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  • Writer's picture Zalman Nelson - Therapist

Working With Your Inner Child

Updated: Feb 9

Working With Your Inner Child

Sometimes in a session, a client can be so intense and critical with themselves, so trained over the years to see the worst in themselves and be totally unforgiving – that I feel a need to be protective of them, from themselves.

It's like watching videos from their youth, seeing how the way they speak to themselves (which comes out in their communication) is a repeat of how they were spoken to when younger, and absorbed, and believe is totally true, as if there is no other reality.

Seeing the Inner Child

I see the Inner Child, and how they continue to treat their Inner Child the same way he or she was treated back as a 7-year-old kid. Why? Because it's familiar, feels reassuring because of that familiarity, and it's all they've known since they were a kid.

I'm really happy when they start being protective, caring, and compassionate looks like, and begin to be open to, and start to practice, more of that with themselves, on their own. But how do you get there? First, realize you have an Inner Child and then naturally you'll begin to develop a relationship with him, using triggered emotions in the moment to help you get to know him and his unmet emotional needs, so that you can be conscious and mindful of meeting them through your emotional and personal growth efforts.

Inner Child and An Adult Self

You have two parts: an Adult Self and a Child Self; an Inner Child. From this point forward, start thinking of yourself, your thoughts, feelings, needs and wants, words and actions, in terms of those two parts. The Inner Child is like 7-year-old you, and he's full of false beliefs that he picked up as a kid – and continues to desperately cling to – in response to the parenting he received, how you were raised, and the experiences of childhood, including friends and teachers in the school years. Until you begin to heal and work on your Inner Child, the dominant voice in your mind, and the source of your emotions, feelings, and reactions, is that kid part.

Your Adult Self is the other part of you. That's the voice inside you that sees the truth, that sees the evidence of who you really are, all you've achieved, and all that's great about you. Here's the challenge: all that evidence is pitted against long-held, false beliefs picked up over so many years as a kid, in response to your environment and interactions with parents, when you were young and very vulnerable emotionally. You were then super-absorbant, and actively seeking a sense of self. And to this day, those messages remain deeply embedded in you.

Inner Child Healing: Build A Relationship

But that part of you, that Inner Child, needs your work and healing efforts. He needs your Adult Self to build a relationship with him, hear and understand him by naming and accepting triggered emotions occurring in the present, and needs to hear your Adult Self's truth and reality, and his understanding of the facts on the ground. Your Inner Child tells you: 'I don’t feel successful or accomplished." It’s a question, begging for support. Meanwhile, your Adult Self sees you “constantly accomplishing things.” The two parts need to connect more.


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