The term ‘inner child’ is not something that can be easily understood. It is somewhat hard to relate to and even harder to be taken seriously.
So then; what is the inner child? I see the inner child as a combination of childhood memories and these appear to primarily exist just above the stomach. And like any childhood, these will be a combination of happy and unhappy memories.
This will include certain needs that were not fulfilled and there is also likely to be certain traumas that were experienced. These two factors will affect how the inner child behaves in the present day.
In Present Day
When the needs and the traumas of the inner child have not been looked at or processed; ones present day life will be affected.
This can create ones behaviour and what one desires from life. The kind of relationships one will attract and the type of relationships one will settle for. It will also affect ones emotional state and the level of emotional intelligence one has. Ones relationship to their own body will also be influenced by the inner child.
Why Does This Happen?
So the question is: if this inner child or the memories that are creating the inner child are so old, why does it still have such power over how one is today?
This is because of the original trauma that occurred when these needs were not met still exists within the body. It has become frozen in the body and will remain that way until it is processed.
These needs are to do with basic emotional nurturing. And how strong these needs are will depend on whether or not they were met during ones childhood years .These make up ones psychological wellbeing.
From my own experience I would say that the ego mind is also conditioned by the inner child. Perhaps they are one and the same.
Through the identification to the inner child, one will see life through the eyes of the inner child. This can cause one to; feel, think, emote and behave just like this inner child.
What this means is that present situations will be interpreted through how the past was and the new situations will be attracted that mirror the past. This will also cause reactive and impulsive behaviour to occur.
Through the identification and merging with the inner child; relationships will be formed that don’t necessarily honour who one is today. These relationships will fulfil the unmet needs of the inner child. They will also reflect how the inner child was treated by its caregivers. And this of course might not always have been functional.
It can cause one to see the opposite sex as mother or father figures and as people that can offer more than is truly possible.
Present day needs will be overlooked by these original needs. There will be little room for conscious choices to be made. This is because these needs are so strong and powerful.
And when one becomes the inner child there will also be the likelihood of regression occurring. By this I mean that one will revert back to the behaviour of their childhood.
This will usually be during situations and experiences that retrigger childhood wounds; causing one to act in disempowering and dysfunctional ways.
The inner child is acting out and playing the old roles. And as these are behaviours that worked all those years ago, it will continue to use them.
The inner child has no way of supporting or caring for itself. It is reliant on its caregiver for everything. This means is that if one is identified with their inner child they will have a tendency to feel dependent on others.
This could be dependence on the approval of others, the acceptance of others or the attention of others. The inner child has no way of accepting, approving or giving itself the attention that it craves.
The inner child is still calling out for all of the validation and acknowledgment that it didn’t receive all those years ago. It carries this grief with it wherever it goes; with the constant hope that one day it will be recognised and heard by someone.
This might be why there is such a strong desire to be famous in today’s culture. Perhaps these peoples inner child just wants to be loved and noticed and to receive all of the attention it didn’t receive. However, to give the inner child what it needs directly, will only last so long, until it desires more. These needs are insatiable and can never be filled.
Being a child and not being able to do anything means that it only thinks about itself. This means that it is incredibly self centred. This is only natural and has to be recognised for what it is.
However if one was to identify with the inner child it could create the tendency to feel entitled. And if one has indentified to the inner child and feels powerless it is only natural to feel a sense of entitlement.
This has potential of creating a lot of conflict in one’s life. The inner child will need and want things that are not necessarily important to the person one is today.
It is like having two selves; one part wants one thing and another wants something completely different. This not only creates an incredible amount of conflict; it also requires a lot of energy.
Being The Observer
So if one is not the inner child, then who are we? We are the observers of the inner child and are not the inner child itself.
What this means is that as we can harmonize the inner child and give it all of the acknowledgement and validation that it didn’t receive all those years ago. This will cause the original needs can be integrated within the child.
It is not that the past is being changed, what is being changed is the emotional power and charge. Through this, the inner child will begin to change and will be on road to becoming who it might have been after a ‘perfect’ childhood; a childhood free from trauma and neglect.
At first this will probably involve external support in the form of a therapist, mentor or close friend for example.
Whether one can relate to the idea of the inner child or not is unimportant; what is important is for the development of ones emotional intelligence. This will allow one to make conscious choices and not choices that have come about through the reaction to ones emotions and past
And if one is completely identified to their inner child or have moments when they are, this will limit the ability to be conscious. It will also stop one from realising the true power that they have.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.