(Side note: it is very common for people to feel a welling up of sadness (tears are also common) when tapping into your child self. This is completely normal. Let the emotions move through you. This is the healing already taking place.)
Once you’ve written down anywhere from 5-20 traits, you can move on to the next step.
On a separate piece of paper, or lower down on the same page, you’ll then write “Ideal Inner Adult:”.
Now, think about who you are when you are at your best, today. How do you show up in the world? What are the unique ‘dance moves’ that you bring to every interaction you have with people you like? How do you interact with the world when you are your most relaxed, authentic self?
Again, write down a list of short, bullet-point notes to describe your ideal inner adult. You might write things like calm, confident, generous, loyal, creative, or any other number of traits that feel true for you.
Once you have written down a list of 5-20 things, you’ll move on to the final step of this practice.
Having gotten in touch with these two inner selves, you’ll now be engaging in a slow, intentional conversation between these two parts.
You’ll start (as you always will) with the inner child.
Take a fresh sheet of paper, and write, on the left hand side of the page, “Inner child:”, and then allow him or her to speak to you freely. Allow them to tell you whatever it is they want to tell you.
If you have not been in the practice of checking in with your inner child for any years, the voice might not come to you right away. Which is totally fine. Just as you wouldn’t rush a small child to speak to you in real life, you’re allowed to give your own inner child ample spaciousness to tell you whatever they need to.
Perhaps they want to tell you that they miss playing and want to do it more. Or maybe they want you to know that they’re angry at you for ignoring them for so long. Whatever they want to tell you, it is all welcome.
If you notice that your inner child is speaking in big, heady, multi-syllabic words, then it could be a sign that you aren’t yet truly tapped into your inner child. And you may need to take some deep breaths, move your body, and allow the messages to come through in their own time.
Remember, if the process of getting in touch with your inner child is challenging, that isn’t something to make yourself wrong for. You are doing courageous, important work. And an inner child who is reluctant to speak is simply an inner child that doesn’t yet feel safe to express his or her self. Give them time. There is no rush.
Once your inner child gives you a clear message, it is then time for the “Ideal Inner Adult” to respond. You then have a written dialogue between the two of you, until the session feels like it has reached an ending. There is no correct number of back-and-forths that a session needs to have. Some days it might only be two paragraphs of text, and other days it might be 3, 5, or 10 pages of writing. It is entirely up to you. You do the practice until your inner child feels heard.
So that’s the practice. Get in touch with your inner child, and your inner adult. Then, have them dialogue back and forth on a piece of paper. In future sessions, you don’t need to do the first half of the practice over again… you simply do the dialogue portion and allow these parts to speak to each other.
I generally recommend that when this practice is new to you, there’s value in doing the practice regularly. Some people enjoy doing the practice daily, while others benefit more from doing it a few times per week. The frequency with which you engage in reparenting is up to you. Whatever feels most self-honouring is what will work best.
3. Honour your inner child’s messages to you
Whatever messages your inner child tells you, act on them.
Just like any relationship, sitting down and taking intentional time to listen to the other person’s inner world is important. But if your inner child is telling you what desires they have, then the logical next step is to take action on incorporating what they’re asking for.