To be totally honest, all of the never-ending inner child talk floating around in self-help-y, therapy, and spiritual spaces made me roll my eyes a teeny bit in the past. It felt like another beige and pink social media square buzzword, right up there with “self-care” and “yoni eggs.” That is until I really tried connecting to my inner child, and seeing how much wisdom she had to share.
It made me a believer. It connected so many dots. And, it is directly linked to protection magic.
Let me explain.
Your inner child contains the parts of you who had needs that weren’t met.
The innocent little one who didn’t feel seen, heard, or acknowledged.
Our inner child is also connected to our natural gifts and unique brilliance.
How safe we feel, and how our inner child feels, are directly related to how much we share our brilliance with the world. It is the foundation of our ability to trust.
How we manage to get our needs met is also linked to safety and protection, because if we don’t learn how to get our needs met in loving ways, we’ll confuse attention with love, intense emotion with care, and push/pull behavior with just how things are. We’ll keep over-giving, overcompensating, and over-initiating in relationships that aren’t reciprocal.
It’s all because our inner child is seeking love, validation, and approval in the ways they know how.
Think about it: if you were raised by emotionally unavailable people, you might just become emotionally unavailable yourself. (Any other disorganized attachment styles in the house? I love you, babe. But, you know, not too much. As much you want to be loved, or if not, you know, that’s cool too. No worries!)
If you were raised by people who had dysregulated nervous systems—that were shut down or activated—your nervous system might have conflated a dysregulated nervous system with safety because it was the norm. And so, we repeat these patterns, feeling less and less safe each time, not really sure why.
That part of you—including, but not limited to, your brilliance and gifts—needs to feel safe and supported. Learning how to feel safe, supported, and resourced in mind, body, Spirit, and nervous system, helps our younger parts integrate.
Healing Your Inner Child To Build Trust with Yourself
For many of us, our younger self is a very wise, very knowledgeable part of ourselves. It’s where we play, explore, and access joy. All imperative aspects of protection magic!
One of the reasons I felt so meh about inner child work—other than the fact that I’m a loner Dottie, a rebel—is because it felt so abstract.
So, here are some easy ways to tell if you’ve got an unintegrated inner child, and how to start tending to that part of you in real-time. That is how you gain trust, and how you feel safer advocating for your needs and brilliance, aka reparenting.
Signs You're Dealing With An Inner Child Wound
An unintegrated inner child can look like a change in voice. When I got whiny, changed decibels, or spoke in a different manner than usual was when I realized a younger aspect of me was expressing itself.
It was pretty wild to notice this!
See if you have a similar pattern: it might not be around asking for needs, maybe your voice changes around something else that harkens back to the younger you. This is a call for inquiry and nervous system support, not judgment, btw.
Another sign that your wounded inner child might be running the show is having big feelings or outsized reactions to smaller things. That part of you needs soothing and support. Especially if those big feelings are about the themes of ownership and belonging.
Your inner child might be an inner teenager, or an inner young adult, as well. Use your intuition and see what feels aligned for you.
An easy way I have been able to support and advocate for my inner child is by simply imagining a baby with me.
Do I want her to hear me being spoken to like this?
Do I think her witnessing this, or feeling this kind of energy?
Would baby me—or child me, or pre-teen me, or teen me—be having fun or enjoying this?
It’s been a really great filter in terms of noticing what I’m feeling called to do, and what I can no longer tolerate.
There are hundreds of ways to reconnect to your inner child so that over time, you feel safer and more protected.
First, ask yourself:
Does your inner child trust you?
Think of what feels fun for you, and do it.
Meditate with your inner child.
Write letters to your inner child.
Listen to messages from your inner child.
Acknowledge what they need and want, and tend to those needs and wants.
Start slow, start small, and start where you are.
Communing with our inner child and integrating some of those aspects of ourselves so we feel more protected. Healing your inner child is one plot in the garden of joy, wisdom, and creativity. By integrating your inner child, you plant those seeds.