The Wounded Inner Child | CPTSDfoundation.org (2022)

Inner children are parts of all our psyche that remains full of innocence, awe, and wonder. When our inner child is healthy, and we are connected with them, we tend to be invigorated, inspired, and excited.

However, what happens when our inner child is wounded from past trauma, and we are disconnected from them? When we ignore the inner child in our psyche, as adults, we feel disconnected from life, tired, empty, and unhappy.

This article will further explore the topic of the wounded inner child, how these little ones can affect their adult selves.

A Brief Recap What is an Inner Child?

The Wounded Inner Child | CPTSDfoundation.org (1)The concept of the inner child was first proposed by psychologist Carl Jung after he examined his own childlike inner-feelings and emotions. Jung postulated that it was this inside part of all of us that influenced all we do and the decisions that we make.

Inner children were us when we were kids that never grew up. They are who holds all the memories and emotions, good or bad, that we experienced. These learned messages are incurred when we were helpless and dependent on our caregivers.

Unfortunately, it is also these inner children who absorb all the negative and harmful words and actions of those who were supposed to keep us safe. Once wounded, these inner kids negatively influence who we are as adults holding enormous power over our relationships and decisions.

The Unsafe Messages Children Receive

All children deserve to feel safe—safe from harm, fear, and lack. Safety does not mean only physical security but also emotional and spiritual well-being as well. When children feel safe within the families they were born into, their boundaries are respected, and that their needs are met so they feel secure.

Childhood trauma, where the child’s needs are not met, destroys a child’s sense of safety, causing them to become hypervigilant and scared. In adulthood, these inner children never go away, and neither does their feelings of being unsafe and that the world is a horrible and dangerous place. When a child feels continually endangered, a massive gaping wound opens in their psyche that is so painful that many adults unknowingly repress it. (Kneisl 1991)

(Video) Healing the Inner Child: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Strategies to Address Trauma and Abandonment

Words can hurt as severely as actions with some of the signals given to children leaving deep scars that can last a lifetime. Some of these statements and actions made by parents that leave open wounds are as follows.

  • Not allowing a child to have their own opinions
  • Discouragement from playing or having fun
  • Not allowed to display strong emotions
  • Punishing for speaking up
  • Continuously shaming by caregivers
  • Not allowing spontaneity
  • Was not given appropriate hugs, kisses, or cuddles

Children who do not receive emotional and physical support grow up to be hurting adults.

The Three Common Ways Children are Made to Feel Unsafe

The Wounded Inner Child | CPTSDfoundation.org (2)Children crave and deserve to have their needs met and to feel safe and loved. However, even in today’s advanced society, many kids are neglected and wounded. There are three types of trauma children endure at the hands of their caregivers that cause later adult inner children injury. These include physical, emotional, and psychological neglect.

Physical Neglect. Physical safety and nourishment are basic human needs that are to be given freely from caregivers to children. However, in physical neglect, these rights are violated and are lacking. Unfortunately, physical neglect does not mean only that the child was kept from food and shelter. It also means several forms of abuse are taking place, such as sexual abuse.

The results of this type of neglect are devastating. Below are only a few of the negative impacts physical neglect has on children and the adults they become.

  • Low self-esteem
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Addictions
  • Violent behavior
  • Sexual dysfunction

Emotional Neglect. In this type of neglect, a child’s caregiver did not show enough interest in the child’s emotional needs for support, respect, and love. In these cases, either the caregiver does not pay attention to or condemns any emotional expressions that the child might need.

Like with physical abuse, the symptoms, and outcomes of this type of neglect are dire in adulthood.

  • Low self-worth
  • Repressing emotions
  • Ignoring one’s own emotional needs
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Shunning Emotional closeness or intimacy

Psychological Neglect. This kind of neglect occurred when the child’s caregivers failed to listen, nurture, and embrace the beautiful human beings that they are. This form of neglect includes any or all the following:

(Video) Core Beliefs: Understanding and Healing Your Wounded Inner Child

  • Name-calling
  • Insults
  • Ridicule
  • Yelling
  • Gaslighting
  • Lack of privacy
  • Making overt threats

The symptoms that occur when the inner child endures this type of neglect and inhabit adults can be:

  • Deep-seated feelings of anger
  • Inability to love themselves
  • The development of low self-esteem
  • Addictions
  • Neuroses
  • Psychological illnesses
  • Physical illnesses
  • Showing a lack of respect for others
  • Problems with sustaining a healthy relationship

As can be seen, the wounds children incur become the wounded inner children adults who have grown up and later have left that home.

