When I first started therapy, every time I heard the words "inner child" I wanted to puke. First of all, the only memories I have from my childhood aren't really memories. They are home videos. I have no idea how I felt as a child, and I certainly didn't care to do so. I wanted to put all of that in the past. After all, could my so-called "inner child" really play that big of a role in my life today?
Well, as it turns out, she does. Sometimes, my inner child takes over, and I become an emotional four-year-old who can't control her own life. After years of therapy, I finally learned why it was so important to connect with that scared little girl.
4 Reasons Why You Should Learn to Connect With Your Inner Child
1. It will increase your self-awareness.
For a long time, I didn't even know my inner child was relevant because I didn't understand how she played a role in who I am today. However, when I started to work with a trauma therapist on this, it was like opening this portal to a new place I didn't even know existed.
Whenever I felt insecure or afraid, that was my inner child. I'm a grown. successful woman, who has no reason to feel scared of standing up to others. However, as a child, I wasn't allowed to have an opinion. As a result, I turned that viewpoint inwards and stopped allowing myself to be assertive.
Once I was able to identify that the fear stemmed from my inner child, I was able to soothe her, and tell her that everything is okay, that "I got this." Although I haven't perfected this art, when I do soothe my inner child, I am set free from the fear that holds me back. Gaining that self-awareness was the first step I had to take to start healing.
2. It helps you heal.
Although I love my parents, I do have to acknowledge and admit that they are human and made mistakes. Similarly, they were doing the best they could while raising me. I constantly have to remind myself of that. Unfortunately, simply being aware of this doesn't take away any of the pain or trauma from my childhood.
I let that pain fester for far too long. It has caused me to sit it resentments, become a victim, and be held hostage by my own sadness.
Fortunately, when I did begin to connect with my inner child, I could be compassionate to the wounds she had suffered from. I could nurture her and help her heal. In turn, the healing of my inner child enabled the healing of myself as an adult.
3. It is empowering.
When I am no longer run by self-doubt, insecurity, and a million forms of fear, I am able to be the courageous woman I am today. By connecting with my inner child, I can take control of my emotions and stand up for myself when needed.
In the past, I coped with my trauma by using drugs and alcohol. It progressed into a near-fatal addiction that turned my life upside down and caused more trauma, as it usually does. This allowed me to play the victim role. I could look at others and say, "well, if this happened to you, you would drink/use, too.'"
Today, I don't have to be a victim. As my therapist always said, "that is no way to live." Instead, I am a woman who has a voice, values, opinion, and self-worth.
4. It enables you to connect trauma with behaviors in order to change your behaviors.
Due to my childhood experiences, I was always afraid to speak up for myself. I thought that my emotions were overdramatic, my opinions didn't matter, and that everything was my fault. Once I recognized that these thought patterns induced unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms, I began to change the way I acted.
Now, when my emotional security feels threatened, I can recognize that it is my inner child and that my inner child is not who I am today. This didn't happen overnight, it happened through years of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), but it was completely worth it.
I now know the importance of self-soothing and identifying emotions rather than avoiding them. It's made me a happier person today.
The Lesson I Learned
Although I've learned a lot of things in sobriety, the most important lesson is that the things that make me uncomfortable are the things that cultivate the most healing. The biggest thing that has allowed me to heal and to develop a happy life is by connecting with my inner-child. She went from being a girl I barely knew, to an important and driving factor in the person I am today. My emotional childhood trauma no longer as to run my life - instead, I get to run my life.