Childhood trauma isn’t easy to shake. The difficult things we deal with as children can follow us the rest of our lives. Those lingering experiences look different for everyone — a scary accident, conflict at home, bullying at school, the loss of a loved one or even a friend moving away — but the results are often the same. Carrying this kind of pain can affect your self-esteem and self-worth. It can make you depressed and anxious. It can leave you feeling stuck and emotionally fragile.
We may try and bury these traumatic events. We ignore them and hope they’ll go away. Yet, a damaged inner child cannot heal on their own. Just as you didn’t know how to cope back then, your inner child still needs care and guidance to deal with their painful feelings.
It’s time to look after the part of yourself that has long been in pain. Grab a journal and write it down or look in the mirror and say these four things to your inner child to get that healing journey started:
“You are loved.”
Children deserve love but not every child gets it. Maybe your parents didn’t show any affection or your peers rejected you, whatever the case those feelings of being unlovable can last a long time. It can damage your self-esteem and affect your ability to accept love in future relationships. When you look in the mirror, take a moment and remind your inner child that they are loved, no matter what has happened in the past
Did you often feel ignored and unheard as a child? Some kids are told not speak unless spoken to, others are naturally quiet and shy. Some have to compete with siblings for attention and some are simply neglected. Regardless of what left you feeling voiceless as a child, it’s not too late to express yourself. It might help to write down what that kid wanted to say. Read it over and tell your inner child how much they matter.
“You didn’t deserve this.”
Children are inherently innocent. If you deal with guilt and regret over something you did or were involved in as a kid, you deserve forgiveness. You didn’t deserve the bad things that happened to you — like your parents’ divorce or abuse you received. Show your inner child some compassion and let them know whatever happened wasn’t their fault.
“You did the best you could.”
As a child, you did the best you could with the tools you had. It’s easy as adults to look back and judge ourselves for, say, not standing up to a bully. Just remember, you were a kid. You were still learning and developing. Don’t beat yourself up now because your child self didn’t have the ability to think with the adult mind you have now. Instead of looking back with regret, look back with pride that the child you were was able to persevere and move ahead despite the challenges they faced. Forgive yourself for childhood mistakes and be proud you are who you are now.