Childhood can be filled with many wonders and joys, but it can also be filled with trauma. Children especially are more likely to be traumatized, simply because they have not yet developed coping abilities.
That trauma doesn’t stay in the childhood years, either; it lives in our bodies and underneath the surface of our consciousness, affecting and influencing our adult mentality and behaviours. That trauma can even be passed down to future generations by leaving a chemical mark on our genes, giving whole new meaning to intergenerational trauma.
Toronto-born and New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Chanelle Ramsubick works with clients who have experienced trauma, often in childhood, and to help them in their healing processes, she connects them to their inner child.
The inner child is a metaphor to describe the parts of our brain where our childhood memories are stored. It represents the child we once were, all the memories that are still in us and a part of us and that can still affect our behaviours and emotions. The inner child holds our capacity for playfulness, innocence, joy, and curiosity, and, on the other hand, also the accumulation of childhood hurts and fears.
Understanding your inner child is important, and will allow you to understand why you do the things you do—imagine how powerful that would be. A large part of becoming a healthy adult and having healthy behaviours is about acknowledging, loving, and caring for your inner child.
Here are five ways in which you can start connecting to your inner child.
Feed your inner child.
What made you happy as a child? Awaken those little joys from your childhood. Connecting to favourable childhood memories will positively impact your mental health.
Remember emotions are important and healthy.
Hold space for your emotions. Assess where your feelings originate from, acknowledge the way emotions make you feel, and express them without shame or guilt.
Bridge the gap and uncover your conscious mind.
Healthy adulthood requires acknowledgement of your inner child. Explore your consciousness, seek to recognize patterns and make connections to build better self-awareness.
Honour your trauma.
Acknowledge, prepare for, and commit to the healing process. Understand how your trauma has manifested without justifying current trauma-based behaviours.
Journal for a clearer mind.
Clear your mind and write freely. Stream of consciousness writing will allow your consciousness to be expressed candidly as your seek out connections between your thoughts and childhood experiences.
Looking to learn more? Here are some additional resources.
Read more about inner child healing.
A New York Times article on inheriting trauma.
A meditation to heal your inner child.
Journal prompts for writing about and uncovering your inner child.