Once you learn how to heal your inner child, you can begin to overcome your deepest blocks and finally show up as your best self.
Your inner child is the part of you that was formed by the experiences you had in your childhood and that has a powerful influence on how you show up in the world as an adult. If you find yourself engaging in self-destructive behavior or sabotaging yourself with negative self-talk, or reacting too impulsively to situations with anger, frustration, jealousy or fear, that is almost certainly a function of your wounded inner child acting out in anger or pain.
That’s why today, I want to discuss how to heal your inner child so you can overcome the blocks that have been holding you back from unlocking your full potential and become the person you are meant to be.
What is an Inner Child?
First, let’s talk about what your inner child is. Basically, it’s your original state of innocence – the playful, inquisitive, sensitive child you once were. It’s not about being child-ish and immature, it’s about being child-like and experiencing the world in a state of wonder and curiosity.
However, because your inner child is so sensitive, he or she can be easily wounded, especially when exposed to pain and trauma. And we all know how painful and traumatic growing up can be!
Even the people who love us most can say and do things that hurt us and impact our self-esteem. But the wounds that were inflicted on your inner child won’t go away unless you acknowledge them and put in the time and effort to heal them. But most of us don’t want to do that.
Steps to Healing your Inner Child
Most of us are afraid to go back and revisit the experiences that hurt us deeply as children!
So we tell ourselves to simply “grow up” and hide away our pain and pretend it never happened. And as a result, our inner child remains wounded, scared, and miserable inside us – and causes us to act out in ways that prevent us from experiencing more happiness and fulfillment in life.
The first step is to heal your inner child is to let them know how much you love him or her. Because all children need love.
Think back to who you were when you were five, six or eight years old. What did you love to do back then? What did you dream of? What did you hope for? What kind of person did you want to grow up to be? What experiences did you want to have?
That child is still a part of you, and he or she deserves all the unconditional love in the world.
Make sure your inner child knows that.
One simple way to do that is to simply look into a mirror every night before you go to bed and say, “Three things I love about you today are…and then fill in the blank.” Or you can close your eyes, imagine what your inner child looks like – the four, five, six or seven-year-old self – and imagine saying it to them.
These are both simple but powerful practices.
Something else all children need from the people around them is patience. Children are in a constant state of learning, and learning involves mistakes.
Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. So if you are ever angry or frustrated with yourself for the mistakes you’ve made in the far or recent past, or if you are upset with yourself for not being further along in your life or your career, practice being more patient with yourself.
Achieving your goals often takes longer than you want because most people set deadlines for their goals without really knowing about everything that will be required to achieve them.
As I have stated several times in these videos, I usually set 21 goals every year. I usually achieve 75 to 80 percent of them in that time frame, but there are always several that I don’t achieve until the following one or two years.
If you are giving it your best efforts, be patient with your self. You may have to learn more information and develop more new skills and more new relationships than you originally imagined would be needed.
Train the Trainer Online
A couple of years ago Patty Aubery and I became aware that our Train the Trainer Online program would be extremely valuable for people transitioning out of collegiate, professional and Olympic sports careers, because a large number of them want to be motivational speakers, trainers and success coaches.
We have been working on that initiative for almost two years and just recently were able, after a long learning curve and a lot of networking, to finally get in front of a large group of active and retired NFL players two days before the Super Bowl at the NFL Players Association meeting in Atlanta.
Years ago when I used to lead ten-day workshops, I would teach everyone to juggle three tennis balls. And the reason I did it is that most people would get upset at themselves every time they dropped a ball, which is a lot when you are first learning. We would practice for 15 to 20 minutes a day every day of the workshop.
In the first few days, people would say, “I can’t do this, It’s too hard, I’m not good at physical things, I’ll never learn to do this. What’s the point of this anyway? What does this have to do with being more successful in life?”
Every time they would drop a ball, they would say “damn it” or even worse words.
