Here’s how to get started with the process of reparenting your own inner child.
It is an unequivocal fact that your childhood shaped who you are today.
And no matter how self-aware, loving, and supportive your parents were, it’s also a fact that they passed on their unprocessed emotions and unexamined habits on to you.
So, as you’ve grown from being a child to being an adult, the same unexamined behaviours and habits, and unprocessed emotions are still being carried inside of you.
Reparenting inner child
Reparenting is a phrase that sounds exactly like what it is: the literal act of reparenting your own inner child.
There are needs that you didn’t get met in your childhood. Needs that, until they are discovered and honoured, will wreak havoc in your adult life. The majority of addicts are simply people who have unprocessed pain, and unmet needs that have yet to be addressed.
And so as long as these unmet needs stay below the level of conscious awareness, we will be drawn towards binge eating, drugs, alcohol, over-working, compulsive exercise, over-spending, video game or internet addiction, and a whole host of other ways that people subtly or overtly numb themselves to their deeper needs.
But if you get in touch with these deeper needs, and take action on them, you will experience a level of freedom and ease that you have yet to enjoy.
You will experience more spontaneous joy, lightness, ease, and flow in your daily life. Life will no longer be monotonous drudgery. The compulsions you used to numb out with will lose their appeal, because you’ll be giving yourself what you actually need.
Not only that, but your relationships will have that much more peace, love, and connection in them. Which would naturally follow. We can only give others what we have practiced giving ourselves. So if you are loving, kind, and emotionally available to all parts of your own psyche, then you will finally be available to be genuinely kind, loving, and emotionally available to your significant other.
So how does one go about the process of reparenting their inner child?
It’s really quite simple. I have three points to make. Let’s get into it.
3 Ways To Reparent Your Inner Child
1. Play more
One of the subtle ways that adults chronically neglect and suppress their inner child is they fill their lives with busy work. Constant errands. Racing from one thing to the next. Layers upon layers of responsibilities.
It’s no wonder that a schedule such as this would leave little to no room for our inner child to feel safe.
So one of the most important preparatory steps you can make is to hold the intention to both create more spaciousness in your life, and to incorporate more play.
As Dr. Stuart Brown once said, “The opposite of play isn’t work, the opposite of play is depression.”
When we leave no room for silliness… playfulness… joy for joy’s sake in our lives, we shrivel up and collapse into ourselves.
So reorganize your values. Shake up your priorities so that you have a regular breathing room in your calendar. Find ways to play and prioritize pleasure and ease in your life, wherever possible.
Play more, and you will already be rebuilding trust with your inner child, which will lay the foundation for the forthcoming deeper reparenting work.
2. Regularly engage in reparenting journalling
If reparenting your inner child is a core focus for you in your inner work lately, then reparenting journalling will be your new best friend.
The exercise has multiple phases, and gets easier and simpler with time.
There are three phases to this practice, the first time that you do it.
First, take out a few sheets of paper. And yes, physically writing it out on paper is far better than writing it digitally (because writing it out with your hand is a slower process, and this is a process that you do not want to rush through).
Now, at the top of the first sheet of paper, write the words, “Inner Child:”. Then, think back to who you were as a child. Anywhere between the ages of 3-10 years old. How did you show up in the world? Who were you at your best? How did you interact with people, and the world around you? Once you have a picture in your mind about your child self, you’ll then write down, in short, bullet-point notes, different character traits that you displayed as a child.
For example, when doing this exercise, I wrote down things like sensitive, trusting, loving, excitable, adventurous, playful, and physically affectionate. So the points don’t have to be long or elaborate, they simply have to be true to you.