Some Signs You Have a Wounded Inner Child

The first step in healing your inner child is to acknowledge it is there and that he or she is wounded. The harm done to your inner child is directly correlated with the ways you feel unsafe in the world. Below are some signals that you have a wounded inner child.

  • A deep feeling that there is something wrong with you
  • Being a people-pleaser
  • Being a rebel and feel alive when in conflict with someone else
  • Being a hoarder
  • Not being able to let go of possessions and people
  • Experience anxiety with something new
  • Feeling guilty for setting boundaries
  • Driven to be a super-achiever
  • Being ridged and a perfectionist
  • Having problems starting and finishing tasks
  • Exhibit constant self-criticism
  • Feel ashamed at expressing emotions
  • Ashamed of your body
  • Having a deep distrust of anyone else
  • Avoiding conflict, no matter what the cost
  • A fear of abandonment

If you recognize yourself in many (not necessarily all) of the above-listed items, then there is a high chance that you have a wounded inner child.

The Influence of the Inner Child in All of Us

The Wounded Inner Child | CPTSDfoundation.org (3)The inner children that live in the human psyche directly influence all that we do. Adults are covertly controlled by their unconscious inner child, and this leaves a child in charge of their lives. When wounded, these little ones are full of anger, shame, and sometimes rage because of the maltreatment they endured. Inner children are the lens through which injured adults make their decisions.

Can you imagine your children or a child you see on the street trying to make sense of adult relationships? Or make career decisions? Predictably, such attempts could only end in disaster. However, this is what happens every day in the lives of people who have a wounded inner child.

These small, lost, and lonely parts of ourselves are afraid, anxious, and insecure, and that can make our lives miserable. However, there is hope. Inner child work, including self-parenting, can ease the pain and heal the wounds left behind by caregivers who were abusive and toxic.

“She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.” ~ H. Raven Rose

(Video) Healing the Inner Child by Thich Nhat Hanh

“Your pain needs to be recognized and acknowledged. It needs to be acknowledged and then released. Avoiding pain is the same as denying it.”
~Yong Kang Chan

References

Dean, M. (2020). Inner child: What is it, what happened to it, And how can I fix it?. Retrieved from: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/inner-child-what-is-it-what-happened-to-it-and-how-can-i-fix-it/

Kneisl, C. R. (1991). Healing the wounded, neglected inner child of the past.The Nursing Clinics of North America,26(3), 745-755.

Luna, A. 25 Signs you have a wounded inner child (and how to heal). Retrieved from: https://lonerwolf.com/feeling-safe-inner-child/

The Healing Book Club

The CPTSD Foundation would like to invite you to their healing book club, where they are beginning to read a new book on July 4, 2020. The title of the latest featured book is “The Drama of the Gifted Child, The Search for the True Self” by Alice Miller.

The book examines childhood trauma and the lifelong effects it has on a person’s management of repressed anger and pain.

Led by Sabra Cain, the healing book club is only $7 per month, the fee going towards scholarships for those who cannot afford access to materials offered by the CPTSD Foundation.

Should you decide to join the Healing Book Club, please purchase your books through our Amazon link to help us help you.

(Video) GUIDED MEDITATION: Heal Your Inner Child - Healing Love

If you or a loved one are living in the despair and isolation that comes with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please, come to us for help. The CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services including:

  • Daily Calls
  • The Healing Book Club
  • Mindfulness, Prayer, and Meditation Circle
  • Support Groups
  • Our Blog
  • The Trauma-Informed Newsletter
  • Daily Encouragement Texts

All our services are reasonably priced, and some are even free. So, to gain more insight into how complex post-traumatic stress disorder is altering your life and how you can overcome it, sign-up, we will be glad to help you.

