Our 'inner child' refers to the original self, the open hearted, freely expressive and spontaneous self inside.
Our programming sets itself up within the first 6 years of our lives. Psychologically, this programming will determine how each of us reacts and deals with life, our self confidence and how we define what love feels like.
The relationship with our parents and caretakers is the most important connection we will establish and becomes our first understanding of the meaning of love.
Your inner child stays with you as you become an adult. It is hidden in your subconscious - holding onto any pain, rejection and programming that you experienced throughout your childhood years. When we have a strong emotional reaction to something or someone - when a button is pushed and there is a lot of energy attached - that means there is old, subconscious stuff coming up.
It is the inner child who feels panic or rage or terror or perhaps a sense of hopelessness.
Throughout your life your inner child will continue to manifest outwardly and may create all kinds of problems, unless the emotional wounds are made aware of and healed. You may find that you repeat the same scenarios in life, such as finding partners who mirror your original household upbringing, yet make your life miserable.
Until we can bring these wounds into our conscious awareness, they will continue to live deep in our mind. Our 'inner child' is looking to be heard and healed.
Prolonged stress during childhood
In cases where children and teens suffer from prolonged stress and especially unpredictable stressors, they are left with deep, long‑lasting scars. When the young brain is thrust into stressful situations over and over again without warning, and stress hormones are repeatedly fired up, small chemical markers, known as methyl groups, adhere to specific genes that regulate the activity of stress‑hormone receptors in the brain. These epigenetic changes hamper the body’s ability to turn off the stress response.
In ideal circumstances, a child learns to respond to stress, and recover from it, learning resilience. But kids who’ve faced chronic, unpredictable stress undergo biological changes that cause their inflammatory stress response to stay activated.
Our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and the body are all connected, so anything manifested by the body first begins on an energetic level, brought into by our thoughts and facilitated by our emotions before it is physically realised.
When a person has experienced prolonged stress in their childhood years they are likely to then churn out a damaging, inflammatory cocktail of stress neurochemicals through their endocrine and immune systems in response to even small stressors as an adult – a disagreement with their partner, a car that cuts in front of them on the road, a sudden loud noise – for the rest of their lives. They overreact to, and are less able to recover from the everyday stressors of life. They are always reacting and setting off inflammatory responses in their body, leading to disease down the road - in the form of autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, fibroid tumours, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, migraines and asthma.
Researchers have seen a correlation between specific types of adverse childhood experiences and different types of diseases. For example, children whose parents die, or who face emotional, physical abuse or neglect, or witness marital disharmony between their parents are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, headaches, multiple sclerosis and lupus as adults. Your chances of having chronic fatigue syndrome as an adult increases six fold with a difficult childhood. Kids who lose a parent have triple the risk of depression in their lifetimes. Children whose parents divorce are twice as likely to suffer a stroke later down the line.*
We don’t just get over something in time, instead pain is concealed in our body that will eventually become disease later in life.
It is possible to change your self sabotaging or destructive thought patterns so that your mind is no longer your enemy.
When you heal the inner child and start loving and respecting yourself more on a core level everything on the outside changes.
By consciously communicating with that little child within: to listen to what he/she feels and needs from us in the present moment. The primal needs of the inner child - love, acceptance, protection, understanding, nurture - remain the same now as when we were children.
When we acknowledge and heal our inner child, setting boundaries, letting go of trying to control, seeing life more clearly, stopping the victimization, etc., will eventually become automatic and intuitive.
*Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nakazawa