Emotional, physical and sexual abuse during childhood creates a lost, frightened and frozen child within us. If we are unable to reach this lost and wounded child we may never heal ourselves. We prefer not to remember the sufferings of childhood, so we bury them and hide. We run away from seeing deeply into the causes of our suffering. Whenever the memories arise, however fleetingly, we think we cannot handle them and deflect them into the deepest realms of our unconsciousness mind. This results in the wounded child not being seen for a long time simply because we are terrified of further suffering.
Although we may now be adult, there is also a little boy in us, a little girl in us, who is so afraid and suffers deeply, no matter what kind of happy pretend face we present to life. This suffering child within our adult frame colors everything we do, generating our fears, insecurities and self-loathing, wounding us in our relationships and life. That wounded child is you, is me, and we must extend a different energy to him so that the energy of childhood suffering can be understood, defused and transformed. Mindfulness is the way through to the inner child. We have to embrace him, embrace her exactly where they are caught by the past – in fear and with anger at being neglected for so long. Moreover we have to be very skilful.
This means touching the seeds of childhood suffering from an adult state of being mindful and aware, knowing that we must make it safe for that child to come out from hiding behind the closed doors of suffering and pain. It is we as adults who must no longer run away. We must have the courage and awareness to bring healing to our hurt inner child and thereby produce a transformation for ourselves. The steps we take are not only to heal ourselves, we somehow connect to all wounded children – those in our ancestors and descendants and elsewhere in the world. For once we cultivate the seeds of mindful healing in ourselves, the energy of these seeds continues on into all that we interconnect with. A quantum leap from our cellular memories to everyone else’s throughout time and space. With awareness we take our inner child into our daily life, on picnics, walks, sitting at the dining room table and doing the dishes together. Patiently realizing that we are on a splendid adventure to bring the cycle of suffering to a close, for it may have persisted over generations. Thus we are healing and transforming generations of ingrained patterns transmitted from our ancestors and continued through us to our descendants. Such patterns build up like corrosive rust through time and amplify the fears and suffering of the wounded inner child
There are many methodologies of therapy that address issues of the inner wounded child. The one I am going to describe is simple and anyone can do it. It is a first step and I recommend that it be practiced under the guidance of a therapist, shaman or spiritual teacher. You are going to start a diary or log book for you and the inner child to write to one another. The adult you will write using the hand that you normally write with. You begin by saying “hello” to Little John, to Little Allison. Then go on to say how sorry you are for having been away and neglectful; that you are grown up now and strong, and that you are going to do everything to make it safe for Little John, for Little Allison. They will be safe, loved and cherished. Write in your own words along these lines.
Then with your other hand, the one you do not write with, allow the inner child to express herself. Do not edit. Just write down whatever comes out. It may well be angry, blaming and abusive words that come out, and it is your job not to be shocked or defensive but to provide constant re-assurance, love and guidance. You bring to this communication with the wounded inner child all the qualities of love, compassion and wisdom you can muster. These are the seeds of mindfulness you consciously bring to support the wounded child inside you. The energy of these seeds works on the energy of the traumatized inner child to reduce his pain and suffering. Talk to him through writing in this way – with total love and acute mindfulness. Then read your diary entries out loud – placing yourself in your adult shoes and then in your inner child’s shoes. This simple act of reading out loud is a way for both of you to be heard. On a daily basis register with how deeply your understanding and love is getting through to the wounded child, for she is listening carefully to every word and knows that you are now listening to her. You draw closer – the adult and the inner child – as you bring awareness, love and healing to the suffering and pain of the child.
Details of trauma may be revealed that you did not know about, which is why you need the help and guidance of a trusted therapist, shaman or spiritual teacher. This is to support you being a wise and loving parent to your wounded child. And with time you will notice shifts and changes in patterns of expression as the child becomes trusting and starts to grow, eventually merging fully with you as an adult. (You also learn to write very well with your other hand!) In your letters tell your inner child about yourself and your life, take him on outings, treats and give to that child all the care, attention and love you feel you did not receive when you were a little boy, a little girl. The suffering will diminish and you will experience such a transformation, for you discover that your relationships with co-workers, friends and family start to change, and your fears of the past and anxieties about the future do not have the same driving force. When you notice things like this tell your inner child: “Thank you for being with me. That makes me so happy.” The experience of being with the inner child in the healing journey is a stimulus for this kind of happiness. There are times you may cry, or feel total joy and also suffer despair, which is why guidance and support is necessary on this beginning journey of reclaiming yourself. You need that wise spiritual friend and teacher to keep you steady and mindful. I know, for I went through it. I am happy to say that it worked for me, as I experienced the painfully slow establishment of trust, then the exhilarating joy of safety and integration, until finally my inner child was the adult me, integrated with a freshness and vitality that I continually treasure. Ultimately there is only one pair of shoes!