The Wounded Inner Child | CPTSDfoundation.org (4)

Shirley Davis

My name is Shirley Davis and I am a freelance writer with over 40-years- experience writing short stories and poetry. Living as I do among the corn and bean fields of Illinois (USA), working from home using the Internet has become the best way to communicate with the world. My interests are wide and varied. I love any kind of science and read several research papers per week to satisfy my curiosity. I have earned an Associate Degree in Psychology and enjoy writing books on the subjects that most interest me.

(Video) Inner Child Meditation for Codependency, Lack of Self Love and Negative Programming

FAQs

What are the signs of a wounded inner child? ›

Signs You Have a Wounded Inner Child
  • People-pleasing behavior, such as trouble saying no.
  • Difficulty setting and enforcing boundaries.
  • Feeling guilty for standing up for yourself.
  • Avoiding conflict at every chance possible.
  • Fear of abandonment or letting go.
  • Feeling inadequate or unworthy.
15 Jul 2022

What is the best way to heal your inner child? ›

Try these six strategies.
  1. Keep an open mind. It's OK to feel a little uncertain about the idea of an inner child. ...
  2. Look to children for guidance. ...
  3. Revisit childhood memories. ...
  4. Spend time doing things you used to enjoy. ...
  5. Talk to your inner child. ...
  6. Talk to a therapist.
8 Jul 2020

What Does wounded inner child mean? ›

Inner child wounds, or attachment wounds, can occur when there is either a traumatic event or chronic rupture without repair. For children, a rupture without repair can look like crying out for help but being unheard by an emotionally unavailable caretaker.

What triggers inner child? ›

In some cases, that wound to our inner child could be the result of trauma, abuse, or abandonment. In other cases, the source of the pain may be more subtle – experiencing unmet emotional needs, the illness of a parent or sibling, growing up in a broken family, or even a childhood friend moving away.

What is unloved daughter syndrome? ›

Lack of trust

With an emotionally unreliable mother or one who is combative or hypercritical, the daughter learns that relationships are unstable and dangerous, and that trust is ephemeral and can't be relied on. Unloved daughters have trouble trusting in all relationships but especially friendship.

What happens when you heal your inner child? ›

The goal of inner child healing is to eventually reach a point at which you can better identify your own needs, behaviors, and triggers. Healing your inner child fosters a deeper sense of self-compassion and supports your mental health.

How do you recover from childhood trauma without therapy? ›

Here are seven ways to heal your childhood trauma and reclaim your life.
  1. Acknowledge and recognize the trauma for what it is. ...
  2. Reclaim control. ...
  3. Seek support and don't isolate yourself. ...
  4. Take care of your health. ...
  5. Learn the true meaning of acceptance and letting go. ...
  6. Replace bad habits with good ones.
17 Jul 2009

How do I know if my inner child needs healing? ›

7 signs that your inner child needs healing
  1. Having big feelings about small things. ...
  2. Self-sabotaging behaviours. ...
  3. Unhealthy coping mechanisms. ...
  4. A difficult relationship with your family. ...
  5. Self-criticism and low self-esteem. ...
  6. Relationship issues. ...
  7. Mental, physical and emotional issues.

How do you treat an abandoned inner child? ›

Focus on self-care

This means making sure you're eating regularly, getting a little exercise—like a walk through the park—and taking care of your basic needs. But it also means taking the time to do things that bring you joy, such as making time for a hobby you love or making plans to do something fun.

What are the 5 core wounds? ›

So Lise Bourbeau explains that we can classify the wounds made to the emotional body into five large categories of negative emotions. Later on, I'll present them in detail but just to list them, these are betrayal, abandonment, rejection, humiliation, and injustice.

Does everyone have inner child wounds? ›

We all do. Your “inner child” is a part of your subconscious that has been picking up messages way before it was able to fully process what was going on (mentally and emotionally). It holds emotions, memories and beliefs from the past as well as hopes and dreams for the future.

