All people on earth hold within themselves the essence of the children they once were. As you matured, regardless of your childhood experiences (good or bad) the adult part of you grew up, despite not getting everything it needed as a child. But the child-part of you did not die or disappear somewhere along the way. This child self of yours exists in your internal system. This inner child of yours symbolizes the core of your emotional self… The raw essence and vulnerability of your personal truth. In truth, people have many “inner children”. To understand more about this, watch my video titled Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease. But if we are looking at ourselves in terms of fragmentation, you can think of these many inner children as being organized into one box inside yourself that is labeled the inner child.
If you want to think metaphorically, the inner child is the box within your psyche that holds anything related to the child self. Things like innocence, play, wonder, suppressed desire and interests, curiosity, creativity, being in the present moment, honesty, imagination, emotions, traumas that belong to your childhood, childhood memories, the origin of patterns in your life, and even your pre-birth purpose. And those things are just the tip of the iceberg. Working directly with this part of you (and any of the parts that are inside of it) can go a long way in terms of healing trauma, ending dysfunctional patterns, getting in touch with your essence and personal truth, meeting your needs, finding joy and living according to your internal compass etc.
There are many different ways to work with the inner child. One such way, is to allow the inner child to write a letter to you at the age you are at right now. So, for example, if you are 32 today, your inner child is going to write a letter to you (as if he or she traveled through time to give it to you) at age 32 and today.
To do this exercise, get a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil and sit somewhere comfortable. From there, the best way to do this is to imagine that you are a method actor and, in this moment, you are only diving into the perspective of and becoming that one part of yourself, as if your inner child is the totality of you. Another way of thinking about this is that you are channeling only your inner child and allowing it to take over your whole body and awareness. You are going to spend some time getting used to it as if you are in a foreign being. Consider things like ‘What do I feel like?’ ‘How big or small am I?’ How old do I feel? Where do I feel like I am? Essentially, to begin with, you are simply becoming aware of it without asking it to express or questioning it.
From there, you can choose whether to let yourself (as the inner child) write or speak. Some people choose to record themselves doing this if they feel like speaking. In my experience, writing tends to work best for most people. If you have chosen to write and find it difficult at first to simply let the truth belonging to your inner child to flow through you, consider writing with the hand you do not usually write with. It doesn’t matter if it is messy. Your non dominant hand is more connected to your subconscious mind.
You are going to speak or write as the child self. And you are going to speak or write to your adult self that exists right here today. Keep in mind that some inner child parts are less communicative and verbal than others. Let whatever happens in this exercise happen. Don’t expect the inner child to be any certain way. Your inner child may be really angry with you or so distrusting that it is afraid to communicate with you. Conversely, your inner child may be full of love and joy and be supper communicative. What is your inner child’s current truth? What does it need to say or need you or others to hear? Let your inner child express as much as it wants. You may feel questions arise from somewhere deep inside you. You can mentally pose these questions to the inner child while you are still channeling your inner child. Things like “when did this start or when did things change for you?” Or “what would you need me to be doing differently than I am currently doing and why?” Any question that arises can help you to gain deeper clarity about your inner child.
Do this for as long as it takes to feel like the inner child has said all he or she has to say. And from there, given the information you received, come out of that perspective. If you feel stuck in that perspective, visualize a pearl sized, glowing white light beginning in your heart and begin to expand it, like you were blowing up a balloon. Imagining that as it expands, it pushes the perspective of the inner child to the perimeter of that light until that perspective “splits” sort of like a ripping seam. Then imagine stepping out of that perspective and turning around to pick it up and hand the energy of that perspective back to the universe at large.
If you feel inspired to do so as a result of what was communicated, you may choose to do a visualization involving your inner child. One of the best ways to do this is to imagine that your inner child (at whatever age you intuitively see him or her) is standing or sitting in front of you. From there, you do anything with the inner child that feels intuitively right to do. That being said, don’t forget to validate your inner child. Validation is the thing that most inner-child therapies or approaches seem to skip. Which is a travesty because it’s the most crucial step when we are doing inner child work. When we are working with the inner child, we usually rush to take the child away from the feeling, wanting to immediately make him or her feel better. By doing this, we send the message that the way they are feeling has to change because something is wrong with it.
