“Your inner child still needs to be loved in order to heal the complete self.” – Karen A. Baquiran.
So many of our deepest hurts, fears and traumas can be traced back to our inner child. When we are young, difficult situations like the sudden loss of a loved one or suffering from abuse and neglect can affect how we show up in the world as adults.
Recently on Positive Recovery MD, Dr. Powers and Julie DeNofa spoke with Heather Ogburn Stokes, Founder, and CEO of Serenity Light Recovery, LLC. In this episode, Heather, Dr. Powers, and Julie discuss overcoming a victim mindset, accepting the past to grow, and how sobriety allows us the gift to live life to the fullest. They also share how extending acts of kindness can positively impact those around us.
As Heather shares her recovery journey and how she found freedom in sobriety, she shares that extending kindness is a natural part of her. She admits that though she was afraid of getting hurt initially, she now recognizes the gift of giving and receiving love. When we extend acts of kindness to our loved ones or even strangers we meet, love strengthens as it radiates through us all.
Not only does extending kindness to others help us feel good in the moment, but it also helps others feel seen, heard, and accepted. Spreading love and kindness to those who need it the most can significantly impact those who receive it. Sometimes though, the person who needs love the most is ourselves.
So what happens when we extend love and kindness to our inner child?
We Create Space for Our Inner Child to Grieve
On the journey of healing your inner child, you may face old pains, hurts, and difficult emotions. Although it may be challenging to re-live past abuse or neglect, it’s essential that we fully acknowledge and accept our inner child’s thoughts and feelings. As children, we often feel guilt or shame because we believe it’s our fault. We thought that because we did something terrible, we didn’t deserve the love we so desperately needed from our caregivers. Odds are, when it came to abuse or neglect, we didn’t have a safe place to grieve. We may not have had a safe person to run to or a safe place to unpack the hurt. Because of this, as we grow older, we often suppress these thoughts and feelings. We bury any sign of pain, hurt, fear, or doubt to forget how we felt about the situation. The truth is, no matter how suppressed, these thoughts and feelings never truly go away.
However, there is hope. When we create space for our inner child to grieve without judgment, we lessen our traumas’ grip over our lives. By acknowledging the depths of our pain, we create space for healing. When we accept our inner child’s thoughts and feelings from an objective lens, we acknowledge the events that took place and validate our most raw emotions. Creating space for your inner child to grieve looks like letting go of guilt, shame, and self-hatred to create space for warmth, love, and kindness. Knowing what we know now, we can return to our inner child and be that safe person to run to. By creating a safe place, we show our inner child that though these events may be painful in our lives, it does get better. We can stand a little taller and show up in bigger, braver ways when we accept the past and extend love and kindness to ourselves.
There’s an Invitation to Become Childlike Again
Affirming our past hurts and releasing guilt and shame is only half of the battle in healing our inner child. Once we have created space to grieve, there’s more room for joy, curiosity, and playfulness. As children, we thrive on trying new things, asking more profound questions, and finding joy in the simplest pleasures. When we are in a healthy space as adults, there’s an invitation to become childlike again. There’s a sense of hope and awe and wonder. Suppressing our emotions from events that happened to us often suppresses the good along with it. Although we may have momentarily forgotten our troubles, we probably forgot our joys too. Not having a safe place to run to when we felt hurt also meant that we probably didn’t have a safe place for healing. By inviting ourselves to become childlike again, we remember what it’s like to be full of joy.
Because of this, as we grow older, we remember our curiosity and childlike wonder. When we unpack our childhood trauma, we also unlock our feelings of hope, excitement, healing, and enjoyment that never truly disappear. The beautiful thing about healing your inner child is that we remember to laugh and have fun again. Not only does our healing allow us to connect on a deeper level and create space for stronger relationships, it also teaches us how to extend kindness and love to ourselves for the first time.
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