Over the past couple of years, the term “Inner Child” has become increasingly popular, especially on TikTok, but what does it really mean?
According to Kim Egal, “inner child” refers to the part of you that may be holding on to pain, trauma, and emotional distress you experienced in the past. Many of these affect your ability to function and may have led to mental health problems and even physical health problems in your adult life.
So, what exactly does it mean to “tap into your inner child”?
Many psychologists praise this method due to its ability to access this part of you that is hurting, even when you don’t realise it. In this context, “Tap into” means to “get back in touch” or “connect with” and therefore, this phrase means to connect with the part of your past that you may be holding onto and is causing distress, hurt, and trauma, and ultimately heal that part of you.
When we experience difficulty as an adult, the hurt little child in you often shows up. That same feeling of rejection from a group at work, where you just don’t feel included is often the same feeling you may have felt as a child when that friendship group didn’t let you play a game with them.
Or the way that your boss talked down to you that one time, brought back memories of the way your father mistreated you as a child.
We all have moments of pain and trauma that happened in our childhood, and we often only remember these when we have a similar experience later in life. That is the inner child, the little version of you that is still hurting and holding onto painful memories.
Think about when you were a child… what was it that brought you joy?
Many of the things that brought us joy in our childhood are simple, whether that is your childhood tv show, baking, colouring, going on the swings at the park…
While they may be simple things, as a child they brought this free sense of wonder, excitement, and complete awe.
As we get older, this sense of wonder, awe, and excitement drifts away, whether due to pain and trauma, or simply just “growing up”, and this is when we lose ourselves.
So, how do we “tap into our inner child”?
Simply, do the things that brought you joy, wonder, and excitement as a child. Watch your favourite childhood movie, listen to the songs you sang in the car with you mother on the way to school, write a letter to your younger self, bake (and make it messy if you wish!)… Do whatever it is that connects you to that sense of nostalgia.
Protect your inner child from the memories that bring you pain. When you feel them, connect with your inner child, tell them that it is okay, that they are safe, they are loved, and give them time to be a child.