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How Can Healing Your Inner Child Reduce Stress & Increase Joy?

Written by: Karen Gibson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I had a moment of enlightenment when I spoke to one of my student’s moms when she shared that since she suffered as a child in school, she was determined to do everything in her power to make sure her sons, ages 5 and 8, never suffer academically. Checking their homework, hovering over them as they studied, editing their sentences, and preparing them for tests became an obsession. Another dad shared that his dad put too much pressure on him which led to multiple mental breakdowns. But, he knew that it built resilience and as an adult, he believed he learned how to manage stress because his dad prepared him. Personally, my dad emphasized the importance of putting academics as a top priority so I made it my mission to educate my daughters so they knew achieving high grades had to be a vital goal throughout their school years. What about building emotional strength and self-love?

Now that my daughters are adults, and I’m witnessing my own fears along with the fears of my students’ parents, I’m realizing the importance of discovering our inner child along with making it a priority to heal our past emotional wounds. Each of us carries emotional baggage which can involve worrying about being late, insecurity that your relationship may end, you may lose your job, or fear that you may fail as a parent/daughter/business owner/employee. As an educator for 28 years, I’ve observed hundreds of children worried that they may fail an exam causing their parents to either express major disappointment or dish out a harsh consequence. Many parents don’t realize the emotional scars their children suffer resulting in future family generations passing on unrealistic high standards that damage self-esteem. What is your inner child? It’s the younger part of ourselves that lacked feeling loved the way we needed. We hang onto the criticism which may have been given with the best intentions. “Try harder next time so you can earn a better grade” sounds motivational, but my students have shared that they perceive these comments to mean, “that grade is unacceptable which means you’re not acceptable.” How can we heal our inner child? Write your inner child a letter expressing what you missed as a child, why you felt hurt, and what you wish you could re-do. Visit your childhood memories. What brought you the most joy? Engage in what you consider your favorite activities. Have a conversation with your 5-year–old self saying “I love you. I’m sorry you were hurt. Thank you for being you.” Working with a therapist or someone who practices inner child healing can help you navigate your healing journey. As a parent mentor, it’s been helpful to help parents revisit their childhood, and share what they learned about themselves, the memories they have of whether they were judged, the values they learned, and process the mistakes they made. I worked with a mom who shared that the abuse she experienced with her first husband caused her to mistrust her current husband and worry that her daughter might experience abusive relationships. Journaling and sharing her fears, observing her behaviors, and recognizing unhealthy patterns helped her heal. Another mom shared that she feared her son would not learn to be independent. She visited her childhood and realized that when she was growing up, she was taught that she wasn’t competent which made her mistrust herself and feel co-dependent.

Once our inner child experiences unconditional love and healing, we heal from past trauma, our heart feels lighter and open to living life with genuine joy. We release toxic shame, no longer hold onto anger which magically turns into patience. “When you learn how to re-parent yourself, you will stop attempting to complete the past by setting up others to be your parents.” (Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child” by John Bradshaw)

Inner child healing may sound unconventional, weird, or something that you may not want to consider. But, inner child work can help wake up the right brain, known for creativity, emotions, imagination, and support the left brain, responsible for logic, reason, language, and analytic thinking. I strongly suggest that if you’ve been suffering from resentment, depression, anger, or have difficulty experiencing joy, be open-minded to visiting your childhood memories.

Discovering your triggers, trauma responses, and the reason why you engage in unhealthy behavior patterns may be the key to finding true happiness and fulfillment. Life is too short not to at least try to heal your inner child.

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Karen Gibson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Karen is the founder of "Letting Go with Aloha," offering coaching for overwhelmed parents and those in parenting roles who want to parent with peace instead of pain. As a former special education teacher, she also founded Brain Builders, a private tutoring business whose mission is to enhance students' mental and emotional potential. She is the author of "Mama's Gotta Let Go: How to Let Go Without Losing Your Sanity,” available on Amazon, as well as “100 Parenting Tips Inspired by the Pandemic,” published in March 2021 by Balboa Press.



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