Many of us have an ”inner child” or an “inner younger part” who has not been heard, seen, or treated in a healthy nurturing way. As a result, whether it is an inner child, adolescent, or younger adult, feelings of being ignored, abandoned, or not loved may be retained. The memories of these unresolved feelings are carried into our adult life and often become buried in the subconscious. However, the “inner younger part” remains waiting to be found, to be listened to and to be nurtured, and keeps acting out in attempt to be discovered and attended to.
Anna described having a deep sense of loneliness and depression. As she was searching for the answers to where these feelings originated, she used a visualization technique to contact her “inner child” and received an image of herself when she was nine years old. Her little girl was feeling lonely, bored, and sad while waiting in her room for her mother to arrive home from work. However, because her mother was wrapped up in her own worries and fatigue she had become blind to her daughter’s needs. During this time “little Anna” came to a few conclusions about herself, her parents, and the world around her. One conclusion was that she had to stay busy to distract herself from her pain. The other decision she made was to please her mother as much as she could in hope of getting attention and being loved in return. A pattern of having to please everyone and staying busy had been ingrained in her mind and remained with her to the current day. She eventually forgot where these habits came from.
Anna decided to communicate with her “inner child” on a regular basis. Building a connection with her inner child took time and trust but after a while they both formed a beautiful relationship. Finally, little Anna was heard and was able to express herself. Although Anna’s childhood did not change, her habits and perceptions altered because she recognized that her habits were simply coping techniques that were formed in the past and had no functions anymore. As her relationship with herself improved, so did her feelings of lonesomeness, her relationships with others and the world around her changed in return.
Depending on a child’s age, he or she does not always interpret their environment and parents’ actions correctly. When uniting with the inner child, false memories can be uncovered and give the child a chance to understand and make sense of something that was misunderstood in the past. For example, a pregnant mother told the story of her 4-year-old daughter Sophia who believed that she no longer was needed because her sister was going to be born in a few months. In a straightforward way Sophia claimed that it wouldn't matter if she died. The surprised mother told Sophia that it would matter and that she is the best thing that ever happened to her. Her daughter replied "but you have Mikaela now," to which the mother explained that Mikaela could never replace her and that she could love both of them. Children are not always able to make sense of their situation the way an adult can and therefore sometimes form beliefs that are not based on reality but their conceptual ability.
Many leading authors such as John Bradshaw, Erika J. Chopich and Margaret Paul, Whitfield and 12 step programs have written about the importance of building a relationship with the “inner child” and found that it can help with many issues including loneliness, fears, depression and raising confidence. The journey of discovering younger parts within us can be surprising and awkward at first but may also be very rewarding.