You may have heard of the term “inner child” and wondered what it entails. In this post I’m going to tell you what this term means. I’m also going to give you ways to find yours and care for it too.
What is it?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of “inner child” is: “The childlike usually hidden part of a person’s personality that is characterized by playfulness, spontaneity, and creativity usually accompanied by anger, hurt, and fear attributable to childhood experiences.”
We all have an inner child whether we want to believe it or not. As adults, many of us have internalized feelings associated with being “childlike” due to many reasons.
One reason can be from the programming we received in society.
- Think about it, the school system teaches us to obey rules and not question the material taught or the way material is taught.
- (I’ll speak for public schools since that’s what I experienced as a child) In public schools we are forced to learn (and do well) in core subjects such as math, science and history. We had to pass standardized tests so our main focus was on memorizing information and answering questions correctly.
- Our creativity slowly diminished since we weren’t expected to think critically. Subjects such as art, dance and drama (you know, the ones that involve creativity) to this day are mostly electives that are offered on a rotation basis without a lot of importance.
- So the older we became and further we got in our educational career, many of us simply just learned how to test well and pass to get to the next step.
It’s not a surprise that many of us are left wondering what we actually enjoy as adults. Tangent aside, we all have an inner child inside of us consisting of subconscious thoughts and feelings gathered from our childhood.
How to find yours
It is never too late to find and embrace your inner child. It is waiting for you!
Some ways to begin reconnecting with it are by:
- Looking at childhood pictures of yourself. This will begin to bring childhood memories to light. You’ll not only remember what you looked like as a child but you’ll hopefully remember specific memories.
- Read your favorite children’s book. This should definitely bring back memories and feelings from when you first read it or had it read to you as a child.
- Interact with children. If you don’t have children of your own, next time you see a friend or relative’s children, have a conversation with them. Seeing or being around children can bring back memories of how you were as a child.
- Participate in “childlike” activities. This one might feel a tad silly at first but give it a try. Some examples of these activities are playing tag, jumping on a trampoline, swinging on a swing, etc. Other examples involving creativity are anything artistic such as painting, dancing or even singing. Participating in these activities can unlock qualities you hadn’t used in forever. They encourage less critical thinking and more spontaneity and playfulness.
Play around with these ideas. Start with the one that resonated with you the most and return to this list when you feel ready to try other ones.
How to nurture it
Now that you know what the inner child is and have reconnected with yours, you might have discovered some things. Maybe you recalled not so happy memories. If you’re a First-Gen like I am, unfortunately you might have recalled some straight up negative or traumatizing memories.
Some ways to heal or nurture your childlike self are by:
- Writing. You can write a letter to your childlike version. Acknowledge that part of you and the memories you have. Treat them the way you would have wanted to be treated back then.
- “Re-parent yourself.” Whenever your inner child feels triggered, you can literally talk to yourself with the love and care you desired to have back then. Sometimes all we wanted was to be seen or heard. Remind yourself you are now in safe hands and that you won’t let anything bad happen. Remember to be gentle with yourself.
- Relive moments. If as a child you always wanted that particular toy (Easy Bake Oven anyone?) Purchase it for yourself now. Why not? It should bring a sense of closure and joy. Or let’s say you truly enjoyed getting a Mister Softee ice cream cone with your mom on Friday evenings. Go get yourself that ice cream cone now to relive that loving moment.
- Work with a therapist. This option is always available especially if you had a difficult childhood. Working with a professional is the best way to heal from a traumatic childhood. Remember that there’s no shame in going to therapy. The therapist will guide you with the proper tools to address tough memories so you can work through them and thrive in adulthood.
Once you begin to nurture your childlike self, hopefully more and more ways will come to mind. This is a journey so begin by being a gentle observer and see where that leads you.
So there you have it. Now you know what the inner child is. You have some ideas of ways to reconnect with it and finally, you can begin to nurture or heal it también. One of my favorite ways to nurture mine is by keeping a small framed picture of my 6 year old self on my desk and talking to her here and there. It increases my sense of pride when I accomplish something because I feel like I’m doing it for her. I hope you learned something today. Your inner child will thank you!
Let’s work together!
- If you’re really ready to create the life you want
- If you want to increase your happiness and feel more confident in who you are
- If you want to trust yourself more and live on purpose
I can help you! Schedule your clarity call to work with me HERE.