Are you a human being? Yes? And as a human being, have you ever experienced any pain, trauma, or fear as a child? Probably. And as an adult, do you sometimes get triggered by something that feels sort of deep-seated and somewhat irrational? Well, if so, welcome to being a person! Whether or not you had a dark childhood, or a fairly bright one, we’ve all experienced some form of trauma or fear as a little person. And we carry that wounded inner child around with us at all times, even if we are adulting like a goddess and holding down our shit! Well, I have an exercise that’s super easy and safe, if you are like me and don’t want to allow your wounded inner child to dictate your happiness as an adult.
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[I’m not a doctor or an expert and I don’t claim to be. I’m a human being with life experiences, and this is my own wisdom that I am sharing with you. I’m going to aim to give you powerful, anecdotal information from my personal experiences with healing my wounded inner child. And you can decide from there whether or not you want to give this a try.]
OUR WOUNDED INNER CHILD
Just a little bit about me and my wounds.
- I was raised by an alcoholic mother and experienced all the fear and trauma that goes along with that.
- From an early age, there was neglectful care being administered. For instance, my father can remember coming home from work to find my sister and I crawling around on the floor, in need of food and a change of diapers. But our mother had been passed out on the couch for hours, so we were just making do.
- As I got older, I was very present with my intense and almost debilitating fear. Fear that my mother would forget to put out her cigarettes and light the house on fire. Or, that if someone came to the door, I would have to deal with a stranger and put myself at risk. Fear that she would lose her job and we would have no money. Fear that she would die an early death and I would become an orphan. The list goes on.
- This fear and anxiety manifested into my proclivities to exert intense control over things. It was my way of managing the fear of my ultimate and seemingly inevitable, although slightly irrational, early death.
Anyway, enough about my issues. You get the idea.
OUR NOT-SO-WOUNDED INNER CHILD
Now, if you’re wondering about how this wounded inner child might apply to you, if you were lucky enough to not experience such extreme circumstances in childhood, here are a few thoughts.
You may have had a really lovely family situation. No trauma, and nothing too extreme. But, maybe you were painfully shy and insecure. And perhaps you were ridiculed or bullied in school when you were young. Or, maybe you never had any of that, but there was that one time when you choked on a piece of bread at dinner and almost lost your life. And now, to this day, you are still scared to eat certain things, for fear of choking. It could be anything, really. Again, as children, we are sensitive and actually pretty fragile. We’re teeny tiny and we depend on others to protect and care for us until we are old enough to do that for ourselves. But sometimes, shit happens, that our protectors can’t even control. And shit gets scary for us as a child.
Whatever that wound was, we often carry that with us into our adult lives. And sometimes, those untreated wounds wreak havoc on our ability to function as “normal” people.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE INNER CHILD IS ACTING OUT?
So, even if you can’t recall specifically what kind of trauma you have experienced, that’s okay. But if you ever find yourself behaving in a way that is more like your self as a 6-year-old, than as a grown adult, it’s something to pay attention to. And this is what this exercise can help with.
I speak more about this in my article, “Is Your Childhood Self Running Your Life?”
I often dipped into my little girl self in many areas of my life, without even realizing:
- Putting men on a pedestal and being terrified of them abandoning me, even if they sucked
- Being petrified (like feeling like my life was literally in danger) if certain things in my living space were not functioning properly
- Seeing a bug or a mouse!
If you find yourself freaking out about something in an irrational way, and you feel emotionally transported back to your childhood, this could be your inner child in need of some love and healing support.
Where did I come up with this?
I sort of came up with this exercise myself and was also inspired by a website I follow, which I won’t mention here because it’s affiliated with some things I don’t exactly align with. But, this website talks a lot about healing the inner child and creating a safe space to interact with this child. So, I’m not taking credit for this exercise, but I am going to share with you my exact personal experiences with it.
First of all, just know that this is completely safe and you are safe. You’re just going to go into your imagination for this exercise, and see where it takes you. No need to be scared or freaked out by this concept.
How to begin this exercise:
- Make sure you’re in a quiet and peaceful place and that you are completely alone. Make sure you will be undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. I always lie down flat on my bed and just get comfortable that way.
- Imagine a safe place in nature, or some other place where you feel completely yourself, comfortable, and happy. I have the same location for both my inner child work and my spirit guide communication.
- As you’re imagining yourself in this comfortable and safe place, gently ask your inner, smaller self to come and say hello. I usually say something in my mind like, “Little Libby, I invite you to come and say Hello.”
MEET LITTLE LIBBY
At this point, I am happy to share with you a bit about my Little Libby communication.
Whenever I have communicated with Little Libby, she has always been exactly the same. The poor little thing is around the age of 4 or 5 years old. She is wearing a pair of white shorts that are all dirty. Her legs are dirty and her shoelaces are untied. She is wearing a striped t-shirt that is also very dirty. She has a cute little pot belly, and dirt all over her face. Her face is stained wet with tears, and her hair is matted and in need of a combing. She is always incredibly frightened when she arrives, but also very needy and wanting to connect.
Just sharing this description of Little Libby gives me the feels. And you can see why this exercise is so powerful. The more detailed your little self becomes, the more powerful the healing.
