On Re-Parenting your Inner Child

Have you ever heard of the phrase re-parenting? Or the idea of an inner child? What comes to mind when you hear these phrases? What comes to mind when you think of who you were 10, 20, maybe 40 years ago?

I’ve found that in adulthood we tend to lose our sense of wonder and playfulness. And it makes sense, right? We’ve got bills, families, and chores galore. But in all of the day-to-day chaos it can be easy to lose ourselves and forget who we are. Then one day we wake up and wonder how we got here and whether we are actually happy.

This is where inner child work shows up. Re-parenting your inner child is all about returning to your most authentic self. It’s about honoring the developmental needs that our caregivers may not have provided and resulted in core wounds. This can look like honoring our emotions, listening when your bodies tell us it’s tired or hungry, playing our favorite games, going for spontaneous hikes, setting firm protective boundaries, asking for what we need, and/or sharing our honest thoughts and emotions.

Try this. Find a picture of yourself from when you were a child (somewhere between 5-15 years old) and listen to what phrases and emotions show up as you look at that little face. What did you need to hear? What did you need to receive? Maybe you needed more hugs or maybe to hear that you were perfect and precious exactly as you are. Maybe you needed more guidance on how to try new things for yourself. As you listen, write these things down in a journal. These are your beacons of light, guiding you home to your being. The core of who we are lies within honoring our most honest and authentic needs. Only when we honor these needs can we have true emotional intimacy.

A large focus of therapy is unpacking these core wounds and deciphering how they show up in our present life. Maybe because we struggle to set protective boundaries we slip into becoming a people pleaser and are taken advantage of. And if we look back we may notice that we weren’t allowed or taught how to hold boundaries as a child. As we honor those frozen emotions from childhood we can become empowered in the present.

Re-parenting is tough and it doesn’t mean that we didn’t have amazing childhoods. It simply means that our parents are human and that we are all worthy of being honored. This is how we heal and move forward together. I encourage you to set aside some time every week to check in with your inner child, maybe honor them with a picture on your nightstand or do some finger painting. However you decide to honor yourself, I hope it’s nourishing and authentic.

Wishing you lots of sunshine on your journey,

Dr. B