I fell in love with a poem written by my client, Prem Sharma, and with…
Revising our perception of the past is essential to healing the inner child. Otherwise, we inevitably reject the child’s wound and its authentic expression. We dismiss painful feelings that mom, dad, family members, teachers and other kids ignored, made wrong or overruled.
Many people are set on avoiding the past or are so identified with trauma that they cannot reconcile the painful memories, and their inner child is left alone to fend for themselves.
Children need comforting parents, and in the case of past trauma, the wounded inner child needs self-parenting, self-soothing, and self-regulation.
Self-parenting is the process of embracing all of you. It is the ability to reassure the wounded inner child, so he/she can feel seen, heard and protected, and it’s essential for disarming the inner critic.
Self-regulation is the ability to monitor your emotions, thoughts, and behaviours to manage your triggers and stay connected to what matters to you. It’s the foundation for conscious awareness, emotional intelligence, filtering sensory stimulation, and coping effectively with stress.
Self-regulating with re-storytelling.
A Healing Practice
A powerful self-parenting, self-regulating and ultimately healing practice is to look for the beauty – the good – in the past.
I have been revisiting this practice of re-storytelling and reminded of how empowering and joyful it is. I didn’t set out to do this practice. I just kept having a subconscious recurring dialogue with myself. I kept hearing my inside voice saying, “When I was three … “When I was seven…” and so on.
I stopped to listen and fill in the blank – a practice I encourage you to do if you’re feeling estranged from your inner innocence or simply yearning to settle your energy.
Let your intuition guide you and explore what emerges as you contemplate timestamps in your life. Initially, painful memories may arise. These are the memories that seek love and acceptance.
“When I was three…,” my parents fought, split up and got back together, and later split up again and again.” I have many such painful memories, and it’s important to me that I not get stuck in these places. I think that not only do we tend to avoid the past – the suffering – we also become overly identified with painful memories.
Turning painful memories around has less to do with trying to see the positive in the bad experience; it has to do with seeing and sensing more, reaching beyond the pain and arriving at some sweet pleasure we experienced as children.
So, as I continued to hear my inner voice saying the words, “When I was three…” I remembered sliding down my dad’s knees, pretending his legs were a slide. When I was three, my older sister, dad and I bounced on the bed, made funny faces and played airplane. These are some of the fondest recollections of my youth.
“When I was four, five, six…,” dad would sing us to sleep with his guitar playing.” Oh, I loved that so much.
Still, my inner voice repeated the ages, “When I was seven…”
When I was seven, my mom left us with a babysitter who was abusive, which I wrote about in my book, in a chapter on healing the inner child. While it’s true that I suffered, I’ve come to know the freedom of understanding and forgiveness – a gift of healing that I’ve given myself and shared with others.
I have another memory from when I was seven that is the epitome of innocence. I painstakingly wrote a letter to Santa asking for a Baby Alive doll. A week later, mom told me that Santa came to see her. That perked my interest. “What, Santa came to see you, mommy?”
So, when she mentioned that Santa had told her that there were no more baby-alive dolls left and asked if it would be okay to give me a different doll, I was agreeable.
In 1976, Baby Alive was so popular that all the shops ran out in the days leading up to Christmas. Also, I imagine the doll would have been quite expensive and maybe more than my mother could afford. So instead of Baby Alive, I got a little black doll that I named Gloria, which I didn’t particularly like at the time but came to love. In fact, I still have her. When I compare the two dolls, I think mom was ahead of her time, gently advocating for black-lives-matter.
Despite this lovely memory, I recount every Christmas; my inner voice persisted in bringing up more ages. “When I was eight…,” my mother died. “When I was fourteen…,” I moved in with my dad, and he criticized everything about me. These pivotal moments in my life still exist in my body, reminding me that healing isn’t linear; it’s a practice of embracing one’s present need for love and affection.
Through exploring different ages, I realized that my inner child was seeking more fulfilling stories. It wasn’t enough to soothe the reoccurring hurt. Something else wanted to happen. Renewal.
Over the weeks, my enduring inner voice repeated the same incomplete sentence, bringing up the many ages and slowly encouraging joyful memories.
“When I was eight, I got a wristwatch for my birthday, and mom taught me how to read the time the next day. That same year, after her passing, my grandmother came to get us in Victoria, BC, and we flew back to Montreal in first class. We were treated like royalty by the flight attendants. It was a big adventure.
When I was fourteen, despite my father’s criticism, which came from his insecurities, he taught me about lucid dreaming. I had a nightmare one night, and the next morning, he suggested that the next time there’s a monster in my dream, to face it and tell it to get out of my dream. It’s a very effective technique. It works!
Also, when I was fourteen, he and I played frisbee in the hallway and went to Kungfu classes together. And I bought my first paint set, and he let me paint everything from tin cans to kitchen cupboards and walls.
Memories are malleable, moveable and changeable.
You can be a shape-shifter and mine the depths of your past experiences for treasures, which is especially needed in these times of change.
If you can’t find a treasured memory, don’t worry. Remember that you were and still are an innocent child in need of love and care, and you can give that to yourself now. As well, your inner innocence is intrinsically loving. That innocence has never died. It is yours for eternity.
Innocence is the soul in the body that never dies, curiosity born again and again, and your creative spark and intuitive knowing. Innocence is the purity of heart, the longing for connection and that innate capacity to love and be loved.
You can nurture your innocence by listening, paying attention and being mindful of your reactions, accepting and loving yourself, and validating your feelings to help establish and cultivate a deep feeling of safety
“Developing a relationship with your inner child teaches you a fundamental structure for all intimate connections.”
– Evan Curwen
“You are every age you’ve ever been, all at once — meaning at any time you’re carrying the wisdom of your oldest self and the innocence of your child self.”
– GS Therapy Center
“May you always see the world through the eyes of a child.”
– C.J. Heck
For more information and guidance on healing the inner child,
you can read my blogs How to release emotional wounds from your childhood,
and Creating a safe place for the wounded inner child.
Feature image by Katrina Wright