Inner Child Work
Inner child work can save you years of frustration, heartache and energetically ‘living in your parents’ house well into adulthood.
The idea is that you have been using food and perhaps other substitutes to compensate for what you needed as a child, but did not get.
In inner child work, we cut out food as the middleman and deal directly with the needs of our inner child.
You can get bogged down in what those needs might have been, but to me the most user friendly definition of these unmet needs is unconditional positive regard (UPR).
This article has more on this
(NB I hesistated to link to this as the title talks about loving bad kids, which is a bit of a dodgy statement, but the content is sound)
To me, inner child work is taking on the loving parent role and offering your inner child some UPR. Before I tried the tools below, I used to scorn ideas like self parenting, but I have found this to be amazingly effective. The tools below cost nothing or next to nothing, and do not take much time.
See this article on inner child work:
Three Tools For Inner Child Work
Tool #1: Homecoming by John Bradshaw
An important book. Describes the inner child at different stages from infancy to early adolescence, and has questionnaires so you can identify at what stage your inner child needed help.
Tool #2 - Writing Conversations
I got this idea from Lucia Capacchione’s Recovery of Your Inner Child. There is no need to buy this book, because the idea is very simple - so save your money (unless you are particularly interested in seeing a lot of examples).
How It Works
You need a piece of paper (well I needed quite a few!), a pen and a pencil or preferably pencil crayon/felt tip.
#1 Make sure you are as relaxed as possible
#2 Write any opening to your inner child in this conversation, using the pen. It could be “Hello, what’s your name?” or “Hello, how are you feeling today?”
#3 Now pick up the pencil/felt tip with your non dominant hand and reply as the child version of you. I was amazed at how effective having a childish writing instrument AND writing in my non dominant hand was at helping me slip into child mode. Your writing will be pretty illegible but it doesn’t matter.
#4 Now reply as your parent self using the pen and dominant hand.
#5 Keep dialoguing like this for as ling as you like.
IMPORTANT: I always end the convo with me as the parent .
What I found was that my role in parent mode was to listen and reassure. It felt like I kept repeating sentences like “I’m listening/ I love you my precious baby/ Tell me more” ad infinitum. I could feel my inner child’s rage receding as I did this.
Tool #3 - Have Lunch With Your Inner Child
When you have got comfortable with the slow eating games and are ready for the 30 minute slow down meals, your inner child may start talking to you at these meals.
This is more of a watch and see what happens thing than an activity you do, although you could have a written convo where you invite them to sit with you while you eat lunch..
Soon after I started the 30 minute meals practice, I started having mini tantrums of a minute or so. I recognised this as my inner child not wanting to sit with herself.
Having done the dialoguing via the writing exercises above, it was the logical step to carry those dialogues on at the table. I did this verbally. So I would have the tantrum, then when the energy for that lulled, I would switch to loving parent mode and reassure her. “It’s OK, we can do this, I love you my precious girl.”
I have found this very effective.
Some Personal Thoughts
I was quite shocked at the rage my inner child had, and how easily it flowed out of that pencil crayon.
My job was as I saw it very clear: to listen and reassure her. She called me fucking bitch; I wrote back with I love you my precious girl. I asked her what she wanted; I guessed at things she was feeling.
One of the most transformative things I got out of these written exchanges was that they helped me stand up to certain people in my life. My inner child trampled all over the excuses I had been making for years: "Yes, it wasn't fair when X did Y, but they just didn't have the people skills" etc etc. That was just my disempowered empath cover stories, fighting the corner of the very people who I had very weak boundaries with.
(It may have been true that X wasn't able to to A B and C, but that is not a reason to put their needs before mine or continue a vampire-empath relationship where I regularly let them walk all over me)
I knew I had a choice to make: to honour relationships that drained the life force out of me; or to honour the needs of my inner child. I could not do both.
This is not general advice; we all have different relationship dynamics, and I am pleased to say that most of my clients come to more harmonious resolutions with people with whom there had been resentment and disempowerment.