No matter how old you get or how much responsibility you take on, you still have an inner child that lives within you. Your “inner child” consists of your earliest memories. It’s the part of you that’s completely unconditioned, nonjudgmental, and innocent. Your inner child lives for creative expression, wonder, fun, and joy. It’s the voice that’s always rooting for you to feel happy, fulfilled, and free.
The sad news is that most of us have completely lost touch with our inner child. We spend our days working really hard to accumulate things, meet deadlines, and achieve success. Instead of living for the moment, we repeatedly recall past hurts and agonize over future worries. We conform and contort our personalities to make sure we’re following every societal rule to fit in and be accepted. In the process, we lose our connection with that pure, innocent, and joyful inner child.
Even more unfortunate, most of us start losing touch with our inner child as young as only four or five years old. The more we listen to the (often well-intentioned) adults around us, the more we take on the burden of cultural norms and expectations. We start to judge ourselves very harshly and create a lot of strict boundaries in order to be seen as “good,” and “likable,” and “successful.” In addition, whenever we get hurt (both physically and emotionally), we build up defensive walls as protection. As years (and decades) pass, we drop more and more of our connection with our wild, creative, joyful inner child.
But here’s the good news: that inner child within you can never be truly lost. You can seem to temporarily drop your connection with your inner child. But your inner child is always present within you. In other words, your inner child is always speaking to you, even though most of the time you aren’t aware of the message.
That’s where inner child work comes in. Inner child work is, simply, any practice that helps you heal and reestablish your connection to that unconditioned and nonjudgmental aspect of yourself.
Here are 5 Simple Practices to Help You Reconnect with Your Inner Child:
1.) Speak To Yourself the Way You’d Speak to a Child
Become an observer of your inner dialogue and self talk. How do you speak to yourself in your own mind? What kinds of things do you think to yourself when you look in a mirror, for example, or get ready to go into a social situation? How do you speak to yourself internally after you’ve made a mistake or failed to meet your own expectations?
When I first tried this particular practice, I was, in all honesty, horrified at the way I spoke to myself. I never realized how much my internal voice was consumed with constant criticisms over my appearance, my home, my performance as a mom, my creative work, etc., etc. I wouldn’t speak to my worst enemy – let alone a sweet and innocent child – the way I speak to myself inside my head!
So begin speaking to yourself the way you’d speak to a 5-year-old child. Try an experiment for a week and, instead of the criticisms and judgments, try being encouraging, loving, and accepting of yourself. When you catch yourself engaging in negative self talk, remember your inner child and try again. Understand that you deserve the same treatment that little children do, because you’ll never find kindness and compassion in the world if you can’t find kindness and compassion for the child inside of you.
2.) Try an Inner Child Meditation
To connect with your inner child during meditation, begin by slowing down and becoming present. Light a candle, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take several slow, deep breaths. When your mind is calm, visualize the 5-year-old child you once were. See that innocent little child standing in front of you. Give her a hug.
Then try asking her some questions. Maybe ask, “What have I forgotten about you that I should remember?” Or, “What do you need me to know right now?” Or, “How can I better connect with you today?”
Sit in open-minded and quiet contemplation, and see what answers arise.
3.) Schedule Time with Your Inner Child
As all parents know, young children live to play and explore! Left to their own devices, little kids will just bound from one fun activity to the next. Unfortunately, we lose our natural ability to follow our joy as we drop our connection to our inner child.
So schedule time into your calendar to reconnect. Just 20 minutes, a couple of days a week, is enough to get started. There’s only one rule for this scheduled time with your inner child: focus only on creativity and fun! Let go of any need to accomplish anything specific. Don’t set any goals for this time. Just try to choose an activity that you think will bring you joy. You can brainstorm activities by saying, “One thing that might be fun is_________” and just write down whatever comes to mind.
Also think about the specific activities that really lit you up as a little kid. If you loved to color pictures, buy some art supplies and try painting. If you loved to dance, maybe try an online dance class. If you loved to swim, take a trip to a local beach.
4.) Communicate with Your Inner Child
Here’s a practice that will bring you a lot of insight. Try writing a letter or a journal entry to your inner child. Begin this practice as you would a meditation. Light a candle, sit comfortably, and take several slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes and allow your mind to become completely still.
Then, just start writing. What do you want to say to your inner child? Do you feel any regrets about losing touch with her as you grew into adulthood? What do you miss most about her? What can she teach you now? How do you plan to show up for her in your life moving forward?
Write anything and everything that comes to mind, without trying to edit yourself. Return to the letter/journal entry a few days later and reread it for new insights. You’ll probably surprise yourself with your own words of wisdom!
5.) Make Space for Your Inner Child
One of the easiest ways to reconnect is to simply set an intention to remember your inner child. Once you verbalize a clear intention without resistance (opposing thoughts), the universe goes to work to bring the experience of that intention into your life. So you can just state a clear intention when you wake up in the morning, and see what thoughts, ideas, and actions arise in your day. Louise Hay suggests the following affirmation: “I’m willing to learn to love my inner child.”
Quotes About Reconnecting With Your Inner Child
“The cry we hear from deep in our hearts comes from the wounded child within. Healing this inner child’s pain is the key to transforming anger, sadness, and fear.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“We can’t love and accept each other until we love and accept that lost child within us.” – Louise Hay