This week my dad had a nasty fall and really hurt himself. Thankfully he is well and, on the mend, now. The event brought up some deep pain from my past and my childhood.
Emma Our Principal Tutor and head of pastoral care took over teaching this weekend, and I took some time out to relax and reflect, she looks after me as well as the students.
It was also module 9 this weekend so our inner child workshop weekend. Although an emotional few days, it’s been an opportunity to think about and nurture my inner child too.
A child who has endured trauma and abuse in various forms must adapt to the stress and pain inflicted upon them. Whether the abuse is emotional, physical, or sexual, it invariably leaves a lasting mark on the child's development.
In an abusive environment, a child often becomes solely focused on the external world, gradually losing the ability to look inward and nurture their self-esteem. By delving into the unmet dependency needs of the child, we encounter the wounded inner child.
Abuse hinders a child's natural development, suppressing their feelings of anger and pain, and repeatedly belittling and rejecting their needs. Consequently, the innocent child is compelled to construct a false self as a survival mechanism. This defence mechanism persists into adulthood, resulting in low self-esteem, identity struggles, and difficulties in communication and setting boundaries with others.
For me this came in the form of people pleasing and the wounded inner child continues to influence the behaviour of the adult. Intimacy with a partner can become challenging for someone who has never experienced love and lacks self-esteem.
Trusting others is also a struggle, and effective communication becomes elusive when one's own identity is unclear. Many times, individuals find themselves in a constant state of "acting" because they are disconnected from their true needs.
This was certainly a reality for me as I resorted to destructive behaviours like substance abuse. For others its gambling, overeating, excessive physical activity, or excessive shopping can serve as ways to numb the lingering pain. Until these inner wounds are addressed, the "inner child" will continue to disrupt one's life. The core issue lies in the deep-seated wounded child within, and occasionally, individuals regress into childlike behaviours when triggered by specific events.
As survivors, we may not know any other way because our childhood needs were never met. Numerous resources exist for survivors of trauma and abuse seeking healing from within, with a particular focus on connecting with their "inner child." John Bradshaw, a New York Times best-selling author and a pioneer of the self-help movement, is our biggest influencer in the teaching of this work. He made significant contributions to this field through his research, books, and lectures.
His insights into healing the inner child have played a pivotal role in understanding and addressing complex PTSD, a condition that is still not widely recognised. Healing the traumatized inner child involves a profound journey into the depths of our souls to repair the damage at its source.
John Bradshaw's lectures and writings on this topic, available on platforms like YouTube, provide invaluable insights that have helped many individuals come to terms with their flashbacks and the formation of their character. This understanding empowers them to take control of their healing, although the guidance of a therapist can also be beneficial. Survivors of complex PTSD have experienced the rollercoaster of life for years, if not decades. They know what it's like to be triggered by flashbacks in the most inconvenient moments but continue to endure and move forward.
Healing from sexual abuse and trauma can be likened to a grieving process, but instead of mourning someone who has passed away, survivors grieve for their own shattered souls. Initially, there's shock and disbelief about the trauma, followed by denial, guilt, and pain. Anger at the abuser and those who should have protected them comes next, leading to a deep depression as reality sinks in. Eventually, survivors accept that their childhood was marred by abuse, yet they are still alive.
Various methods can be employed to treat survivors of complex PTSD. Most are familiar with psychotherapy (talk therapy) and may have explored additional techniques such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Integral eye movement therapy and reprocessing (IEMT), and hypnotherapy sessions. Some have ventured into alternative approaches like theatre, movement, mindfulness, and yoga. Medications, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic drugs, have been used to alleviate symptoms associated with CPTSD.
Each treatment approach can be effective to varying degrees, depending on the individual and their unique set of symptoms and experiences. Exploring and healing the "inner child" is a critical aspect of recovery.
This process often involves revisiting traumatic moments and offering the child within the love and reassurance they needed at that time. It also entails recognizing that the abuse deprived them of their developmental and basic needs, which continue to impact their adult life. This realization can lead to a deeper understanding of oneself.
Reconnecting with the wounded inner child means revisiting the past traumas, acknowledging the hurt, grieving together for the neglect and ignorance suffered due to the abuse, and considering what should have happened instead. Reaching out and reassuring the inner child can be a transformative part of this healing journey.
The benefit of doing this work with a hypnotherapist and in trance is that it we can do it dissociated. We can be effective in the reviewing aknowledging and healing of the event without relieving of all the pain.
In my personal healing journey, I created a timeline of my childhood and life, focusing on the most painful and isolating trauma events. I documented what happened during those moments and how I felt, being brutally honest with myself. This process brought my childhood experiences to the forefront, unveiling the immense pain and suffering I had endured. Persistent unhelpful reactions to family events, nightmares and lingering misery prompted me to dive deeper into healing my wounded inner child, as explored by John Bradshaw.
Healing the inner child is most effective when addressing each developmental wound one at a time, examining how each pain has affected and continues to affect the individual as an adult. If doing this work in hypnosis it can be deeply healing and can bring bout rapid transformation
In the midst of any healing journey, remember to regularly check in with yourself: - How are you feeling today? - What is on your mind? - Are there any stress or tension in your body? - What can you do to feel better?
Taking care of oneself is essential because you do matter. I found doing something playful is helpful and I enjoy colouring in.
A variety of literature on healing the inner child is available in all bookshops authored by experts in the field, including John Bradshaw, Cathryn Taylor, Mary McDonald, Virginia Jacobs, Faye Mack, Robert Jackman, and Don Barlow.
These resources can be instrumental in your healing journey. Looking to do more healing work with a hypnotherapist connect with Amanda Joy and, she can work with you or she can help to refer you to one of her graduates, who all are trained in this area of work.