I always assure LL that she is safe and that it’s okay for her to come and play, or to just snuggle. I have done this exercise several times, and every time is a little bit different. Sometimes, she just wants to sit in my lap and cry. Sometimes, she’s just so scared, I try to do things to distract and calm her down, such as hand her some flowers and have her count the petals with me.
The one thing I never do is try to clean her up or change her. Instead, I try to give her whatever she needs in the form of deep and loving attention and care.
As I interact with my small self, I can always feel my adult self become more empowered. I begin to realize how strong and capable I really am of taking care of this little being. And even though I can behave like LL when I see a mouse in real life, when I’m in this exercise, I want nothing more than to protect this little being. And a mouse to me is almost laughable. I feel like I have her back and I’ll do anything to protect her.
HOW THIS EXERCISE HEALS THE WOUNDED INNER CHILD
So, say you’ve been able to communicate with your little self and you’re feeling some feelings move around. How do you know if it’s “working”?
You won’t necessarily KNOW, so you do have to TRUST. However, every time I am interacting with Little Libby, I do feel quite emotional about how much love I have for her, and how much I want to protect her.
These feelings are hugely significant and massively healing. This little part of ourselves represents the parts that we have been ashamed of for most of our lives. That’s why my LL is all dirty and kind of a mess. For years, we may have stuffed those “dirty and shameful” parts of ourselves down, trying to be strong. And our little selves became incredibly neglected, overactive, and super needy. To the point where they kind of freak out to get our attention. This “freak out” comes in the form of our irrational fears or deep-seated insecurities, pains, or traumas.
When our small self is freaking out, the last thing we want to do is ignore her. She’s only going to get louder and more aggressive. And why would we want to ignore her? She’s a part of ourselves! So when we ignore that part of ourselves, there’s a massive amount of self-hate that we are perpetuating. And that gets us nowhere, duh. It’s like allowing a crying baby to just lay there and cry. Why would we do that? But that’s what we are taught to do, in order to grow up, be strong, and become fully functioning adults.
THE ULTIMATE HEALING
Once we tend to that part of ourselves that we’ve been wanting to hide, and that we are basically pretty embarrassed of, we become healed. Because when I tend to my Little Libby, I’m basically saying, I accept all parts of myself. Even the dirty, messy, pot-bellied, terrified, unstable, needy, fragile, and delicate parts of myself. And when I see those disgusting character traits in this adorable little helpless package, my heart can’t help but melt for her. And that ultimately means that my heart is melting for myself. AKA I’m loving myself in a way I never have before. And that is all that is needed to heal like a goddess.
Like true healing. We can’t get that kind of love from outside of ourselves. Outside love is great, but it won’t heal that stuff up. It just won’t. We have to learn to sort of re-parent ourselves. And this exercise is a great way to take us there.
WRAPPING UP THE EXERCISE
It’s kind of okay to stop this exercise whenever you want to. But I usually wait until Little Libby seems to be feeling better. It usually only takes a couple of minutes to either calm her down, or make her laugh. And once she gets out of my lap and goes off to frolic on her own, I know it’s safe for me to leave.
But, if you’re having trouble, or actually feeling things too intensely, it’s okay to bail in the middle. It might take some time, depending on your situation. You can always go back to this at any time and try again.
A BIT ABOUT TRUSTING IN YOUR IMAGINATION
I know these visualization exercises can be a bit off-putting to some. Or, some of you might just feel like they don’t work. Maybe you sit there and nothing comes to you. If that’s the case, it’s good to keep in mind that a bit of trust is involved in this process.
And know that there’s a difference between forcing thoughts, and letting them come to you.
Say you would like to buy a bigger home, but you have no idea where it is or what it will look like. So, say you sit down with a cup of tea, or maybe envision things in your mind before you go to sleep. You picture the shape of the house, the landscaping, the features the house might have, and what it might feel like to walk through the house. We do this kind of thing all of the time. This is basically daydreaming. And here, you are deliberately controlling your thoughts.
LETTING THOUGHTS COME TO YOU
Letting thoughts comes to you is a bit different. You are not forcing anything, and you are using more of your intuition. You allow images, thoughts, and ideas to come into your mind, and you don’t immediately judge them. Accept them with curiosity and openness. This can take LOTS of practice to distinguish this subtle difference, so be patient with yourself.
If you mentally enter into your your safe location at the start of meditation but nothing comes, even after you’ve waited, THAT’S GOOD! That just means that your little self might not actually be ready to emerge yet. Don’t give up and keep trying. Try a few more times. And if you get any kind of inkling of anything come to you, be sure to not discount it. Maybe your little self arrives in the form of an alligator!! Maybe for whatever reason, that’s the form it chose. So, it’s important to learn to trust yourself and the thoughts that come to you.
Let me know how this goes for you. It’s a bit heavy, I know, so this might take some time to even work up the nerve to try it! Remember, you’re completely safe. And wow, the amount of healing that takes place when you just get in touch with your small self, is really indescribable. You are worth it, so give this a try and let me know how it goes!!
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Woman and child photo by Anton Luzhkovsky on Unsplash
Baby Alligator photo by Jackson Jost on Unsplash