On the third day, I replaced the balls with cubically shaped bean bags that wouldn’t bounce out of their hands so easily and wouldn’t roll away when they dropped them on the floor, demonstrating the principle of when you start something new, do it in baby steps and make it as easy as possible to be successful.
Find Your Phrases
Little successes breed confidence and that new confidence then leads to more success. I also taught them to say “oh what fun” every time they dropped a ball instead of saying “damn it” or “I can’t do this”, which is what most people were doing—replacing their negative self talk with positive self talk. We also practiced repeating the affirmation “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
When I recently spoke with Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion of the world who had won 42 fights in his career with 40 of them knock outs, he said that was the same affirmation he used every day as he was training for his boxing matches.
“Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
These are universal principles and practices that work.
I also have also practiced using the phrase “Oh what fun,” throughout my life whenever I made a mistake.
When I was coming home from Thailand, where I spoke with Mike Tyson, I missed my tight connection in Tokyo because of my jet lag that led me to read my flight number 33 as the gate number on my ticket.
I didn’t beat myself up about it. I just said, “Oh what fun,” went to the nearest United service counter and was rebooked on a later flight to Chicago and then on to Los Angeles.
I lost 12 hours due to that mistake, but so what. What good would it have done to beat myself up? None. I’m human. And I also make mistakes.
Usually people that beat themselves up for not being perfect had parents who expected perfection from their children, and as adults they have internalized those same expectations.
I remember a participant in one of my seminars who graduated number 2 in her class from Cal Tech, an amazing accomplishment. But do you know what her father said to her at her graduation? The only thing he said to her the entire day was, “Why weren’t you number one?”
When you internalize those kinds of standards and expectations, you end up living in constant stress and anxiety, and seldom is anything you do ever good enough. It can lead to a kind of obsessive perfectionism that no one wants to be around, or it can lead to not engaging in the kind of manageable risks that are required for success for fear of failing, of not measuring up.
Either result is not healthy or productive. It is important to heal these internalized childhood beliefs about what is enough.
The next thing I encourage you to give your inner child is forgiveness. All of us at some point have felt shame, anger, or sadness over something we did or did not do in our lives.
But the past is the past, and making mistakes is how you learn! So whatever horrible thing you think you did nor failed to do, forgive yourself for it. You were doing the best you could with the tools and knowledge you had at the time.
It’s okay to let it go.
Something else all children need in order to thrive in life is encouragement. They need to know that someone believes in them and thinks they have what it takes to achieve their goals.
So let your inner child know that he or she has the ability to accomplish anything he or she can imagine. Because it’s true.
If you can conceive it, and believe it, you can achieve it. You just have to go through the steps to make it happen – and not give up along the way. That’s why encouragement is so important.
Finally, the thing that all children need to thrive is the opportunity to play. Because that’s how children learn – through play – by having FUN and using their imagination and being curious about the world. So make sure your inner child has lots of opportunities to have FUN in life.
Pay attention to the things that fill you with delight, and do more of them more often. Let joy be your GPS system that leads you in the direction of creating a life you love. Because when you do what you love, you’ll never feel like your working, because you’ll be having so much fun.
Those are my tips on how to heal your inner child so you can enjoy showing up fully as your best self and make all your dreams a reality.
If you ever feel like you need help with healing your inner child, I encourage you to take one of our trainings, read our book on the Heart Freedom Method when it comes out, and also check out EFT or tapping as it is more commonly called.
It’s a powerful mind-body technique that allows you to heal your inner child and emotional wounds that have been holding you back. Just Google EFT or tapping or search for information about it on my website, and you’ll find lots of good stuff to get you started.
Now, I’d like to hear your thoughts after reading this blog. Have you been providing your inner child with the love, patience, forgiveness, encouragement, and opportunities for joy that it deserves? If not, what steps will you take to make that happen?
If you feel inspired, please leave a comment below with your answer. I’d love to read what you have to say! Thank you for reading – and remember, nothing in your life will change for the better until you do.
As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!
Image courtesy of Johannes Plenio.