The inner-child is not a literal child, it is a metaphorical “little you”. The part of your psyche that is still childlike, innocent, and full of wonder.
The inner child is a part of our inner world of experiences and it symbolizes emotions, memories and experiences from childhood that are saved in our subconscious.
The inner child is the most important being in your life. When it’s happy you feel secure, full of strength, deep inner peace and you have a life-affirming attitude. When it’s lonely, sad, hurt or frightened you will always be confronted with the same themes again, will never get what you need, feel unimportant, rejected, not recognized, be without success, feel that you do not get enough money, love and attention. You feel as a victim of society and are lived by the actual values and norms of the general public instead of living your own life according to your wishes and beliefs.
If the development of a child is repressed or not nurtured, then their feelings, attitudes and actions may be repressed, discouraged and/or ignored. This can result in the individual growing with an angry, or hurt, or scared little child inside (a wounded inner child). The world view of the inner child is time-frozen and has all kinds of emotional states attached to it, it is usually outside the conscious awareness of the present adult. In effect the present adult is ‘hypnotised’ by the traumatised or wounded inner child’s beliefs, behaving and reacting to life automatically. Life is not experienced as it is in the present, but as it was in the past. The feelings experienced in the present will be similar to those experienced in the past by the child.
As the child’s role is to fulfil that which is lacking in the family, their own personal development is inhibited. This means that the family ‘system’ is held whilst individuals within do not grow according to their own potentials. They grow up suppressing emotions and behaviours. Desires and wants turn into subconscious and suppressed ‘needs’. Emotions need to be expressed and validated. Emotions get frozen if not validated and every muscle and cell in the person gets conditioned (stuck) with this make up.
The energy that is stuck is always striving and moving towards resolution and wholeness, however, if it cannot it will then respond – suppressed emotions and needs do not go away. These repressed ‘energies’ express themselves in inappropriate ways, referred to in inner child theory as ‘acting out’ or ‘acting in’, which are ways that the repressed energy gets released.
The emotional ‘energy’ that has been frozen in time expresses itself through unconscious action or through conscious avoidance of upsetting emotions. Since the emotional energy is not expressed in a healthy way it gets expressed in dysfunctional or unhealthy behaviour. For example:
- re–enactment of violence, or violence towards others (kicking the dog), anger.
- violence against one’s own children and child abuse. • temper tantrums or sulking, spontaneous age regression.
- inappropriate rebellion.
- pleasure-less promiscuity.
- impulsive gratification, which if inhibited will cause anxiety and tension.
- abused children often assume the parent is right and the child is wrong (survival response).
- assume and carry the roles of idealised parents.
Acting in equates to negative emotional ‘energy’ being released by turning it in onto one’s self resulting in ill health. For example, acting in can correlate to psychosomatic symptoms such as:
- gastrointestinal disorders.
- skin disorders.
- aches/pains, bad back, stiff neck, etc.
- eating disorders.
- repressed anger leading to apathy, depression, ineptness, feeling powerless.
- self punishment, self harm, self criticism, accident proneness.
- emotional connections to other illnesses.
Some authorities also believe that acting in can result in the development of conditions such as:
- autoimmune disease.