How To Heal Your Inner Child?
In the field of personal development, and self-improvement as well as in popular as well as in psychology analytical psychology, the term inner child has taken on great importance. It refers to an adult individual’s individuals childlike aspect, including what a person learned subconsciously absorbed and learned as a child before puberty.
Among psychologists, the inner child is often conceived as a semi-independent subpersonality subordinate to the waking conscious mind. The term has therapeutic applications in counseling and health setting and became known to a broader audience through the books and educational videos of the human potential guru John Bradshaw.
Psychologist C.G. Jung (1875–1961) is often referenced as the originator of the concept in his divine child archetype. New Thought spiritual leader Emmet Fox (1886–1951) called it the “wonder child”.The concept of the inner child was further developed by husband and wife team Vivian and Arthur Janov in primal therapy, expounded in the books The Primal Scream (1970) and The Feeling Child (1973).
One method of reparenting the inner child in therapy was originated by art therapist Lucia Capacchione in 1976 and documented in her book Recovery of Your Inner Child (1991). Using art therapy and journaling techniques, her method includes a “nurturing parent” and “protective parent” within “inner family work” to care for a person’s physical, emotional, creative and spiritual needs (her definition of the inner child). It also posits a “critical parent within” and provides tools for managing it.
In his television shows, and in books such as Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child (1990), Bradshaw famously used “inner child” to point to unresolved childhood experiences and the lingering dysfunctional effects of childhood dysfunction: the sum of mental-emotional memories stored in the sub-conscious from conception thru pre-puberty.
Where I have found the concept of the inner child most useful has been in assisting my applied game theory clients in dealing with what is commonly call emotional baggage –
Emotional baggage is an everyday expression that correlates with many varied but similar concepts within social sciences, self-help movements, and other fields: its general concern is with unresolved issues of an emotional nature, often with an implication that the emotional baggage is detrimental.
As a metaphorical image, it is that of carrying all the disappointments, wrongs, and trauma of the past, especially childhood around with one in a heavy load that serves as a constraint to making the best choices.
In adult life, emotional baggage comes to the fore in most of our relationships.
The often negative expectations created by childhood trauma as well as later relationships, perhaps of an abusive nature — produce a kind of bondage to the past that can contaminate new and potentially more positive interactions.
Engaging in a specific therapeutic process that is often generically referred to as Inner Child Work can free us from this emotional bondage. To learn more about this I recommend any of the books and videos of John Bradshaw. They have helped me immensely.
Author: Lewis Harrison is an Independent Scholar with a passion for knowledge, personal development, self-improvement, and problem-solving. He is the creator of Harrison’s Applied Game Theory. He is also a white dude, raised by black people. His website is AskLewis.com
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