How do you heal emotionally? ›

Tips for You As You Heal
  1. Practice self-compassion—you're not broken. ...
  2. Don't go it alone. ...
  3. You may not like the pain that you're in, but maybe you're afraid to work on emotional healing because you're afraid of what you might find in the process. ...
  4. Journaling is often suggested—and for good reason.
31 Jan 2022

Is the inner child the ego? ›

Ego VS. The Inner Child - YouTube

How do you heal from being unloved as a child? ›

Some ways you can heal from feeling unloved as a child include but are not limited to:
  1. learning your triggers.
  2. engaging in inner child work.
  3. practicing self-care and self-love.
  4. practicing setting boundaries.
  5. using your past to learn what you do and don't want in life.
  6. journaling or reading interactive self-help books.

What is cold mother syndrome? ›

Emotionally absent or cold mothers can be unresponsive to their children's needs. They may act distracted and uninterested during interactions, or they could actively reject any attempts of the child to get close. They may continue acting this way with adult children.

What happens when a child grows up without love? ›

They will be unable to comfort themselves, trust others, love themselves, and will face many difficulties finding fulfillment, meaning, and contentment in their adult relationships. They will not know what healthy love looks and feels like.

What happens if a child doesn't feel loved? ›

Normally babies develop a close attachment bond with their main caregiver (usually their parents) within the first months of life. If they are in a situation where they do not receive normal love and care, they cannot develop this close bond. This may result in a condition called attachment disorder.

How do adults deal with childhood trauma? ›

3 steps to help overcome childhood trauma
  1. Recognize the trauma. The adult must acknowledge this certain childhood experience as trauma. ...
  2. Be patient with yourself. Self-criticism and guilt can be very common when it comes to adults who have lived through a traumatic childhood. ...
  3. Reach out for help.
29 Dec 2021

What mental disorders are caused by childhood trauma? ›

Trauma and Stressor-related Disorders in Children
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). ...
  • Acute stress disorder (ASD). ...
  • Adjustment disorders. ...
  • Reactive attachment disorder (RAD). ...
  • Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED). ...
  • Unclassified and unspecified trauma disorders.

What does PTSD from childhood trauma look like? ›

Re-experiencing or re-living unwanted memories as flashbacks or nightmares. Hyper-arousal: problems with sleep, irritability, anger, anxiety, hyper-alertness, exaggerated startle response. Hypo-arousal: feeling numb or cut off, feeling detached from others, dissociating, feeling flat or empty.

How do you release past trauma? ›

The following steps may help people begin to move on from troubling memories, such as past mistakes or regrets.
  1. Make a commitment to let go. The first step toward letting go is realizing that it is necessary and feeling ready to do so. ...
  2. Feel the feelings. ...
  3. Take responsibility. ...
  4. Practice mindfulness. ...
  5. Practice self-compassion.
4 Mar 2021

What is an abandonment wound? ›

Abandonment is an invisible wound that implants a deep emotional drain when not tended to properly.

What questions should I ask my inner child? ›

Questions to ask your inner child
  • How old was I when this happened? ...
  • Do I remember how comfortable or uncomfortable certain sensations felt back then, such as clothing touching my skin or what physical pain felt like?
  • Were there any specific events that made me feel this way?
  • What emotions I stirred up when I was a kid?
20 Oct 2021

What does emotional abandonment look like? ›

Emotional abandonment is, “other people not meeting your emotional needs, leaving you feeling rejected, unloved, or painfully lonely,” explains Kibby McMahon, PhD, a clinical psychologist and co-host of the podcast “A Little Help for Our Friends.”

What causes abandonment trauma? ›

Abandonment issues stem from a fear of loneliness, which can be a phobia or a form of anxiety. These issues can affect your relationships and often stem from a childhood loss. Other factors that turn loss into abandonment issues include environmental and medical factors, genetics, and brain chemistry.

Why does abandonment hurt so much? ›

Abandonment fears can impair a person's ability to trust others. They may make it harder for a person to feel worthy or be intimate. These fears could make a person prone to anxiety, depression, codependence, or other issues. Abandonment issues are also linked to borderline personality (BPD) and attachment anxiety.

