Healing the Wounded Inner Child
Many of us suffer from having a wounded child within.
Imagine you become powerfully triggered by another’s behaviour, or a set of circumstances or even a particular thought/belief. Suddenly you feel threatened, or angry, scared or choked up with overwhelming emotion. You may project rejection, threat or judgement onto that other person or situation. Everyone’s response will vary. Some may become very angry, even lashing out in an attack. Others may try to shut themselves off from what’s happening; feeling choked up and silenced; unable to speak up for themselves.
These emotions seem to come from nowhere but they certainly have the power to overwhelm and utterly disconnect you from what’s happening right here, right now.
This is a typical response of a wounded inner child. An emotional bruise has been pressed and a wounded lost part of your younger self has reacted in pain. The inner child then becomes activated and momentarily takes over.
On your own, it’s very hard to recognise these patterns of response to life’s challenges. But the guidance of professional help can bring about great healing and transformation.
We are all at our most impressionable in the first 10 years of our lives. This means that any significant traumas that we’ve suffered during these years, leave a strong imprint upon us. To give a few examples:
- Unfair or extreme punishment
- Neglect – Parents or guardians are blind to child’s suffering
- Being blamed/made responsible for others’ actions
- Irresponsible parenting / teaching etc.
- Dysfunctional family life
Definition of a Wounded Inner Child
Throughout childhood, if we frequently have had to stifle and block the normal reactions of fear, anger or sorrow, these blocked emotions have had to go somewhere. As children we may never have felt safe enough to express them and so this very energy is then suppressed down inside our bodies into what are called Target Organs (those parts of our bodies that store and contain the tension, fear and/or anger of unexpressed emotions).
The blocked energy of unexpressed emotions creates a heavy burden on the physical body and often underlies serious illness in later life
Building Defences in an Unsafe World
If our outer environment is dangerous and threatening, we have to then build up inner defences to try to protect ourselves and remain safe. No child is able to properly deal with feelings of anxiety, confusion or rage. In stifling these feelings they then create armouring around the awful sensations of blocked energy within their bodies. For example if this could be literally put into words: “I feel angry and hurt but I’m not allowed to cry and I dare not get angry. So I shove the awful emotions away. I tighten my throat, tense my belly and hold my breath. I do all this in an attempt to remain quiet and unseen, because when daddy is drunk or mummy is mad angry etc, I need to stay out of the way or I’ll be in big trouble.”
Authentic Expression Denied
The child can never gain enough confidence to go out and explore their world because they never had a sufficiently safe environment from which to do this. This is beautifully described by Dr Gabor Mate. In order to be loved and accepted, a child will often compromise who they truly are in order to “fit in” with an older sibling or an abusive or emotionally absent parent. They compromise their authentic expression in many different ways becoming the:
- PLEASER – always trying to be the “good boy/girl; doing what’s right – making mom/dad happy. Doing chores, housework
- PERFECTIONIST – getting high marks in school, never failing at anything
- ENTERTAINER – trying to be the funny guy. Using an enormous amount of energy to entertain and “make them happy”. (Comedians often fall into this category).
- REBEL – the child who will react and rebel against what’s happening in the family. They usually feel that it’s better to be punished than to be totally ignored.
- INVISIBLE child who daren’t speak up in self defence, tries to melt into the background in order to be overlooked by their abusive parents/guardians. They’ll cry silently, alone in their room (if they’re even able to cry!)
Of course our wounded younger selves may have aspects of many of these above responses.
Our Inner Orphans
Our Wounded Inner Children consist of many layers of younger selves contained within our outer adult identity. Often people are completely out of touch with these inner, younger selves. For instance they’ve become unconscious of these lost parts of themselves which they disowned and pushed away years before.
Like lost orphans they are charged with explosive emotional pain. These wounded parts frequently sabotage our adult lives, causing us to overreact to certain trigger situations. We might then have inappropriate explosive responses that leave us feeling ashamed, angry, disempowered and even more misunderstood.
Growing up in a safe environment with loving parents, we receive lots of support and encouragement to overcome these trials. However all the people I work with grew up where the levels of stress in the family were way beyond their ability to cope. For instance, a child depends upon his/her parents to give them a sense of security in the world. If those very people on whom they depended were fighting, abusively drunk or behaving badly this can be utterly terrifying for a child.
Bringing the Inner Child into the Light of Awareness
Working with hypnosis, I repeatedly bring the lost child of the past into the healing light of the present. I encourage the adult to become the loving, empathic parent this child never had.
Profound healing occurs when a person makes a deep connection to their own inner child.
The beautiful spark of healing is ignited when they feel real compassion and love for this frightened, abused little child that was their very own childhood self.
When healing the wounded child within, I encourage my clients to let their younger selves fully express and release all the long held grief, fear, anger and pain that they had to stifle and block. This healing catharsis takes many forms. Some people feel heavy energy pouring out from their bodies. Others imagine their younger selves shouting and crying out their emotions instead of choking them back. In every case I encourage them to remain connected to the very sensations in the body – the original organs where these toxic emotions had to be stored. Great healing can then occur – emotionally and physically.
In conclusion, when people undertake this work they become increasingly aware of their destructive behaviour. They then set themselves free from all the negative projections and baggage that others inflicted upon them.
Many of my clients report a much greater depth of compassion and empathy with their own children. After all, when we connect deeply into who we truly are, we then have the ability to reach out and connect to others.