In 2021, searches for “how to heal” hit an all time high.
In the results you’ll find pages filled with traditional talk therapy techniques and laundry lists of different medications. All methods that, while effective on the surface, have little to no success in healing the deep rooted trauma at the core of our mental health crisis.
Fact: Sustained healing can only happen at the subconscious level.
The Elusive Inner Child—What It Is & Where It Lives
I’ve never met one person who doesn’t need to heal their inner child. But for most patients, the concept is entirely new. So let’s break it down.
The inner child is a part of our subconscious mind that never goes away but becomes forgotten and neglected as we begin trying to grow up fast. The subconscious provides the basis for our wellbeing and quality of life. It stores all of our past experiences—positive or negative.
Think of it like a database that houses your long term memory, beliefs, trauma, all emotions you’ve ever had but didn’t process, habits, experiences, and behavioral patterns. The subconscious mind has collected enough data in the first few years of our life to calculate and create the rest of it for us, whether we like it or not.
Today, science finds that 90% of all brain function lays beyond conscious awareness, within the subconscious. Yet the popular therapy options today neglect subconscious work entirely—only targeting the conscious 10% on the surface.
The conscious mind stores short term memory, logic, communication, and critical thinking. It is truly a superficial part of the mind, yet we have been conditioned to rely on it, both, in life decisions and our healing process.
As we grow up, previous versions of ourselves and past experiences don’t just phase out of existence. If left unhealed, childhood trauma, neglect or abuse will stay embedded in our subconscious and keep us victim to a set of beliefs that become increasingly difficult to change as we grow up.
Today, these are labeled as “limiting beliefs.” Limiting beliefs are false beliefs created in the subconscious that prevent us from expressing our full potential. They are also formed by external factors such as adopting the beliefs of parents or ideas embedded throughout education. They are fundamental to shaping what we allow in our lives and what we see as possible for ourselves.
In reality though, a limiting belief is a side effect of a wounded inner child. I see these limiting beliefs show up with all of my patients—typically in terms of money, work and relationships. Below are some of the most common limiting beliefs I help patients through:
When we neglect our inner child, we stay victim to the limiting beliefs that hold us back from our highest potential. While you can’t change the past, you can heal the wound—even if it happened years ago. Let’s explore how.
Is My Inner Child Wounded? 10 Common Signs
The experience of the inner child has a profound impact on how we express ourselves in the world. Most people bury this pain deep to protect themselves, carry the scars into adulthood. It manifests as anxiety, depression, codependency, self-sabotage, people pleasing, unworthiness, etc.
If we don’t take the steps to actively heal the inner child, we will continue to live as the wounded version of ourselves. Based on my work with patients in my Hypnotherapy practice, these are the most common ways I see a wounded inner child show up:
- Poor self talk – you belittle yourself or speak to yourself in a very negative way.
- Constantly seek validation from others.
- Have a hard time trusting others.
- Low self esteem & constant self criticism.
- You have a hard time attracting healthy partners and keep long term relationships
- Fear of abandonment & a deep sense of unworthiness.
- Lack of boundaries in relationships (friendships, work, romantic partners, family).
- Put others before yourself & are avoidant of conflict.
- Feel guilty when standing up for yourself & struggle to say no.
- Label yourself as an overachiever, people-pleaser or perfectionist.
You hold the keys to your own healing, and when you commit to healing past trauma through inner child work, you will start to regain control over your life. Most realize the incredible benefits of inner child work in weeks, if not days. The most common shifts I see in my patients include:
The 5 Stages of Inner Child Healing
Whether you’re 28 or 82, the subconscious still operates from the experience of the wounded child. The good news is we have the ability to change this.
It’s what I’ve dedicated my hypnotherapy practice towards. To help guide patients towards inner child healing, I developed the Congruency process, which happens across five stages:
- Stage 1: Awareness – In this first stage we become aware that the inner child exists and needs support. This includes becoming aware of subconscious obstacles like negative self-talk and limiting beliefs keeping the inner child wounded.
- Stage 2: Realization – In the second stage we practice acceptance and take full responsibility for the outdated programming that has been running our lives. We shift from a victim mentality, reframe the subconscious stories we tell ourselves, get intentional and take accountability to create the life we want.
- Stage 3: Unearth – During the third stage, we deeply explore the root of the wounded inner child by revisiting past experiences of trauma, abuse or neglect. Through targeted hypnosis techniques, we actively reprogram the subconscious mind to shift the story to one of empowerment.
- Stage 4: Shed – In the fourth stage we release the beliefs, memories, experiences and trauma that no longer serve us and keep the inner child wounded. They are replaced with an entirely new conscious set of beliefs and engrained into the subconscious through various exercises.
- Stage 5: Co-Create – In the fifth stage, we gain the wisdom and tools to consciously create the reality you desire by adapting and adjusting your subconscious reprogramming to meet the new and expanded versions of your ideal self.
Once you’ve mastered the five stages of the congruency process, the next step is actively working to reprogram your inner child’s experiences—which can only happen through deep subconscious work. Hypnosis techniques have proven to be most effective for long term success.
How to Reparent Your Inner Child—4 Simple & Powerful Exercises
Everybody has experienced some sort of trauma, some more severe than others. But the mind is adaptable and resilient. How we choose to heal it is entirely up to us.
Hypnotherapy is the best way to heal your inner child, but there are self-led reparenting exercises I encourage everyone to try. Reparenting your inner child is simply the process of practicing self care to meet the unmet needs of our wounded inner child—to be seen, heard, understood in our needs and wants, to be loved and to feel safe.
Below are four simple exercises you can explore to start the journey to reparenting your inner child on your own:
- Validate Your Inner Child’s Experiences – Acknowledge past experiences of trauma, abuse or neglect from childhood – validate the experience. Close your eyes and visualize “little you.” Show your inner child the support you needed at that time. Use words of encouragement and affirmation. Talk to them like you would to a little kid – use simple language and a soft, calming voice.
- Show Your Inner Child Forgiveness – Practice small acts of self love to re-establish a sense of worthiness with your inner child. The goal is to restore a sense of safety and peace within – apologize for neglecting their needs and show them the love and approval they may not have received as a child. Remind them they are safe and that you are there to care for them.
- Play with Your Inner Child – Bring back the simple joys of childhood. Write down a list of some of your favorite activities, foods, music or hobbies. Or simply ask your inner child what they would like to do. Don’t overthink, just tap into your intuition. It’s best if you can try activities that use your hands or activate the imagination. Get messy with fingerpainting. Read a kids book you loved. Play with a prized childhood toy. Go to a comedy show or improv class.
- Practice Self Acceptance with Your Inner Child – Apologize to your inner child for past words or actions that denied them of their truest desires. Acknowledge their dreams and notice times where you may have neglected them out of fear or a desire to conform and people please.
Since the inner child has been neglected for so long, you may feel a bit uncomfortable practicing these reparenting exercises on your own. I encourage you to push through those moments and show up for them. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Realize you hold the keys to your own recovery. It will take time, but it’s never too late to heal ourselves.