WHAT IS INNER CHILD WORK?
Inner Child work is incredibly empowering as it gives you a tangible method for Self Leadership; a practice to re-connect with your creative, authentic nature to gain self-fulfillment; and heal wounds from the past by gently processing them in the present.
reconnect with yourself
In childhood we learn ways of 'showing up' in the world to be liked and approved of, in order to feel safe, accepted, and loved. Feeling connected and loved is a human need. If we don't feel connected with our brain triggers a threat to our actual survival.
Therefore, in order to feel safe and connected, we form fears and beliefs about ourselves (programming) from cultural norms, family expectations, and "should's." However, some beliefs and fears end up being maladaptive and over-protective.
Our 'programming' of what we 'should be' takes precedence over our genuine, unique, intrinsic nature and core aspects of our personality.
This creates layers of maladaptive protective strategies ('Protectors') that work hard to exile, hide, deny, and over-protect aspects of ourselves that are deemed unacceptable.
“We did not come into this world loathing ourselves or wishing to numb our feelings. As small children, we operated from a place of wonder, curiosity, spontaneity and creativity.”
Christopher Dines, Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way
Protectors exile aspects of your true nature as "too playful," "too dreamy,"too silly," too naive," "too loving," "too curious," "too soft," "too caring," "too passionate," "too unique," "too ferocious," "too angry," "too hopeful," and more.
Protectors are also blended with beliefs about who and what is safe and what isn't. They work hard to "keep you in line" with shame and fear, chain you into your "role," stake claim on your identity and even your sense of worthiness and self-esteem.
Our Inner Child and our Protectors remember all the times we felt embarrassed, rejected, ridiculed, alone, humiliated, shamed, rendered powerless, etc. And times we felt emotionally overwhelmed or powerless, whether from abuse, loss, bullying, teasing, failing, rejection, neglect, heartbroken, abandoned (real or perceived)
They also over-protect you by forming subconscious, all-or-nothing beliefs: "no one can love you," "people can't be trusted," "no one is safe," "everyone is disappointing," "helpful people are manipulative," I must over-give to feel safe and loved," - and many other core beliefs.
“Our task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the
barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
loss of self
Exiling our our genuine "emotional-self" and aspects of ourselves may work to prevent pain in the short-term - however we quite literally lose ourselves in the process - which is "self-abandonment." We also form patterns of avoidant or anxious attachment, and getting and protecting behaviors in relationships.
Inner Child practices provide a tangible, tactile road back to yourself, so you may balance your Protectors, reclaim your Exiles, along with your true nature, and enjoy the benefits of self-fulfillment, unconditional self-love and self-actualization.
Since the cognitive distortions, Protectors and Exiles are within the "emotional" part of our brain, we need to connect to Inner Child with Wise Mind in each moment (mindfulness). Otherwise we end up "mindlessly" reactive.
"Inner Child holds the key to emotional well-being, recovery from addictions, intimacy in relationships, creativity and wisdom.
Lucia Capacchione, PhD