Not everyone has an ideal childhood, but it is perhaps even more true that nobody has a perfect one. No matter how strong your upbringing or how good of parents your parents were, there still might have been some experiences from your past that disturbed you in some way. Perhaps, you are still continuing to be affected by these events today, whether consciously or subconsciously.
Even as you grow, you don’t ever lose your inner child, even though it is affected by different stages of development and layers of maturity. Healing your inner child is a process of taking a look back at the earlier years of life, considering what events may have had a lasting effect upon you, and learning how to grow from them.
Taking a Look Back at Your Childhood Years
Hopefully, everyone can remember times from their childhood that they associate with joy, peace, love, and fulfillment. These might just be small things or moments that continue to bring them a sense of joy today, even many years later. It could be something as simple as a song their mother used to sing to them or a favorite meal they often shared together as a family. When they are exposed to these things as adults, they may experience the same sort of peace and fond feelings.
Unfortunately, it can also go the opposite way. Some people may associate their childhood with the loss of a loved one or a parent struggling with addiction, pain, mistreatment, sickness, and even abuse. Now, when they are exposed to similar things as an adult, they feel that same fear that they did all those years ago. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed or that they are now an adult, capable of protecting themselves.
Understanding the Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Substance Use
Young children don’t have the same coping mechanisms that adults do. They do not know how to process or work through their emotions. When they experience pain, trauma, severe neglect, or abuse, often the only thing they know to do is suppress what they experienced and bury it deep inside of themselves. They may pretend that nothing ever happened and continue to live with it for years or even decades. But no matter what lengths they go to ignore it, the pain is still there because they have not yet healed from it. They may still experience triggers related to it, even when they least expect it.
So, how does one go about dealing with this sort of pain that they have suppressed for so long? In many cases, people that go through this turn to substance misuse in adulthood. This is because they look at drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. In reality, however, the only real way to deal with the problem is to confront it head-on.
Acknowledging Your Inner Child
The first step to healing your inner child is acknowledging it. When you look back at feelings you may have experienced as a result of childhood trauma, some of the following emotions may come up:
- A sense of abandonment
- Feelings of betrayal
Once you have pinpointed these emotions, you can then take a step back and consider how these emotions might still be affecting you today.
For example, maybe as a child, you recall one or both of your parents abandoning you at home while they go out for a night of partying. You’re left wondering when they will be back and why they chose to leave you alone. Some of the emotions tied to this experience could be anger, abandonment, fear, and even a sense of not feeling good enough.
Now, imagine that years later, it’s a Friday night, and your significant other lets you know that he is going to go out with friends instead of spending time with you. Is it the same thing as what your parents did all those years ago? No, but it might still carry with it the same emotions and bring forth the same reaction from you as it did back then.
Working With a Therapist to Heal Your Inner Child
The details of childhood trauma and the related effects that can last through adulthood can be very confusing and complex. This is why working with a therapist to help get to the bottom of these emotions can help you begin the healing process. They can ask you questions about how you felt about past experiences that you may have never even thought to consider before. The more you learn about the effects that these past experiences had on you, the better equipped you will be to heal from them.
Experiences from childhood can have a dramatic effect on the person that we grow up to be. Unfortunately, for many people, these experiences may be less than positive. Some children experience things like abuse, neglect, abandonment, pain, and other sorts of trauma. Unable to cope with the pain of these things, they will often suppress them for many years. This can, in turn, cause them to turn to substance misuse as an adult. To avoid this, it is important to work on healing your inner child by learning more about how the emotions of past trauma could be affecting you today. If you’re struggling with substance misuse, call The Ho Tai Way at (714) 581-3974 today. We want to help.