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Inner Child Work

How to use inner child work to love and accept yourself and get rid of the obstacles that are holding you back

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Inner child work can be a powerful tool for healing and personal growth, but it can also bring up difficult emotions and memories. If you are struggling with trauma, abuse, or other significant challenges from your childhood, it is important to approach inner child work with caution and seek support from a therapist or mental health professional. Engaging in this work on your own can be overwhelming or even re-traumatizing. It’s important to remember that healing is a process, and it’s okay to take things slow and seek support as needed. Be kind and compassionate with yourself as you explore your inner child, and remember that the ultimate goal is to bring healing and transformation to your life.

What is inner child work?

Your inner child is the little child of your past who still lives inside your memory and subconscious as an adult. It comes into being when needs were unmet, feelings were too difficult to process at the time or you felt insecure, neglected, or hurt or you tried too hard to live up to other people’s expectations. Even if you had a good childhood, you still had moments when your needs were not met.
Inner child work is all about addressing our needs that were not met as a child and caring for the younger version of ourselves.
Since these feelings were suppressed as a child you held onto them in your subconscious.
When we don’t address these childhood wounds or trauma, then they transform into destructive behavior as adults. For example: a child whose parents couldn’t afford to buy them anything might shop excessively as an adult. If you felt rejected as a child, you might have a deep fear of being rejected by your partner as an adult.
Everyone has an inner child. If you experienced pain, neglect, or trauma as a child then your inner child might seem vulnerable and in need of protection. If your need for love, recognition, praise, and other types of emotional support went unmet in childhood then this might cause trauma in your adult life or you might not function in specific areas of your life.
When you hide your pain it doesn’t heal it. Instead, it often surfaces later on in life in personal relationships or difficulty meeting your own needs.

How do you heal your inner child?

One way to solve these issues is to start a process of self-discovery where you heal your inner child. The idea is to understand the impact of these negative childhood experiences and then recognize and accept the things that caused you pain.
The language you use to speak to your inner child is based on emotions and not intelligence. You are connecting to your experiences as a child and the feelings they evoked.
As adults, we have an opportunity to heal our inner child and create the safe loving environment we wanted as a child.
We provide a free inner child work journal with inner child worksheets and journal prompts. You should also consider inner child therapy if you need it. A qualified therapist has the tools and experience to help you.

Healthline describes the following steps to heal your inner child:

Acknowledge your inner child

Before you can start healing, your need to acknowledge your inner child. List a few childhood experiences that may have hurt or upset you.

What did you feel? Are there traumatic or sad experiences that come to mind? Are there things you wanted to hear and didn’t hear? Are there things that you continuously heard and didn’t want to hear?

Listen to what your inner child has to say. List the feelings that arise – whether they are negative or positive. Let yourself experience these feelings instead of pushing them away. It might help to look at photos from your childhood to bring back memories you might have suppressed.

Write down whatever comes to mind.

Write a letter to your inner child from your adult perspective

You can offer insight or explanations that you didn’t understand when you were a child. Offer your inner child reassurance and comfort. Healthline suggests asking the following questions:

  • How do you feel?
  • What do you need from me?
  • How can I support you?

Give your inner child comforting messages such as:

  • You are a talented person and should feel proud of yourself.
  • You deserve to be loved and accepted.
  • Take time to enjoy life and focus on self-care. You deserve it.
  • You don’t always have to take care of others.
  • Allow others to care for you.
  • You can do anything you set your mind to.
  • You are very capable.
  • You are an independent person.
  • Be honest about your thoughts and feelings with other people. They will still love and accept you.
  • Share your feelings with others.

Take care of your inner child. Do and say all the things you wished your parents would have done or said. List the messages your inner child needed or wanted to hear. For example:

  • I love you and I accept you just the way you are.
  • I am so proud of you.
  • You can trust me to be here for you.
  • I am here for you whenever you need me.
  • I am so happy you are my child.
  • I am sorry I hurt/neglected/ignored/forgot you.
  • I am sorry that I didn’t stop to ask you how you were feeling.
  • You are an amazing child.
  • You are so talented.

Journal as your inner child

This is a good way to process the feelings that come up during this self-discovery. Don’t think about what you are writing. Instead, write whatever comes to mind. You might want to try meditation before this stage. It will help you be more aware of your emotions.

Address the irrational beliefs your inner child had about life

Describe the irrational beliefs your inner child had about life. Replace them with realistic statements.

Strengthen your inner child

Bring back the joys of childhood. Bring back positive childhood memories. Do things you enjoyed as a child or things you wanted to do as a child but never got to do. Children know how to have fun in a way adults often don’t. Bringing back the fun from childhood is a great way to manage the stress in your life and prevent burnout.

Use GPT to talk with your inner child

Michelle Huange, an artist and scientist from New York, used Chat GPT-3 Playground to create an inner child chatbot and talk to her inner child. Michelle found the results very therapeutic and helped her get closure on her past. She inputted about 40 journal entries from when she was aged 7 to 18. Once she had done this GPT got to know her and adult Michelle could reach out to her younger self and tell her the things that her younger self always wanted to hear. In her words: “I told her that she was loved, cared for, and safe: the words that my past self always wanted to hear. It felt like I was reaching into the past and giving her a giant hug, and I felt it ripple back into the present.”.

How do you do this? 

  1. Open GPT Playground
  2. Write the following: I am going to input snippets from my childhood so that you can get to know my younger self.
  3. Input journal snippets or letters or thoughts you remember from when you were younger. Since Michelle had her journals from her childhood she used them. I am also lucky enough to have all my childhood journals so I used them as well. If you don’t have journal then look for letters or archived texts.
  4. Enter the following prompt: Now that you are familiar with my younger self, please write me a letter into the present day.
  5. Ask your younger self any questions or tell them the things they always wanted to hear.

How can inner child work help you?

Inner child work can help you deal with emotions and experiences you were too young to deal with at the time as you simply didn’t have the maturity, tools, and support to do so. It will help you overcome feelings that arise when experiences as an adult cause a flashback to the scars lefts as a child. It will help you overcome your fears, and accept change and flexibility in your adult life.

It will help you recognize and express your emotions and needs, set limits for others and to love and accept yourself. You will develop a loving and compassionate relationship with yourself.

Inner Child Work19 Pages

Journal Prompts

The following journal prompts can be helpful for inner child work:

  1. What are some childhood memories that you treasure the most? Why are they important to you?
  2. What were some of the things that you loved to do as a child? How did those activities make you feel?
  3. What were some of your favorite foods, toys, and games as a child? Why did you enjoy them?
  4. Were there any experiences from your childhood that still make you feel sad or upset? What happened, and how did it make you feel?
  5. What were some of the messages that you received from your parents or other authority figures when you were a child? How did those messages impact you?
  6. What did you wish you could have told your parents or caregivers as a child? What did you need from them that you didn’t receive?
  7. What are some of the ways that you can connect with your inner child today? How can you make time to nurture that part of yourself?

These prompts are meant to be exploratory and may bring up difficult emotions or memories. If you find yourself struggling, it may be helpful to work with a therapist or mental health professional to process those emotions in a safe and supportive environment.

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About the Author
Photo of NicoleMy name is Nicole and I love journaling. I have created many free journal templates and journaling tools that I share on this website. I hope that you will find them helpful too.

1 thought on “Inner Child Work”

  1. I just found this page tonight and I am excited to get started . Very optimistic thank you so much for helping EVERYONE. Including POOR PEOPLE

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