Inner Child Work The child is all that is abandoned and exposed and at the same time divinely powerful; the insignificantly dubious beginning and the triumphant end. ~ C.G. Jung ~
These days, most people have heard of the "inner child." Because it has been so prevalent in the pop psychology and self-help culture, it has virtually reached cliche status; however, this does not make the concept invalid. Working with the child parts of our persona is not a new idea. There is a long history in which the "inner child" has been called by various names. The concept was built upon the shoulders of giants, one of whom is Sigmund Freud. Homecoming, written by John Bradshaw, brought the face of the inner child into public awareness the 1980s.
Of course, an inner child is not an external person, but a part of our internal reality. True inner child exploration involves courage and deep psychological work. Wounds experienced in our past continue to haunt us and keep us stuck.It is often this blocked growth and creativity at various developmental phases that is at the heart of many problems such as smoking, dysfunctional relationships, low self-esteem, weight management and a myriad of other issues. An inner child—or children of different ages—become trapped due to early trauma. When we become frozen emotionally, stunted in our growth and unable to move forward. We are blocked by fear from becoming our true selves.
Hell hath no fury like a child scorned…
The person…in the grip of an old distress says things that are not pertinent, does things that don't work, fails to cope with the situation, and endures terrible feelings that have nothing to do with the present. ~ Harvey Jackins ~
When children have been nurtured appropriately their actions are highly intelligent and joyful. They have an innate sense of freedom and when they feel safe, express themselves with great spontaneity and creativity. The child who is stuck, on the other hand, is in a lot of pain and acts out. They often take on their parents' pressures and believe that they are at fault. If they are not seen or heard, they do whatever they can in an attempt to get their needs met. The pain lingers, and is carried into adulthood. The traumatized child's reality becomes the adult selves' internalized belief system that the universe is dangerous place.
If no support system exists for the child, no restorative measures can be taken. To do this work effectively through hypnotherapy, the first step is to create inner resources so that your inner child may feel safe in expressing her or his emotions, revisiting the events that created the problem, and allow him or herself to be held and nurtured. Children do not raise themselves, nor are they born into a void but the traumas of childhood can be uncovered, addressed, and overcome.
The Inner Family Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do. What happens if the parents or guardians were not appropriately parented themselves and have no positive experience as points of reference? How would that parent know what support feels like, much less how to give it? Their own inner children are still in pain and only masquerading as parents. They, in turn, may have learned unhealthy ways of relating as relationships often repeat as generational patterns. If a parental figure did not exist in the form of a consistently nurturing bio-parent, caretaker or loving presence, who is in charge? If there was no safe space growing up, how can a place of safety be created for the inner child?
A key part of the real inner child work is in finding your strong inner parent. If family-of-origin members or caretakers were abusive or absent, committing sins of commission or omission, the child needs to be protected from that negative energy. The archetype for the healthy caretaker actually exists within all of us. You might remember a person in your life with whom you felt safe. From the shamanic tradition a power animal might appear. Or for others, a favorite stuffed toy or pet in which sacred confidences were shared, offered safety, comfort and catharsis. Ancestors or other spirit guides might appear to offer council. In any instance, a foundation for trust must be created, as previously essential trust has been damaged. Accessing and building these resources will take time and be a journey in itself, but when it is complete, the bond of trust between inner parent and inner child will exist.
What you can expect from this work
The outline for a first session varies from person to person, but the intention is always on healing the rift between inner parent/guardian and child. The commonality involves going into trance and moving into a safe inner space where your child self can move through memories, fully experiencing them in whatever increments are appropriate. The goal is to open trust and communication between parent and child, in which your child is free to have a safe, restorative emotional experience. It is crucial to acknowledge and honor the extent of that original wounding. Always, the key components are safety, understanding and love.
There may be many stages in becoming the guardian and champion of your child depending on how deeply wounded your child is. Post hypnotic suggestions offer ways for your child and parent to recognize and accept each other during waking consciousness as you begin a new inner relationship. You will learn to respond to the inner child as the child's needs are triggered in day-to-day life events, and the child will come to trust the safe space you have created.
Inner child work doesn't mean that your child "grows up." It is not about changing your history, but growing from it. After becoming freed from the residue of the past, your child will come out of hiding and grow in wisdom. To truly connect with and free the child within is a discovery of your deepest, authentic self, the youngest and oldest parts of you. Reclaiming these lost parts is to become whole and complete. It is to find joy and healing, to reclaim your innocence and wisdom, your creativity and freedom, to release the archetypal hero within.