Inner child work and taking time to heal your inner child is essential if you want to overcome anxiety, build successful relationships or achieve your dreams. A lot of people have a misconception of what inner child work is so first of all I would like to dispel some myths about inner child work.
Myth 1: Inner Child Work Is About Reliving The Past
Inner child work and inner child healing the way I do it is not about reliving the past, it’s not about having a victim mentality and it’s not about blaming parents or family. The first thing I do with one to one clients and on the inner child program is to set goals. Goals are important with any kind of therapy or change of work because if you don’t know where you’re going you’re never going to get there. I don’t encourage clients to live in the past, constantly talking about and reliving the past only reinforces traumatic memories and keeps a person stuck in a negative mental state.
I ask clients what they want their life to look like, what they want to get from our work together and how they will know when it has been successful. The way I do inner child work is about externalising toxic shame, making the inner child feel safe, loved and accepted.
Myth 2: Inner Child Work and Hypnosis Is Triggering
I hear this myth a lot, variations of this myth are will I get stuck in a traumatic event that I can’t escape, will I spontaneously regress to traumatic events that I don’t remember consciously. The answer is no, I have been a hypnotherapist for 6 years and doing inner child work for three. I have never had anyone spontaneously regress to a bad memory and I have never had anyone stuck in a memory. I have definitely never had or heard of anyone being stuck in hypnosis.
I believe this is a story perpetrated by people who don’t understand hypnosis, there used to be a belief that the unconscious mind remembers everything and by using hypnosis we can uncover repressed memories but it is not one I subscribe to, there are therapist who regress people back to memories they don’t consciously have but I am not one of them. As I say on my workshops, your mind can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined event and this is why hypnosis is so effective at helping people make rapid change.
As I said above when I work with people it is on a solution focused basis, if someone is extremely traumatised the first few sessions would be solely based around relaxation and making the client feel safe. When I do group sessions I use extreme levels of relaxation and I take people through a safe space before I do any regression. It is very hard to remember bad memories when you are relaxed but your emotional state actually influences how you perceive memories which means even if someone did spontaneously regress they would not relive the traumatic emotions.
Myth 3: You Have To Close Your Eyes To Go Into Hypnosis
You don’t need your eyes closed to go into hypnosis and you certainly don’t need your eyes closed to make positive changes. Some clients prefer to talk than close their eyes and listen to me telling them to relax, drift deeper and deeper and that’s fine. I can still use hypnotherapy with clients that may be too nervous to close their eyes. Again, as I explain in my workshops hypnosis is a natural state that we all experience several times during the course of a day. If you have ever been watching T.V and zoned out, that’s hypnosis. Hypnosis is a focused state of attention, you don’t need to close your eyes to experience a hypnotic state in which positive change can occur.
So What Is Inner Child Work? Why Is Inner Child Healing So Important?
Now we have covered what inner child work is not let’s talk about what inner child work actually is. Inner child work is about releasing toxic shame, making the inner child feel safe, loved and accepted. It’s about learning how to properly treat ourselves and others.
Why Is Inner Child Work So Important To Overcome Anxiety?
As I say on my hypnotherapy to reduce anxiety page, “Anxiety is a natural response to danger and it can serve us in some circumstance, anxiety is part of our natural fight, flight, freeze or fawn response; it’s our sympathetic nervous system working to keep us safe and out of harm’s way by releasing hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. It’s not possible to completely eliminate anxiety from your life.”
If we want to get technical anxiety is not actually part of the fight or flight response, fear is part of the fight or flight response and anxiety is a conditioned response from regularly experiencing fear.
Until about 10 years ago I suffered from chronic anxiety and I didn’t know where it had come from. Rather than deal with it I avoided people and developed many toxic coping strategies that I’d use when I couldn’t avoid people. I had several toxic relationships and no real friends by the time I decided things really had to change. I was working online from home and pretty much isolating myself, I talk more about my own story and why I had to heal my inner child in this post. The point I am trying to make is that I, like most people, had grown up around dysfunctional people who projected their toxic shame onto an easy target, me.
A child is dependent on the adults around them to protect, feed and clothe them. They need good enough parents, when we are small helpless children and we don’t have good enough parents it’s life threatening so we internalise the dysfunction and it creates toxic shame and a constant feeling of unease.
Breathing exercises and visualisation are both effective ways to reduce anxiety but if we want lasting change they are not enough, we need to release the toxic shame, make our inner child feel safe and loved to reach our full potential and live anxiety free.