No matter how independent, fearless, self-reliant or strong we are as women, there is still that inner child within us all, who seeks love and acceptance.
For most, we begin our adult lives with a content and happy inner child, a sign that you received that all important unconditional love, nourishment, nurturing and security from your parents as a child. But for some, (and if 'adulting' isn't already hard enough) we enter adulthood with a bruised, emotionally wounded and broken inner child.
Imagine your inner child as the foundations of a house or the roots of a tree, it's the stuff that prepares you for adulthood and everything it brings.
In the clinic, I listen to a lot of stories, and in my time, I've heard far too many really sad stories of childhoods that unfortunately didn't give them the sturdy roots or the strong foundations they needed. Love for them was always 'conditional'.
These little girls began to internalise this 'conditional' love from a very young age, believing (wrongly) they were to blame and that therefore, there must be something fundamentally wrong with them or something 'unloveable' about them. Children can't rationalise the hurt they feel as we adults would. They begin to believe that it's all their fault, that somehow they're just not enough, inherently horrible, that they deserve it, just because.
As we grow older, these false beliefs of who we are grow stronger. The roots and the foundations are laid and they become our 'norm'. As we enter adulthood, our bruised and broken inner child starts to become symptomatic - anxiety, depression, disordered eating, self medicating, self-sabotage, disastrous relationships, low self-esteem, lack of motivation - these are all 'symptoms' of a broken inner child.
It's at this point you'll most likely find yourself seeking help, to ease your symptoms. You might be feeling out of control with your emotions, unable to make decisions or making irrational behavioural choices - that'll be your hurt, angry, resentful inner child calling the shots.
The truth is, the only way to ease those symptoms is to tackle head on the cause. We have to go deep and dig up those faulty foundations and rotten roots and re-examine and re-process them through 'adult eyes'. Once we understand the false beliefs we've created and we've carried with us all this time, we can start to weed them out, one by one, and start to plant new, healthy fresh roots and lay strong and sturdy foundations.
No matter how painful your early childhood was, learning to love your inner child goes a long way in helping to heal it. YOU have the power to make new choices, new rules about who you are and think new thoughts about how you view the world. Forgiveness, refusing to let your past define your present and continue to cast a dark cloud on your future and acceptance for who you are (every single bit) goes a long way in making you feel 'whole' for the first time in your life.
Catherine Asta Labbett, is the founder and owner of Yorkshire based 'Bringing Sparkle Back' delivering Psychotherapy, Relationship and Life Coaching exclusively for women.