The concept of the “inner child” has been a near-constant focus of therapy since the 1970s . From psychiatrist Charles Whitfield to new age practitioner Louis Hay, helping professionals have advocated clients accessing their “inner child” to understand unresolved childhood wounds and to facilitate healing, growth and insight.
Learning to “Self-Parent”
We all have unmet needs, long-held disappointments, grief that’s been stuffed down or unexpressed. Rarely are the “fits” between parent and child so perfectly matched as to avoid hurts, assumptions or misunderstandings, especially during the early years of life. We may long for the unconditional love we were unable to feel from our caretakers, or for the praise or recognition that may have been inconsistent. The beauty of acknowledging and understanding the needs and hurts of our youngest “parts” is that we no longer need to rely on others to provide us what we lack. With the guidance of a skilled therapist or spiritual counselor, we can learn how to identify and validate the pain we still carry from decades-ago events. We can develop the skills to tend to our hurts, to respond to our needs with compassion and nurturance. We can rewrite the negative scripts programmed unconsciously in our childhoods to include a more balanced, affirming and forgiving sense of self. We are no longer reliant on others to assure us of our value. We can be our own “inner child’s” good-enough parent, encouraging, loving and cheering ourselves on to a more healed and resilient self.