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  • gwendolynshapiro

Inner Child Healing Part 2

If you feel into the emotional and/or physical pain you’re experiencing, you might be able to get a sense of how old those sensations are. When you tune in and allow yourself to open to the full range of emotions, sensations, thoughts and beliefs associated with something you’re currently struggling with, we’ll go back in time and see what comes up when we ask, “when is the first time you can recall feeling this way?” “How old does this experience feel?”. 

Answers vary, but often I hear, I can’t remember ever not feeling this way. I feel like I’m seven years old, or a teenager, or smaller than my memory will allow me to recall and visualize. I’m an infant crying out in the dark. If I ask you to go inside, we can begin to sense and visualize what that part looks like. Maybe it’s a child crying alone in a room. A child afraid of being punished. A child hiding under the table from violence. A child being hit, strangled, threatened. A child who’s told her feelings don’t matter, she should be grateful, he’s overreacting, they take things too personally. Maybe that child was never held or soothed.

This where reparenting our inner child comes in. How do you feel when you look at that child? Are there feelings of anger, hatred, disgust? If so, who could we bring in to provide comfort? Sometimes I’ll step in and offer what the child needs - comfort, reassurance, holding, removing the child from the environment and taken to a safe peaceful place where together we can meet its needs. Sometimes we’ll go to a field of flowers, or McDonalds, or a playground. When people struggle to access compassion for these younger parts, we can often identify someone else to enter the scene and meet the child’s needs. It could be a pet, a relative, a friend, a character from a book or movie, an author or someone who’s inspired you and provided comfort in difficult times. Maybe we’ll enter the image together, holding hands, providing a safe holding, loving space for the child.

Over time you’ll find love and compassion develop for those younger parts. Attending to the roots of your inner experience will become natural. Self-soothing is the foundation for emotional regulation, and I have found that inner child work is the direct path towards gaining insight, self-love and the ability to self-soothe and regulate emotions. 

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