Inner Child Diagram

Reparenting: How To Heal Our Inner Child

There is an old Hindu saying that a woman is reborn after the birth of her child. When I became a parent I disregarded this as hearsay. But today I understand the reference wasn’t physical but emotional.

Parenting is rebirth. Through our children, we relive our childhood. Since we are so attached to them, they bring out all our conditioned patterns and beliefs. This can happen in close romantic relationships too.

This concept of “awakening” to my conditioned patterns from my childhood – I first heard in a talk by Dr. Shefali Tsabury. It revolutionized my approach to the concept of parenting.

She spoke about how we do not react to our children’s actions but actually to our own childhood inhibitions, fears, abandonment, anxiety, and invalidation.

In hindsight I can add that – we do not react to our partner’s actions but actually to our own childhood inhibitions, fears, abandonment, anxiety, and invalidation.

Our children/partners awaken us to our obsessions, addictions, and insecurities. They bring to our attention our anxiety, need for perfection, and desire for control if we are willing to see it. They especially mirror to us in all the ways we simply aren’t our ‘authentic selves.’

One line which stuck with me by Dr. Shefli was – ‘The trigger always lies within us, rooted in our past hurt and childhood struggles’ – got me thinking.

  • On the reality of my childhood
  • Feelings I had buried deep inside
  • Look deeply into the ‘root’ of my triggers
  • Remember the pain of rejection
  • Feel my body – feel like a 10 year old again – when I was in a terrifying situation

Thus slowly the concept of the inner child being alive in me was emerging into my brain. I could feel ‘her’ still very much there in me. Omnipresent in my subconscious mind.

My inner child’s fears, beliefs, attitudes, anxieties were my subconscious – fears, beliefs, attitudes, anxieties. ‘Her’ reactions due to these states were my conditioned automatic reactions.

The questions running in my mind were:

  • How do I understand these fears?
  • What do I do with this information?
  • How do I manage these outporing of remniscient feelings?

And then I hit upon the concept of Reparenting.

Reparenting

Reparenting is the concept of parenting your inner child. Like a rebirth again for you.

Here you are that ‘wise’ parent to your inner child where you see, hear, soothe and make him/her feel secure.

Let’s break down the above sentence into 3 key ideas.

Who is a Wise Parent?

A wise/authentic/conscious parent to me is that one secure attachment in your life.

By this I mean, any person who you feel:

  • safe
  • seen
  • heard
  • soothed
  • and secure with

It could be your spouse, friend, therapist, grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, brother, or sister. Or yourself.

It means that one connection where you can be you and feel as safe as you did in your mother’s womb.

There may be conflicts, disparities, and arguments in this connection but the frequency is rare and the understanding, empathy, and compassion are triple-fold.

And everyone needs at least one. That one person, who is always on your side.

If you do have at least one or none in your life – being this one secure attachment for yourself is greatly beneficial.

Because the one person who is your constant companion – is YOU!

So you can validate your unmet needs and desires.

Also, it is unfair to expect someone to meet ALL your needs and desires and completely understand them. No one can do it.

That is why we are the best ‘wise’ parents to ourselves.

How do you do this?

By Positive Self Talk
Accepting your feelings of unworthiness, fear, anxiety, and rage can be the first step to healing. Understanding your triggers and rewinding the timeline can help you find your unmet need and address the correct issue.

By Journalling
Writing down your feelings to be seen and heard. This makes them feel validated and the intensity decreases. Also if you are facing a problem, when you write them down, the spiral unravels to show you the path more clearly.

By Doodling
Another great way is to draw feelings. If you are a visual person then mind maps, doodles, flow charts or random basic designs will help you clear your head on paper and the feelings to feel less muddled. You can then become more conscious of what thoughts and feelings need to be addressed and the need behind them.

Now that we know about the parent, let’s meet the inner child.

Who is the Inner Child?

When we are infants, we exhibit what is called bottom-up behavior. Simply meaning we live in our bodies and completely in the present. Our feelings are dependant on how we feel.

If a baby is hungry, tired, gassy, or sleepy s/he will cry and want a connection with the primary caregiver so they can feel safe, seen, and soothed.

Our brains are growing rapidly in this stage and connection is a vital need.

  • When there is secure attachment – an infant may cry on absence of primary caregiver but it soothed upon return
  • With anxious attachment the infant is distressed the whole time during the absence of the primary caregiver and cannot be soothed upon return either
  • Due to an avoidant attachment the child may not be distressed and does not seek out primary caregiver on return. It breeds disconnection

During childhood, the way parents act and react to their children and how they make them feel is of primary importance. Since a lot of our brain development happens in the first five years and that time we are mainly ‘feeling’ beings – how we feel with our parents determines our identity, ego stories, values, attachment style, and inner self-talk.

For example, if I have a parent who criticized me a lot, my inner self-talk will be of:

  • thoughts of unworthiness
  • talk of i am unlovable
  • feelings that I do not deserve good things

since children think the world of their parents, the parents cannot be wrong. Also, it is easier to not love yourself than your parent.

The inner child for me is the summation of these unheard + unseen feelings which becomes a part of our subconscious mind. These become the automatic physiological reactions in our body and crop up in a state of emergency – when we are overcome with emotions and go into flight/fight response.

So when we are reacting – we are doing so from our 5-year-old mind!

Most childhoods are devoid of secure attachment and have a certain amount of trauma. Trauma here =

  • unheard + unseen feelings,
  • denied reality,
  • asked to be responsible for an adult’s feelings and dreams,
  • rescue + protect everyone = siblings, parents, relatives
  • sacrifice all the time
  • and unwillingly comply.

Here the idea is to NOT blame our parents. They were unconscious of these patterns and are a part of generational trauma. The thought here is to know, accept and NOT pass on. To break the cycle + patterns.

So how do we do that?

By processing these inner child emotions + being a wise parent to ourselves so = we can heal our inner child.

Healing Our Inner Child

Healing is a nonlinear, messy, roundabout kind of process. It is more like peeling an onion than drawing a line. Each layer once unpeeled brings more unkind memories, feelings, and thoughts.

But it is worth it. It may be filled with bouts of fear, doubt, shame, loneliness, and rage but being your own wise parent helps here. As it is darkest before dawn.

Having been on and still on this healing journey myself I can say – it’s worth it.

Here are 12 practices you can use to begin the healing of your inner child:

  1. Witness your reactions with non judgement
  2. Be curious to understand your trigger
  3. Feel the feeling when in reactive mode – stress alters our reality
  4. Pause and take deep to switch on the thinking brain
  5. Be your wise parent and validate unseen + unheard feelings
  6. Make firm boundaries to help you honour your own needs
  7. Indulge in taking care of your self and growing self awareness
  8. Give your time + effort in fulfilling authentic relationships
  9. Engage in gratitude practices
  10. Do not listen to your inner critic and be more self compassionate
  11. Think less of past & future as they create anxiety and resentment. Be more in the present
  12. Engage more in practices which create a state of flow. Anything which creates and instills a sense of wonder in you.

Wonderous was our nature as children. The more we become present, curious, empathetic, creative, and grateful – the more calm, peaceful, and abundant state we will be in.

The more abundance we live and feel – the more we will manifest in our lives and the healing will begin.

And the more the inner child heals – the more sense of wonder and excitement you will feel.

The more alive you will feel.

And that, my friend, is how all of us were born to feel.

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