When something really great or terrible happens to us at a certain time, we cling to those moments because they are things we aren’t really able to let go of. For the good, it’s easy to look back into them for relief. They’re the tiny parts of the mosaic making up an individual that may be easy to look at either because they are innocent, or simply vibrant. Sometimes the good of the past even clouds how we see the present because of how much we want it back. The inability to let go of something always leaves one frozen.
A damaged past is a different story, and how I see it, while its converse is so pretty that it just keeps our heads turned for the most part, this one simply pulls us back with its bare hands because it necessitates us to face it.
An inner child is a metaphorical version of oneself that is stuck in childhood for a landscape-defining experience one had in such formative years. Growing beyond your past is easier said than done, but if this has ever been a concern for you, many people are with you in trying to make sense out of the emotions, habits, and repercussions the human mind is very capable of as a result of various occurrences at a time we probably barely remember. The effects linger.
Our experiences and lives are distinct from one another, and at the same time, shared by many. The value in a common struggle is that help and understanding are both within arm’s reach. Here are things you can do to heal your inner child.
1. Acknowledge the cracks
Acceptance is always the first step to everything. Acknowledging what’s wrong can hurt and can bring forward a lot of wounds you most likely have not healed from, but it is necessary to come to terms with the fact that something has to be fixed, and you have to stop putting a band-aid on it, hoping it would go away the next day.
A damaged past is the result of years and years of anguish, and for some, transgenerational trauma. Ending the cycle means to see it for what it is to finally be able to draw the line.
Knowing that there is something wrong is already a very big thing. But for some, it also leads to being stuck and a warranted self-pity. Revisiting your memories is a trip to a rose garden, hence, as an adult, you ought to reflect on your realizations and give yourself the perspective you could not afford to have when you were smaller.
3. Identify triggers
Albeit being more matured and knowledgeable, we are still an extended consciousness from our past selves. Whatever trauma we might have acquired before can very possibly affect us now and manifest in different ways. A step to take to heal and avoid being triggered is to identify them in the first place.
The distress we experience coming from specific things can help identify what exactly we need to heal from, and protect ourselves better.
Keeping track of our emotions helps so much. Nothing stays constant, and with the fluctuating nature of our days and experiences, it’s important to take note of what’s on your mind. Not only is it a way to identify patterns more efficiently, but seeing the thoughts we carry inside our heads on paper just hits different. The relief in self-expression could be one of the reasons, but personally, it comforts me to put feelings into words because they finally become tangible. It makes me feel like I can finally deal with them.
5. Seek advice, surround yourself with support
We are made up of our minds and bodies and experiences, and we are also made up of the people we keep around us. Those we trust enough to tell our best and worst moments to see us in a way we never see ourselves. There is always something you can miss, and it is so important to hear the perspectives of those who genuinely care about us. Ask your loved ones what they think. Talk about it over drinks or on a cold Tuesday night. Just make sure you are surrounded with support and know that you are being looked after.
The current times have done such a stellar job in destigmatizing mental health issues that it is already a topic being discussed by many in such a light it was never spoken about before. While we still have a long way to go to guarantee accessibility to therapy, it is noteworthy to mention that it is an option you can definitely take to deal with past trauma.
The support you receive from loved ones is a lot, yes, however, it is as important to heed the advice of medical professionals who can help you unfold the multitude of layers in your past, and give you the sufficient guidance, or medical aid if necessary. There is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out for help.
7. Set boundaries
Being a product of a broken past can lead to the normalization of unhealthy relationships. Some open themselves too much out of fear of abandonment, some push everyone else away because of the same reasoning. Nonetheless, setting healthy boundaries is essential to keep one’s relationship a safe space for both parties, acknowledging needs and limits. Establishing boundaries is a step forward to ending toxic patterns that one may have previously allowed due to a wishful inner child.
Well-defined boundaries can help achieve regulation in one’s emotions, as well as protect oneself and improve trust in the self and in others.
8. Little things
In modern day discourse, this is what they define as “healing your inner child.” While it’s not as simple as this as the packaging of the narrative just screams “give into consumerism”, I do think that it is a step that is as fulfilling as the others on the list. You can buy your dream toys or whatever you liked as a child that you were never given, simply give yourself the satisfaction of appreciating things that adulthood makes seem trivial.
I do also think, however, that the “little things” extend far beyond buying. I always think of Rule #32 in Zombieland (2009) – Enjoy the Little Things. “Zombieland is harsh, enjoy happiness where it can be found to stay sane.”
It simply could be anything.
9. Heal without forgiving
In literature, media, or even in a Google search, forgiveness is always one of the top things you can find when you look for ways to heal. And yes, forgiveness is important. If there’s something to mend, then of course you have to mend it. However, the value society has placed on forgiveness turned it into a necessity. You do not have to forgive someone who deeply wronged you, as much as you are not entitled to forgiveness if you’re that person to someone too.
Peace is often declared to go hand in hand with forgiveness. But that is not always the case. Only you can assess whether or not you have to give it to someone, but never pressure yourself into doing something you know is uncomfortable for you. You can wish someone well and also not hold yourself responsible for something that can possibly trigger you, or damage your well-being. You can move forward without forgiving. It is always your choice.
10. Take care
Because none of this amounts to anything if you don’t. Do it for yourself, and do it while protecting every aspect of your well-being. In the tumult of existence, putting yourself in the backseat is very easy, but perhaps if you think about who you’re seeking this justice for, maybe you’ll be more likely to treat yourself like you’re actually delicate and swerve the bumps on the road with more care. Do it for the little child who once was you.