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Is your inner child trying to get your attention? Are you listening?

Updated: May 3, 2021

Don't give this a lot of thought, just take a couple of gentle breaths, close your eyes and fill in the blank. My Inner Child is:______________.

What came up for you? Joyful? Sad? Angry? Lonely? Afraid? Or something else that may have surprised you? If you weren't able to get a sense of your inner child, don't worry... Your Inner Child may be shy and hiding in a corner somewhere. Or, they may be quite boisterous; acting out in many subtle - and not-so-subtle ways, trying to get your attention. In either case, they are playing a significant role in your life and relationships.

We are born completely dependent upon others for our safety and survival. This Vulnerable Child; part of the Inner Child sub-personality is our primary self that remains with us for our entire lifetime. It is an integral part of who we are as a person, and it keeps a record of everything that happens to us. It holds our memories, our deepest sensitivities, our hurts, worries and fears—All of which instruct the child in how to respond when it feels threatened. However, The Child lacks the understanding to process its hurts and traumatic experiences effectively to facilitate healing and resolution of its wounds. It sees, feels, and retains everything, but the records and memories are rooted in past confusion and cannot provide any reliable or helpful information to the child in the present.

We all need to feel loved and accepted unconditionally, and to be nurtured in a way that supports healthy growth and independence. But if our care-givers were not nurtured in these ways themselves, they could not supply our needs, or nurture this love and acceptance within us. As we mature, other personality self-aspects emerge that hide the awareness of the Wounded Child from our conscious self in order to protect it. However, this also hides the delightful, adventurous nature of the child's essence, which we need to thrive and grow into the full expression of ourselves. Feeling the lack of love and attention acutely, the Inner Child will unconsciously seek to meet this core need in any way it can. While the playful essence of The Child can create fun and intimacy in our relationships, The Child acting out of a past wounding situation can become very angry when it feels neglected—causing us to react defensively or aggressively if it feels it has been hurt or rejected by another.

As adults, many of us have experienced times when we were surprised by the intensity of our own behavior or response. Perhaps we suddenly burst into uncontrollable sobs when someone rubbed us the wrong way, or a slight annoyance escalated into a seething rage in an instant and we fired back angrily at someone, later shamefully regretting the outburst. Other times, a crippling fear that seems to have no source may creep up on us, leaving us frozen in place; feeling helpless and unable to breathe. Or, as I recently experienced, a hint of sadness morphs unexpectedly into full-blown grief, reducing us to a puddle on the floor—purging yet another layer of a wound we thought we'd dealt with. I may not have been a puddle on the floor—but "I cried me a river "of deep, heart-wrenching tears. In moments like these, it's like our rational self has been ambushed; taken hostage by some unseen force. In the aftermath, we are left feeling physically drained and emotionally exhausted.

While these experiences seem to come as a surprise to us, the seeds of these reaction potentials are rooted just under the surface of our awareness. The catalysts that draw them out are called "triggers" for good reason. Someone or something nudges a sore spot or pokes an unhealed place within us, and the 'pain' reacts. Once the old wound is accessed and fully engaged, the mind is hijacked, making it impossible to view the present event from a broader perspective; our focus has narrowed and we are operating from the wound itself.

Left hidden and unhealed, these inner child wounds become automatic reactions in adulthood—our default or knee-jerk responses. Hyper-reactive behaviors can seem inappropriate for the circumstances or the situation, but The Child is using the only coping mechanism it has—acting out; and crying out for the love and attention it desperately needs. We all have this Inner Child within us. When we deny this child aspect, we disown an essential part of ourselves. We can try our best to ignore it, but much like a jack-in-the-box stuffed into its container, the Wounded Child waits just under the surface of our conscious awareness until a specific event or "trigger" brings it out of hiding.

The harder we try to repress our Wounded Child, the more it pops up, driving our behaviors and reactions so we will fully realize and accept it.

Whenever someone lashes out or responds in a manner that does not seem to fit the situation, it is, at its core, a call for love and acceptance. Understanding this can help us respond with love, kindness and compassion for others, and for ourselves.

