What exactly does it mean to “heal our inner child?” Is there literally a child living within us that we need to somehow find? And then what do we do when we find them? How do we heal them? It can all seem very mysterious and abstract, but inner child healing at its most basic level is simply the act of consciously working to repair our relationship with ourselves through the intentional practice of radical self-acceptance and self-compassion.
Three Key Aspects of Inner Child Healing
Cultivating Self-Awareness to Heal Our Inner Child
The very first step to healing anything is awareness. Why is self-awareness so important? Because without awareness of our patterns, we’re at the mercy of them. We have no conscious choice, we’re just acting and reacting, playing out old trauma.
Mindfulness meditation practices can be helpful in deepening our levels of self-awareness. Mindfulness is “awareness of the present moment with acceptance.” When we meditate we’re training ourselves to become more aware of our internal experience—which includes our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations—without reacting to it. We’re intentionally turning our attention inward and cultivating intimate knowledge of how our internal world works.
Self-awareness is a key aspect of inner child healing because accessing the part of ourselves that is able to remain grounded, calm, and compassionate, even while other parts of us are experiencing difficult emotions, is the foundation upon which all reparenting (healing) lies. It is this wise, centered Self that acts as our internal attachment figure. This is the part of us that soothes our "inner child" when they are feeling scared and alone.
Practicing Self-Compassion to Heal Our Inner Child
The second aspect of reparenting ourselves is self-compassion and self-validation. We need to become the loving, emotionally attuned parent we may have never had. As adults it’s our responsibility to heal ourselves and to parent ourselves. No one can do it for us. Once we begin to gain deeper levels of self-awareness, we can then start to validate our own pain. Validating ourselves is crucial, because this is what many of us did not receive as children.
Validation can look as simple as: Noticing we are feeling something difficult, and telling ourselves “I know you're feeling ____ right now, and that makes perfect sense given what you've been through. I’ll take care of you.” Or, “I know you're feeling ______ right now. It’s ok. I’m here with you.”
Yes, you're talking to yourself. Yes, it might feel weird at first, but showing up for ourselves like this begins to rewire our neural pathways and calms our nervous system.
Replacing negative self-talk and shaming (self-abandonment) with genuine compassion for ourselves is where the healing lies. With consistent practice over time we become the safe, loving attachment figure we never had.
Practicing Self-Care: Back To the Basics
Basic self-care practices are the building blocks of healing our connection with ourselves. Babies and small children rely on their mother, or other primary caregiver, to meet all their needs. Think Maslow’s hierarchy. The bottom part of Maslow’s pyramid, physiological needs, is the base that holds everything else up. When reparenting ourselves we need to go above and beyond to make sure our physiological needs are met consistently and mindfully.
These basic needs often get overlooked because they’re so simple, but remembering to, or even knowing how to, adequately feed ourselves and put ourselves to sleep can be difficult for those of us with early developmental/relational trauma.
- Good sleep hygiene: a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine. Cutting off screen time, caffeine consumption, etc. at appropriate times in order to allow for true rest to occur.
- Nourishing your body: following and respecting your body’s hunger cues—this will take practice, eating nourishing food that makes you feel good in your body, eating regularly throughout the day to keep blood sugar (and thereby, mood) stable
- Adequate Hydration: getting yourself a water bottle and carrying it with you throughout the day to encourage fluid intake (water drinking takes practice, the more you drink the more you want to drink)
- Safe, Nurturing Home Environment: doing what you can to make your home a place of rest and refuge. This means a place where you get to be and express your full self without fear of judgment, where you don’t have to walk on eggshells, or make yourself small.
- Moving your body: daily movement and fresh air. This can be as simple as a walk around the block or getting up and stretching a few times a day. If you’re someone who needs more vigorous exercise, making it a priority and scheduling it in.
Healing Our Inner Child Requires Openness and Curiosity
Just as deepening self-awareness and cultivating self-compassion are practices, strengthening our self-care routines is also an ongoing practice. All of these are made easier when we approach them with an attitude of openness and curiosity. What works for you? What doesn’t? What feels nourishing? What doesn’t? It’s all about openness and experimentation. There are no “rights,” “wrongs,” or “shoulds.” If you hear those phrases in your head, that’s just another thing to notice—”oh, hello there inner critic! Would you like to come in for tea?”
Looking For an Online Therapist in Kansas?
Ready to turn your attention inward and start showing up for your inner child? My Lawrence, Kansas counseling practice specializes in providing therapy for childhood trauma, therapy for anxiety, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for Highly Sensitive People, and grief and bereavement counseling. I help people overcome shame and the fear of being their true selves. Breaking the cycles of people pleasing and self-abandonment is possible, and I'm here to help.
I offer online counseling throughout Kansas. Reach out today to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation. I'd love to hear from you!
Other Services Offered by Maggie
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, I’m also a professional astrologer, and offer Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!