Does my inner child need healing? ›

Your inner child is You but it's not a childlike personality you have held onto all these years. It's your unconscious mind. It's the You that has all those repressed memories and feelings from your childhood that resurface from time to time. Healing your inner child is essential to wellbeing and growth.

How do you heal from being unloved as a child? ›

Some ways you can heal from feeling unloved as a child include but are not limited to:
  1. learning your triggers.
  2. engaging in inner child work.
  3. practicing self-care and self-love.
  4. practicing setting boundaries.
  5. using your past to learn what you do and don't want in life.
  6. journaling or reading interactive self-help books.

What is an abandonment wound? ›

Abandonment is an invisible wound that implants a deep emotional drain when not tended to properly.

What are the 5 core wounds? ›

So Lise Bourbeau explains that we can classify the wounds made to the emotional body into five large categories of negative emotions. Later on, I'll present them in detail but just to list them, these are betrayal, abandonment, rejection, humiliation, and injustice.

How do you heal subconscious trauma from childhood? ›

7 Ways to Heal Your Childhood Trauma
  1. Acknowledge and recognize the trauma for what it is. ...
  2. Reclaim control. ...
  3. Seek support and don't isolate yourself. ...
  4. Take care of your health. ...
  5. Learn the true meaning of acceptance and letting go. ...
  6. Replace bad habits with good ones. ...
  7. Be patient with yourself.
17 Jul 2009

Does everyone have inner child wounds? ›

We all do. Your “inner child” is a part of your subconscious that has been picking up messages way before it was able to fully process what was going on (mentally and emotionally). It holds emotions, memories and beliefs from the past as well as hopes and dreams for the future.

How do I heal myself mentally? ›

  1. Value yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. ...
  2. Take care of your body: Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. ...
  3. Surround yourself with good people: ...
  4. Give yourself: ...
  5. Learn how to deal with stress: ...
  6. Quiet your mind: ...
  7. Set realistic goals: ...
  8. Break up the monotony:

What happens when a child doesn't feel loved? ›

If they are in a situation where they do not receive normal love and care, they cannot develop this close bond. This may result in a condition called attachment disorder. It usually happens to babies and children who have been neglected or abused, or who are in care or separated from their parents for some reason.

What does no love do to a person? ›

They will be unable to comfort themselves, trust others, love themselves, and will face many difficulties finding fulfillment, meaning, and contentment in their adult relationships. They will not know what healthy love looks and feels like.

What happens to a child who is emotionally neglected? ›

For children, affectional neglect may have devastating consequences, including failure to thrive, developmental delay, hyperactivity, aggression, depression, low self-esteem, running away from home, substance abuse, and a host of other emotional disorders. These children feel unloved and unwanted.

What does emotional abandonment look like? ›

Emotional abandonment is, “other people not meeting your emotional needs, leaving you feeling rejected, unloved, or painfully lonely,” explains Kibby McMahon, PhD, a clinical psychologist and co-host of the podcast “A Little Help for Our Friends.”

What are the signs of abandonment issues? ›

Common signs of abandonment issues include:
  • Giving too much or being overly eager to please.
  • Jealousy in your relationship or of others.
  • Trouble trusting your partner's intentions.
  • Feeling insecure about your relationship.
  • Having difficulty in feeling intimate emotionally.
  • Needing to control or be controlled by your partner.
20 Nov 2020

Can you get PTSD from abandonment? ›

While there are many effects of child abandonment, the hidden danger is that the person may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of long-term attachment issues, ongoing fear of abandonment, and lack of a supportive social network.

Videos

1. Inner Child Healing Sleep Meditation / Codependency Healing / Releasing Negative Self Talk ❤️
(relax for a while)
2. 6 Signs You Have a Wounded Inner Child
(Psych2Go)
3. 5 Things Your Wounded Inner Child NEEDS To Hear RIGHT NOW
(Psych2Go)
4. Give Your Inner Child Permission to Heal | Kristin Folts | TEDxOcala
(TEDx Talks)
5. The Wounded Inner Child
(Kenny Weiss)
6. The Wounded Inner-Child in Adults on the Autism Spectrum
(Mark Hutten, M.A.)

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