Do you remember how it felt to be a child? Some of you recall happy and stable childhoods where you were loved and nurtured. Some of you remember feeling smothered, knowing that you were loved but vaguely unsure of why it made you unhappy. Some of you barely felt loved at all. And sadly, some remember being neglected or actively abused.
Many of my clients who come to me with seemingly insurmountable challenges in their lives, more often than not, realise during their consultations with me that their current problems are rooted in events and situations that occurred when they were young. Wounded as children and told to Get over it, Stop crying or I’ll hit you again, or Sit down and shut up, we did as we were told in order to avoid further mistreatment. But deep inside us, our inner child never healed from unresolved hurts.
How do wounded children behave? We’ve all seen young children tripping, falling over, and screaming their lungs out. We’ve seen frightened kids freeze, wet their pants, hurt themselves, hit other kids. Wounded children express their pain to the world in the hope that someone will help.
It doesn’t matter what age you are now. If your inner child has been wounded and left unhealed, you will tend to revert to certain actions, attitudes and behaviours that reveal that inner child’s vulnerability. You may have grown, but that inner child is still right there, deep inside you. Waiting for love, help and comfort. And in times of stress, that wounded inner child comes out and hijacks the show, no matter how well you’ve been running it.
The young man who fights with his boss – who resembles his own father. The middle-aged woman who can’t trust men, then hates herself for being single. The young woman whose eating disorders have taken over her life.
There is no one whose inner child is completely unhurt; in this beautiful but broken world of ours, there are only degrees of hurting, and degrees of healing. What is important is that we recognise when our inner child calls to us for healing, and that we respond.
And that’s where the challenge lies for many of us. We’re so well-conditioned to rationalise our childhood experiences, to suppress our negative emotions, that even when Spirit lovingly reveals to some of my clients that they have inner-child issues to deal with, they resist.
“Oh, that can’t be me. I’m strong now.”
“That was such a long time ago.”
“I’ve forgotten. It doesn’t matter anymore.”
Healing can only begin when we see and recognise the wounds. Here are seven signs of a wounded inner child that I’ve noted, both from my own personal experience as well as my professional encounters with close to a thousand clients. You may or may not find that these signs resonate with what you’re going through. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” definition for this, but you might find this list useful. Here we go:
1. Playing roles + wearing masks to hide your true Self.
Do you find that you’re a very different person around different people, almost as if you were playing roles to please other people, get the job done, meet your own objectives etc? And that if you were asked to strip away all those roles you play and masks you put on to get through the day, you might not know who lies beneath that elaborate masquerade? This is frequently a response to parental or familial pressure for us to live, look or behave a certain way in order to gain approval. For instance, many closeted LGBT people I meet (especially those from conservative or religious family backgrounds) struggle with this.
I’m not talking about the usual tiredness or stress from work or life’s issues. I’m talking about a deep, deep weariness in your soul that just won’t go away no matter what you try. It’s an exhausting task to keep those masks on. And even if you don’t feel that you’re wearing a mask and you are living a life that’s true to your real Self, remember that an untreated wound can still drain your life energy. With this weariness frequently comes a chronic boredom – you can’t muster any strong sense of purpose or passion for life, and deep down you suspect sometimes that you’re just drifting listlessly with the tide.
3. An unstable approach to guilt and shame.
Just to clarify: guilt is a response to what you’ve done: I did something wrong. Shame is a response to who you are: Something is wrong with me. People whose inner children are severely wounded cannot draw a clear line between guilt and shame. It’s all black-and-white for them. When something negative happens, they either take on all the blame and condemn themselves in the process (a client once told me, to my horror, Yes it’s my fault for [a minor mistake she made at work], I’m s**t and I have a talent for f**king up!), or they reject responsibility completely because their inner child is terrified of being blamed and possibly punished: enter the finger-pointing and mud-slinging. Wounded inner children tend to over-react and “take it personally” when things go wrong, and find it difficult to separate people from issues when solving a dispute.
4. Stuck in a time warp of excessive worrying.
Wounded inner children have lost all sense of time because their attention is focused almost entirely on their wounds. To them, the next catastrophe is just around the corner, and as children, they feel powerless to stop it. Never mind if they’re already adults, their lives are going well and the feared crisis doesn’t happen. The wounded inner child cannot differentiate perception from reality, and therefore can never be at peace. It goes without saying that the wounded inner child never truly lives in the present, but is either fretting about something that happened in the past or anxious about what might happen in the future – or, frequently, both.
5. Inability to trust and/or discern who can be trusted.
Another characteristic of people with wounded inner children is that their relationship networks are inadequate. Either they don’t have friends, their friendships are superficial, or they’re surrounded by frenemies – people who can’t actually be trusted and don’t have their interests at heart. Wounded inner children frequently find themselves also stuck in co-dependent romantic relationships (or disturbingly intense “friendships”) which are not grounded in respectful, loving give-and-take, but rooted in an overwhelming fear of loneliness and a tendency to become overly attached. It’s extremely common, by the way.
6. Distorted perceptions of reality.
Life feels like one long thunderstorm with occasional bursts of sunshine. You live for those moments of peace and happiness; once those precious moments are threatened, you plunge straight into the depths again. I once spoke with a beautiful young woman who needed reassurance about her new love relationship. During our conversation, she become highly emotional and began weeping, saying things like I knew it, I knew this was too good to be true, my boyfriend is leaving me, I wish I could just go to sleep and never wake up… I was alarmed to hear that. When I asked what had happened, she told me that her boyfriend had a severe migraine once and had to go home early from a date. That was enough to convince her that her relationship was over and she had no reason to live! (By the way, I know the boyfriend personally. He loves her to bits and wants to marry her.) Sounds crazy? Perhaps, but anyone would go “crazy” from the pain if their inner children were wounded for so long and never had the chance to heal.
7. Difficulty connecting with oneself, others, Spirit or the Universe.
As I mentioned earlier, wounded inner children cannot focus on anything else other than their pain. Whether consciously or unconsciously, their efforts are spent almost entirely on trying to heal, suppress, or rationalise their hurt feelings. Consequently, it’s hard for them to know what they’re really feeling, to empathise with other people, or to connect with a Higher Power. It’s hard to believe that Spirit and the Universe love you when you can’t even love yourself, after all. By the way, this applies even to spiritual people and light workers. I’ve found that sometimes, the hardest nuts to crack (to put it bluntly) are the people who have psychic gifts and who may even be practitioners. They inevitably hit a roadblock in their spiritual development and wonder why they’re not going anywhere, no matter what they do.
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Now let’s be clear: many of these points can also be explained with other reasons such as intense stress, personality quirks etc. But if many of these points are resonating with you, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if something’s up with your inner child. Last week, I spoke about the importance of being honest with ourselves. I’d like to add that it’s also crucial to be kind to ourselves; maybe that’s our homework for this week, haha! 😀
And next week, I’ll be talking about ways to heal the inner child.
Always remember (even if you’re not feeling it) that you are loved and not alone. This is a broken but beautiful world. Nothing is impossible, and your inner child can be healed. The Universe is kind, and Spirit loves you! Only believe! <3
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The stories on this website (including the above recounts) are based on Kelly’s experiences as a lightworker. Some details have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals involved.