Are you wondering what are inner child wounds?
Before we get into that, let's first talk about the inner child.
What is the Inner Child?
Your inner child, similar to your shadow, is part of your unconscious mind.
The inner child is the true, uncontaminated essence of who we are; that which is spirited, creative, authentic, and accepting.
Your wounded inner child is a part of yourself that’s stuck in a time where you didn't fully process your emotions.
This wounding typically involves learning to disown a part of yourself and leaving it behind.
Family and culture make you embrace some parts of your Self, while completely abandoning others.
This happens when a child idealizes her parents and follows arbitrary rules for survival.
These rules implicitly embed the child with the unconscious idea that she is "bad"—which is a typical childhood experience.
When the child sees that some of her feelings and thoughts are unacceptable, she chooses to get rid of them.
(This creates the child’s “inner parent”, which encourages obedience at the cost of being whole.)
Then the rules and unconscious beliefs you learned as a child evolve and are carried into adulthood.
What are inner child wounds?
When a child is emotionally or existentially hurt, they can experience trauma.
Because a child is so small and inexperienced with life, along with being underdeveloped emotionally and mentally, they aren't able to fully process certain life events.
To put this in perspective—
An adult who experiences a parent passing away will be much more equipped than a child who is experiencing the same thing.
A child may even be a bit traumatized transitioning through grade school, being pulled from one familiar classroom, and being put into a new room full of new people.
This isn't to say that human beings aren't resilient. But it's to point out that everyone experiences things differently—some being more sensitive than others.
When a child is bullied at school, feels less important than their newborn sibling, witnesses divorce, experiences racism or abuse, or anything else they perceive as traumatizing—
A child might not be getting the secure love necessary to process these life events as best they can.
Emotions that are left unprocessed and undigested can leave the child with unhealthy, unconscious beliefs about their own existence.
Some examples of these beliefs include:
- Nobody can be trusted
- I’m blameless & you’ll always forgive me
- I’m always wrong
- I am pure
- I am helpless
- The world wants to dominate me
- I’ve always been a loser
- Everyone is ungrateful
You will unconsciously live out these positions in your relationships—even when it’s against your self-interest.
Until you become aware of this, your psyche is in arrested development.
Becoming aware of these underlying existential beliefs, engaging with the inner child and doing the proper grief work can help mend these wounds.
Signs of Inner Child Wounds
Here are a few signs that you have inner child wounds.
This is what people refer to when they say, "Stop making yourself small so others can feel big".
In childhood, you picked up the idea that you are not worthy of love. So for survival, you made yourself small.
This is a survival tactic that works in childhood, but no longer works in adulthood.
A habit of self-abandonment includes:
- Not Honoring Your Inner Voice
- Being overly passive
The best way to overcome these inner obstacles is to learn real self-love.
The unwillingness to experience certain emotions, and feelings of helplessness, can drive a person to addiction.
(Addiction being a self-destructive attempt to feel better.)
This includes feelings of loneliness, heartbreak, grief, sorrow, and helplessness over others.
Many people who find out that their partner is cheating on them, resort to drinking to dull their pain and feelings of helplessness.
An obscure form of addiction is to reassurance. Typically a "needy" person who lacks self-love and self-belief will constantly look for reassurance from their partner.
The issue is that this becomes a cycle of anxiety, where the relationship is no longer built of trust. Instead, it is built on vigilance.
This can happen when the "inner parent", or inner critic, has taken a strong hold of a person.
They live in a very black and white world where this is good and this is bad. There is no in-between.
The problem with this mentality is that it's too simplistic and unrealistic.
If you are brought up to learn that a person must make $120,000 per year or else they're a failure, then the person will live in shame of being a "failure" until they can achieve that feat.
If they ever do...
The biggest issue with the All-or-None mentality is that it's inherently very judgmental.
You are either lovable or unlovable.
What many people don't understand is that anyone who holds themselves as if they're universally superior to another person, morally or however, is someone who lacks self-awareness.
Ask any "all-or-nothing" thinker if they think they're a good or bad person, and they will say they are good.
This is because they are guaranteed to be unaware of the impact they have on others while in pursuit of their goal.
People who believe themselves to be superior have a tendency to take things out of context to maintain the false narrative that they are better than others.
Being consumed by an inner critic is how people fall into ideologies—
Proud of their own ignorance. Unable to see they only have parts of the whole truth. Completely in denial of any contradictions in their own behavior—
Because that would require being wrong. More importantly, it would require being more self-aware.
The more you try to control the uncontrollable, the less in control you feel.
This is because control and attachment are the same. Both are huge sources of suffering.
Controlling behavior is an attempt to get Love from outside of oneself. This can be in the form of validation, success, etc.
The problem is that you can't control what is beyond your control. So when you don't get what you feel you deserve, you become bitter.
There is no genuine fulfillment in controlling everything, aside from a short-lived shot of dopamine.
Lack of Boundaries
Not knowing where you begin and end leads to resentment towards others and the world.
You see this with people-pleasers and those who don't realize that it's completely acceptable to say "no" and not feel responsible for the other person's feelings.
Many people never learned to have boundaries growing up because theirs was always violated.
Learning boundaries is essential for self-respect as well as learning how to be assertive.
Neglecting Our Own Needs
Although it's perfectly fine asking others to help fulfill our more sensible needs. It's crucial to understand that the person who can best fulfill your own needs will always be yourself.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work Course is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This course is updated every year and gets new content at no additional cost. Learn more here.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This short course goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for people dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance bundle teaches you some holistic and systems thinking along with how to mend your inner child wounds so you can align with your higher self and move forward in life. This includes 20 video clips as a free bonus.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a small sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through my BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.