Here is an example of how you might validate your inner child’s emotions. Let’s assume that the inner child expresses that it feels jealous because our inner child feels unloved, unvalued, and insignificant. We don’t instantly try to make our child self feel better or less jealous. Instead we validate the child’s feelings. Validating feelings is not the same as validating that they are correct in their version of truth, in the event that the validation of their truth will do them more harm than good. In other words, we don’t say, “You’re right; people don’t love you and they don’t value you”. Instead, we comfort the child and validate the child’s feelings by saying something like, “You’re right to feel this way because anyone who was in this situation would feel this way. It’s totally understandable how you could feel like people aren’t valuing you. It makes sense that you would feel sad. But I’m here with you no matter what. It’s OK that you feel this way. You have a right and a valid reason to feel the way you do.” Then we remain present with the child however he or she feels as a result of the validation.
Keep in mind that, on occasion, an inner child might actually need their version of truth (not just their emotions) validated in order to move forward. For example, if a child is being abused, but is constantly told by the perpetrator that he is just being given a bath in the places that he is dirty, this can create cognitive dissonance in the child great enough to be its own state of mental trauma. Therefore, during this step, we would also affirm that they are right in that they were actually being abused.
It’s natural to have a reaction to being validated when it finally happens, and usually the reaction is a good one. The child experiences a release and a sense of acceptance, and he or she can shift into an emotional readiness to move forward on his or her own into a solution. However, sometimes more painful emotions, such as sadness, come up. When this is the case, continue to validate those new feelings and remain present with those feelings as well. The point here is that you must be unconditionally there with the child, without needing the child to feel different than how they feel. This step of validation is not about feeling better; it’s about being with the child’s feelings. If you truly feel that you can’t do this for your inner child, then imagine someone who can doing it instead. For example, if you imagine that an angel can do it, then imagine the angel coming into the scene with you and comforting and validating your inner child instead. And from there, you can visualize meeting the child’s needs or resolving anything with the child that may need to be resolved based off of what was expressed in the letter.
Here is an example of an actual letter that was written by someone’s inner child to their adult self:
Hi Older Self,
I see that you have taken a lot of responsibility from what happened to us in childhood. You should probably stop. Like now. You are still doing this from a place of you are guilty which is your problem. I just want to have fun. You are living life with a bunch of consequences in mind and the truth is that it is not reality. You are suffocating me and only letting me come out when its safe or there won’t be consequences. STOP!!! STOP it!!!! You are being our controlling mother. I know what happened was scary and feels like it left an imprint but actually I’m perfectly fine. It was an experience, if we only stay on that experience that is the only thing we will know. ABUSE IS NOT THE ONLY THING I WANT TO KNOW!!! AHH!! I want to explore; I want to let myself dream because what is life without letting yourself have possibilities. You know what that is, it’s a stupid life. Honestly why even bother. You are not acting like you are out of abuse, come on. This fear of feeling like you are going to lose everyone that there is going to be a major consequence has you frozen in the biggest consequence, stuck in your past. I want you to ask yourself, what new thing could I create today? Everyday. As you can see, I’m a little frustrated at you because honestly you just seem like an old fart. Do something different. This is not who we are, we are fun, social, actually pretty outgoing and so not lame. You are like trying to move a mountain, impossibly stubborn. Enjoy people, you are too worried about losing them that you don’t even notice they are there. You know what I am done with the advice, do something new today, that’s it. And no one took anything away from you so the end.
Once you have done this exercise, given the information you received from your inner child, is there any resolve you may need to create? Are there any changes you might need to make? Do you have a need that you need to find a way to meet? Do you need to embody any of the suppressed aspects of your inner child in your adult life? Do you have any childhood interests you need to pick back up? To make the most of this exercise, make any changes that you need to make as a result of the information you gained by doing this exercise. And don’t forget that you can do this as many times as you want. Periodical check-ins go a long way towards the health of your emotional self. And the better your relationship is with your inner child, the better your life will feel.