Uncovering our wounded patterns isn't always a neat and tidy task. It's often messy and complicated. We may try to rid ourselves of our pain by projecting it outward, but this only boomerangs back to us in ever more painful ways because of the conflicts we create. Or we may draw our pain inward, stuffing it down until it cannot be contained any longer, and it manifests in other ways such as illness, addictions or depression. As the motivational speaker, Emory Austin, said: " We only change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change." We all have different tolerance levels for pain, but eventually we realize the blame game of projecting our pain onto others, and the sense of worthlessness we internalize by swallowing our pain, only protects the wound itself; keeping us stuck in a vicious cycle of self-abuse and re-wounding.

Sometimes, it takes a trail of fractured relationships or losing one we held most dear to see the influence of our wounds in the dramas we experience—and finally accept the self-responsibility necessary to heal and integrate these wounded aspects within us. Countless healing opportunities will present themselves, for what we do not acknowledge or accept within ourselves is reflected to us through our personal relationships. Our family members, our friends, our neighbors, co-workers, etc., will seem to push our buttons over and over, and/or appear to possess the very personality traits we repress or judge within ourselves, that are in need acceptance, love, forgiveness and healing. Regardless of what has happened in our past or whom we deem responsible for causing us pain, we have the sole (and soul) responsibility to heal ourselves in the present. This healing work is the most important and loving thing we can do for ourselves, and for those we love.

What does your Inner Child need?

Ask gently, listen closely, and act kindly to supply these needs. Start small. Maybe your Inner Child wants to draw you a picture or write you a letter. Perhaps it fancies a walk by the seashore or a swing in the park. If so, these are all perfect ways to connect with your Inner Child. Once you do, you will discover how excited they are to have your time and attention. They long to be seen and heard, and invited into your experience more fully. Most of all, they need you to take them into your heart and love and accept them unconditionally, so they can heal and grow beyond their wounding into the happy, playful part of you they long to be. Reclaiming and healing all aspects of ourselves is Key to becoming the self-actualized whole individual we want to be.

Many of us believe in a universal power greater than ourselves, however we choose to define it. The Child's true essence is one of innocence and wholeness, and it is deeply connected to this power; our true spiritual nature. Our True Nature does not see division, differences or blame. It sees beyond our limited beliefs about ourselves and others to the innocence and Love that we all are. It wants only our perfect happiness. It honors our experiences and choices, without judgment or condemnation. And it gently guides and supports us on our healing journey towards wholeness, and in remembering the truth of our worth. Beyond our sense of wounding, personality aspects, judgements and recriminations, this Ultimate Parent sees only our best, and It loves The Child within us completely and unconditionally.

As we embrace and heal our Inner Child, we open more fully to this Source of Love within us. In this sacred center of ourselves, we discover an inner enthusiasm and zest for life; we realize the brilliance of our shining worth and accept the many gifts inherent in it, inspiration, creativity, joy, abundance and peace.

Excerpt from Lesson 182, A Course in Miracles: I will be still an instant and go home

This Child needs your protection. He is far from home. He is so little that He seems so easily shut out, His tiny voice so readily obscured, His call for help almost unheard amid the grating sounds and harsh and rasping noises of the world. Yet does He know that in you still abides His sure protection. You will fail Him not. He will go home, and you along with Him. You have not lost your innocence. It is for this you yearn. This is your heart’s desire. This is the voice you hear, and this the call which cannot be denied. The holy Child remains with you. His home is yours. Today He gives you His defenselessness, and you accept it in exchange for all the toys of battle you have made. And now the way is open, and the journey has an end in sight at last. Be still an instant and go home with Him, and be at peace a while. ACIM W-p1.182. 6.12.

Rev. Theresa Tomilson is a certified course facilitator, relationship enhancement counsellor and a ministerial counsellor of Pathways of Light Spiritual College ®. She facilitates the Pathways of Light: Eight -Week Healing Inner Child Program through teleconference or videoconference, and in person.

She also offers other spiritually focused courses and programs. For more information, please Visit:

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