The cry we hear from deep in our hearts, comes from the wounded child within. Healing this inner child’s pain will transform negative emotions.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
We all have inner parts of ourselves. The inner parts of ourselves create our personality. We have many aspects of our personality coming from these parts of ourselves that powerfully influence every aspect of our lives. An example of these internal parts is when we say to ourselves or others, “part of me really doesn’t want to do that right now” and “another part of me does.” We might also make comments like, “part of me is frustrated with that” or “part of me doesn’t like that.”
Having multiple parts of our self does not necessarily mean that we have a multiple personality disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder), parts of ourselves that have to go to extremes, but instead a healthy personality. These parts of us have unique sets of memories. In fact, our life experiences are recorded in memory. When we have difficulties as adults it is often because our child parts of self are holding painful memories and experiences from childhood. These parts of ourselves need to be seen, understood, helped to heal in order to allow us as adults to live a more full life and to feel self-love.
Here are 5 ways that we can heal our inner child and increase self love.
1. Notice your inner child parts and bring curiosity towards them.
You can start this process by being aware of times when younger parts of yourself have been activated. They can be activated when you feel young, childlike or even small. This can happen during times of stress such as being in an argument with someone, or in times of joy when you feel playful or creative.
2. Take a moment and sense where you feel this younger part of yourself in or around your body.
You may notice a feeling, thought, sensation, physical pain, voice, etc. See if you can be open to letting this part of yourself show itself to you and letting yourself feel it.
3. Try and learn more about this part of you.
Inquire into that part of yourself. Ask what is its job in you and for you? Ask what it’s afraid would happen if it did not do its job? Ask it if it has a memory of when and why it was developed? Ask it if there is a trauma memory or a “bad memory” it wants to share with you? Ask it if there are any “good” memories it wants to share with you?
4. When in touch with a child part, ask it how old it is?
The answer may come in a number, a picture, a feeling or a memory of you in your childhood. Also you can ask this part how old it thinks you are.
5. Thank your child part for all it has done for you!
Show this internal part of yourself appreciation for sharing itself with you. Appreciate this part for helping you or protecting you in the ways that it did, even if you are no longer in need of the same protection now as you did when you were a child.
Another type of healing therapy to process the effects of trauma on these parts is called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).
Processing the trauma from our childhood allows us to embrace and heal from the past. The process of exploring and appreciating child parts of ourselves helps us to grow, heal form past hurts and to more fully accept “all of us”. Appreciating these parts with the understanding that “no part is a bad part” and that all parts (even the ones that bring us discomfort such as a critical child part or a hopeless or sad child part) all have good intentions and at some point helped us to get through or make sense of something that we experienced in life. Making time regularly to connect to these parts builds resiliency, greater internal awareness and increases self-love.
Lemecia Lindsey is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and a Certified EMDR Therapist and EMDR Consultant. She began her early counseling work in community agencies and schools, helping children and teenagers who were struggling with social, emotional and behavioral issues, and providing family therapy. Her desire to help children and their families with complex emotional issues led her to explore and later be trained in the most advanced therapeutic approaches for treating trauma.
To schedule an EMDR therapy session email or call Lemecia.