One of the most powerful exercises you can do to overcome anxiety, depression or other dysfunctional family issues is to love the wounded little child inside of you.
Remember that all of us were wounded in one way or another, whether it was done by well-meaning parents who simply didn’t know what we needed emotionally, or whether we were abandoned, abused or neglected.
A Simple Exercise
Loving your inner child is a simple exercise that anyone can do. You can start by just imagining yourself as a baby or a young child and ask yourself, “If this little person was my son (or daughter), how would I show him (or her) that I love him?”
Would you hug him or hold him? Would your show a genuine interest in him or spend some quality time with him? Would you laugh and play with him?
What kind, loving words would you say to this little person? Would you want to say some of these things?
“I love you just the way you are!”
“You’re handsome (beautiful), special and important to me!”
“I understand better than anyone what you’ve been through!”
“I’ll never leave you, no matter what!”
“What could I do to make you happy today?”
You could also say some of the words you always wanted to hear from your parents. If you take a moment, you’ll probably think of what some of those words or phrases would be.
It’s also a great idea to practice loving your inner child on a regular basis, for example every morning when you first wake up. Sometimes it helps to write a letter to your inner child and tell him (or her) how sorry you are for what happened and how dedicated and determined you are to helping him (or her) overcome the past and make a better life in the future.
Be aware that when you first start trying to love your inner child, you may find it challenging. Clients often tell me in counseling that they don’t want to love their inner child or somehow they believe that they just can’t. I’ve found that this is often because they are still blaming themselves for what happened in their childhood.
It’s not Your Fault!
It’s never a good idea to blame your child self for what happened to you back then. It’s never a child’s fault that he (or she) was hurt or abused. It’s always the responsibility of the adults in the situation. However, it’s very common for children to think it’s their fault and blame themselves. That’s actually where guilt, shame and self-hate come from.
Children are egocentric, or in other words, they believe the world revolves around them. If a child was loved and cherished every day of his (or her) life, he believes it’s because he is a special and wonderful human being. If, on the other hand, he (or she) was abandoned, neglected or abused, or not emotionally supported in the ways he needed, that it’s because he did something wrong.
Children honestly believe that when they are treated negatively, it means that they are bad children or ‘not good enough’ to be treated with love and kindness. When a child suffers extreme trauma, neglect or abuse, his (or her) guilt, shame and self-hate will also be extreme.
If you are struggling with any of these issues, you may want to consider finding a compassionate counselor or psychotherapist to help you face the truth of what really happened to you and how it has affected your adult life. It really helps to have someone you trust validate the truth of your experience.
Keep Loving the Child Within
Whatever you do, don’t stop loving your inner child! Stay persistently focused on it until you can really imagine this little person becoming a healthy, happy child.
It’s very important to understand that you were just an innocent little boy or girl who was hurt or neglected. By doing that, you can begin to let go of the guilt, shame and self-hate that you have carried.
Loving your inner child helps your bright, beautiful future to really begin!
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