Written by Lena Athena
Your inner child is the part of your psyche or personality that has not evolved to unify with the adult identity you have cultivated.
Often, we think of the inner child in terms of trauma – because trauma responses keep emotions trapped in our body that keep us anchored into subconscious aspects of our identity formed by the unprocessed emotions. Through this lense, inner child often feels and sounds powerless, eas its internal dialogue is often more simple, direct, and emotional than our more adult internal dialogue. But in truth, the inner child is tremendously powerful and wise, and one of the best internal compasses for healing, growth, and fulfillment.
Your inner child is genuine, filterless, and a determined advocate for authenticity and self-love.
While it is always present, your inner child gets louder when you feel fear, overwhelm, or discomfort, to bring your focus back onto the personal needs you have conveniently neglected in pursuit of people-pleasing, productivity, and what you may believe to be “success”. This aspect of you that knows what true success it – joy, self-love, genuine fun, authentic intimacy, and creativity – is a powerful and wonderful phenomenon to be cherished.
The best way to relate with the inner child is to take on the role of a reliable, patient, and curious parent.
When you hear your inner child throwing a tantrum, it’s because you didn’t listen when it was quiet and kind – and your inner child will do whatever it takes to get the attention it deserves. If you’re a reliable parent to your inner child, one that listens even when nothing is said, your inner child will feel taken care of and calm, except when it is time to alarm you to change how you relate with the rest of the world.
In other words, an inner child that is lovingly parented is a happy one. It only shows upset when something is off and needs to be acknowledged. So, if you feel you’re being attentive and the alarm system keeps going off, it’s a clear sign that you have a significant journey of growth to embark on.
The question is, how do you know if you’re lovingly parenting your inner child?
Here are 5 principles of loving inner-parenting:
1. REFLECTION: You meditate, journal, create art or have another daily mode of serene reflection.
2. OPENNESS: You have permission to change your mind, change your plans, change your personality, and change your beliefs, no matter how it may disappoint or offend others. You acknowledge that being set in your ways is unhealthy and you prioritize growth over short-term comfort and external validation.
3. PRESENCE: You take time to smell the roses, or make a fresh fruit salad, or take a bath, or partake in other activities that focus your attention on your physical senses and life’s simplest pleasures.
4. TRUTH: You say no whenever you want to say no. You can say “not yet” or “maybe later”, but the point is that you only say yes when you really, truly want to say yes. (For tips on how to do this, read my blog titled “Don’t be a vending Machine“
5. HEALING: When you’re uncomfortable or in pain, you slow down and heal (rather than reach for the pain meds, coffee, alcohol, or another mind and body-altering substance to help you ignore or try to work around your feelings).
The above principles create a life of sustainable joy and wellness, and allow you to take loving care of yourself in ways that soothe and support your inner child.
You’re human, and following principles is “a practice”, not “a perfection”, so your inner child might still have to get your attention sometimes. The good news is that returning to the above principles provides a clear path to realign with yourself, slow down and quiet your mind, so that you can attentively listen and hear what your inner child needs.
For more wisdom on how to take great care of yourself and reconnect with the wisdom that’s available inside you, check my podcast The School of Self.
Lena Athena is a renowned personal empowerment and leadership expert and creator and host of the podcast The School of Self. Lena is also a community leader, TEDx speaker, Silicon Valley’s 2020 Woman of Influence, and past Chair of the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women.
Lena’s mission is to share knowledge, strategies, and wisdom that empower you to reconnect with your inner authority, personal values, and worthiness, so that you confidently and powerfully lead yourself and others, in alignment with your values, unique genius, and world-changing vision.
Lena combines accoladed leadership experience, 10+ years studying psychology, and cutting-edge, powerful mindset methods. Her teachings are a balance of psychospiritual wisdom and strategies proven to create meaningful, rewarding, and fulling impact that makes the world a healthier, happier place.