over identification with peer group, lack of self-discipline, destructive lifestyle.
- Young Adulthood (18 and older) = establishing and pursuing a career, learning to care for others, establishing a family, serving a greater purpose in the world. Adult Dysfunction: the unmet needs of earlier stages carry into adult life keeping a person trapped, emotionally immature and unable to progress into “adulthood”. Abusing others, depression and being unable to deal with situations constructively are only some of the outcomes of a childhood where certain needs were lacking.
Even though it may not be your fault that you had unmet needs during childhood, you can take responsibility for your life. You can go back in time, get in touch with your Inner Child and re-parent that child within. Nurture yourself….
How our feelings become repressed and turn into inappropriate behavior or emotional reactions:
Most children take things very literal, and even though parents may not realize they are doing harm with the words they say, children may feel that their feelings are wrong and that they should be repressed, ignored or denied. Our parents have their own traumatized emotions, and will sometimes say things in a way that “programs” their children. For example, a parent may say, “Children should be seen and not heard”, or “It’s absurd to feel that way”. Denial of feelings can sometimes lead to depression and anxiety, immune disorders, pain, tension, obesity and disease.
One way to change your “programming” would be to identify any false programming you had while you were growing up, and create an affirmation that you recite often. For example, if you felt that you couldn’t do anything right, or you were labeled as the dumb one in the family, you might say, “I’m smart and I have confidence in everything that I set out to do”.
Exercise: You can make a timeline from pre-natal to your present age. Draw a line across your sheet of paper with dates/ages intersecting the line:
Prenatal / Birth / First Year / 1 to 3 Yrs / 3 to 6 yrs / 6 to 11 Yrs / 13 to 18 Yrs
Fill in the areas where you know or think your basic needs were not met. You have one wounded child for every major trauma or neglect that you experienced in your life. You basically remain at that age until the wounds are healed.
Debbie Unterman, my Alchemical Hypnotherapy teacher once said in our class,
“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible”.
A ‘complex’ is a collection of emotionally charge memories, irrational feelings, beliefs and behaviors around a particular area of your life. A complex may be experienced emotionally, or as a tension/pain in the body and may lead to physical illness.
Exercise: List two or more complexes that are important to you. (Ex: you don’t like the shape of your legs or nose; you get nervous in social situations; you have an irrational fear of something). Note any traumatic experiences that may be associated with these complexes. Now state a solution to these complexes as a positive goal (Ex: “I feel confident when I’m faced with____________”).
Another great statement by Debbie Unterman…
“Clarity Leads to Power”.
Having clarity, and understanding the true nature of our shortcomings enables us to make changes and overcome them.
I hope this meditation is helpful, and if you ever have any questions, please feel free to send me an email at Marilyn@LightHealer.net
Marilyn Cramer is a Medical Intuitive, Reiki Master Teacher, Somatic Healer, Mental Coach, Thought Field Therapist, Angel Communicator, writer & editor.