Blog | What is the “inner child”

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What is the “inner child”

Who we are today – our personality, the way we think, perceive, react, feel about people, situations, our world and ourselves is shaped by the experiences we have had – it’s a cumulation. Many times in life, the emotional impact of an experience can exceed our ability to cope with it at the moment – leaving it un-processed, un-integrated, unhealed – forming an “inner child” (IC) and contributing to the formation of negative beliefs, dysfunctional coping mechanisms and potentially warped understanding of ourselves or our relationships, influencing and often shaping core feelings like those of self-worth and being loved/accepted. Such experiences can then stay in our psyche as raw memories/emotions which are easily triggered by similar circumstances and influence us as adults in how we experience/cope with various stressors – as an adult or a child.
How many of us truly feel like we have the maturity and healthy emotional skills expected of someone at our current age when we are faced with emotionally triggering times? How often do we feel helpless, stuck, scared or abandoned and overreact or handle situations inappropriately when we should have and perhaps do ‘know better’? These feelings and reactions reflect the existence and influence of unhealed inner child experiences. All of us have multiple such experiences of varying intensities and impacts which contribute to the unique personality we have. An inner child can be of any age and the experience does not necessarily belong to early childhood only.
Inner child therapy refers to the field of working with core memories contributing to a person’s current and often long-standing patterns of thoughts, feelings and responses. Unresolved negative experiences are often the foundation of the dysfunctional/unhealthy ways of understanding and interacting with our inner and outer worlds - of how we feel about ourselves, our relationships and life situations even though rationally we often know better. We cannot change our history but we can change the impact of history by working through, repairing and healing those wounds therapeutically – helping people process, release and let go of the past, fulfil unmet needs and step into a healthier present self. IC healing is an essential element of core issue work across many therapeutic modalities like Schema therapy, Hypnotherapy, Regression, Tapping techniques (EFT) and so on, each with its own process leading to the goal of wholeness, integration and freedom from past baggage.