One festival that was widely celebrated recently in the Philippines, and by many Filipinos worldwide, is the Festival of the Santo Nino (Holy Child).
I no longer take part in the traditional practices of the Church. While the rest of the Santo Nino devotees paid homage to the Holy Child Jesus as is customary, I celebrated the Feast of the Santo Nino by honoring my inner child. I reflected on the inner child work that I’ve done through the years — how I’ve been nurturing her and giving her the love she rightfully deserves.
I’ve heard some people consider the concept of the “inner child” passé. Yes, the idea may have been first introduced more than two decades ago. The classic book written by Charlie Whitfield, Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families, started the inner child movement in the late 80’s. But that doesn’t make it outdated or irrelevant, in my opinion.
In fact, based on my personal experiences and from observing others, healing our wounded inner child is an essential process in our path towards wholeness and balance. It is crucial and fundamental to our growth and transformation.
I’ve learned that when I neglect the needs of my inner child, I end up going through “spiritual bypassing”. (See related post, I am annoyed, I am angry, I am upset.…How unspiritual can that be? — The trap of spiritual bypassing). I cut-short the process. Instead of addressing my deep wounding and core issues, my wounds grow even deeper. I not only continue to hurt myself unconsciously, I cause harm and inflict pain on others, albeit unknowingly and unintentionally. My wounded inner child acts out. I project my issues and pass on my toxicity to other people. I’m caught in a cycle, a destructive behavioral pattern that needs to be broken.
What is the inner child?
Charlie Whitfield defines the child within as “the part of us that is ultimately alive, energetic, creative and fulfilled. This is our Real Self — who we truly are, who we are when we feel most authentic, genuine, or spirited.” (p. 9). He explains that “the inner child is lost to trauma and loss, and how by recovering it, we can heal the fear, confusion and unhappiness of adult life.”
Inappropriate behavior. Words that are out of line. An impure thought. An act of retaliation. A put-down statement. Bullying (and there’s a lot of it that’s been going around). A sudden outburst of anger. Inexplicable rage (such as road rage). Displaced humor. Unreasonable demand for attention, approval or appreciation. A sudden and untimely trigger of irritation. The desire to get even or to one up the other. The need to withhold love and forgiveness. The inability to give or receive love. Refusal to celebrate someone else’s success. Finding joy in seeing others fail. Dimming someone else’s light. Co-dependency. Addiction. Fear of intimacy (physical and emotional). Mistrust (over anything and everything, anyone and everyone) or overtly trusting. Lack of boundaries. Problems with authority figures or hierarchies. Compulsive behavior. People-pleasing. Feeling unworthy. Constant feelings of doubt, shame and guilt. Feeling responsible for parents’ and siblings’ well-being, and anyone else’s for that matter (aka, feeling like everyone’s caretaker).
Does any sound familiar? The list isn’t exhaustive but behind all of these is a hurting inner child, a wounded inner child, merely crying out for love, yet simply doesn’t know how, or may have forgotten how, or just doesn’t know any better.
One will probably note that a wounded inner child seems to be behind practically every dysfunctional, destructive, irrational and unhealthy behavior.
It can’t be farther from the truth. After all, our development as a child is fundamental to a healthy development and functioning in our adult lives. Our childhood experiences shape the foundation upon which we base our values and beliefs that guide us as adults.
We all have a child within that is in need of nurturing. The harm that was inflicted upon us may have been unintentional. Nevertheless, our wounding needs to be addressed. Our wounds need to be healed. And the severity of the wounds is immaterial. A wound is a wound, period. And it is a wound that needs healing. And when left unattended, like with anything that requires remedy, it can only get worse.
No one is spared
It’s never too late to start healing our wounded inner child and transforming her or him into a wonder child. And no one can be exempted from doing inner child therapy.
Not even healers, spiritual teachers, channellers, lightworkers, therapists, and other practitioners of similar professions. They cannot be spared from doing inner child work. In fact, I strongly believe that, more than anyone else, they’re the ones who need to be vigilant about nurturing their inner child.
There are those in the healing arts — and there are many — who have neglected the child within. They have not done sufficient inner work and I have found this quite alarming. These are the very people who are supposed to assist others in their healing, yet they have not done the work themselves. Their work is tainted. Their judgment is clouded. Their diagnosis and analysis become biased. Their messages are inconsistent. Where’s the integrity? The underlying message seems to be, “Do as I say but not as I do.” Hmmm…
I also believe that it isn’t only those in the healing profession who need to make inner child therapy a priority. Whether or not we are in the healing arts, we all need to bring our awareness to this aspect of ourselves. We all need to take steps towards integrating our various selves and many parts and aspects of our personality. It’ll help a great deal in contributing to the healing of humanity and our planet.
A lifelong process
Healing and nurturing the inner child is a lifelong process. And it takes honesty, humility and a lot of courage. Plus vigilance. (I will talk about in future posts what steps I took and the tools and resources that are helping me in my inner child work.)
We cannot function fully and maturely as adults unless and until we heal our inner children and inner adolescents. We become more respectful and truly loving partners to our spouses and life companions when we ensure that our inner child’s needs are met. We also become more effective and loving parents to our children when our inner children are being cared for. Our children then become more effective and loving parents to their children. And even if we do no have children of our own, biological or otherwise, we still become more loving and kind-hearted members of humanity.
And that’s how we can break the pattern of destructive and unhealthy behaviors in the family and in our society.
And that’s how we can begin a new cycle of loving and living harmoniously, peacefully and joyously.
And that’s how we can co-create a New Reality and a New Earth, based upon Peace, Joy, Love and Harmony.
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