The reason why I am truly passionate about inner child work is because I used to be severely disconnected from my own little person and I know how much that impacts our lives. There were times where I would stay in bed all day, numb myself with Netflix or spend the entire time fantasizing. I had other strategies to escape and not feel anything as well but these were some of the main ones. Sometimes I wouldn’t even be able to make sure I have food in my stomach and had no appetite which then made me so weak that it was even harder to get out of bed not even speaking of doing something productive. These are just few examples of an inner child that feels neglected. The thing is that we are the only ones who are responsible for that little being, no one out there will come along and make the pain go away. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help or have to be alone and isolated during the process.
Guess what… the pain was never the problem but resisting it is. We do all kinds of things to run away from our pain but it’s really the avoiding of it that creates the suffering. You know, energy needs to flow. And so do your emotions because they are energy in motion as the literal meaning of the word says. When we suppress emotions we consider to be negative we are blocking our own flow of energy and if that energy gets stuck we create dis-ease. This can manifest in all kinds of ways such as physical illness but also mental struggles, feeling depleted and more. We need to bring that energy back into flow so that we can be healthy and live this life fully. And for that we have to be present with the moment and allow ourselves to feel it ALL. I am not saying this is easy, especially since most of us didn’t exactly learn how to do it. It’s a journey with all it’s ups and downs and that is totally ok.
The German psychologist and author Stefanie Stahl wrote a book called „Das Kind in dir muss Heimat finden“ which basically means your inner child needs to find a home within yourself. She distinguishes between two aspects of our inner child. She calls them the shadow child and the sun child. It’s pretty self explanatory but I will still share some more details. The shadow child within you is the part of your inner child that didn’t feel safe, seen or loved during certain experiences or times in your childhood. This is the part that acts out later in life. If we don’t address it it will constantly try to bring our awareness to it, so it makes sense to listen.
The sun child is the part of your inner child that felt loved, safe and seen during experiences or times in your childhood. This is the part of you that wants to play, connect with people with an open heart and spread joy. As adults we often bring out either one of these aspects which depends on how safe we feel within ourselves and in the environment. Many of us seek our inner sun child but it is so important to give them both love and attention if we want to be the ones running the show and not our inner child.
We were all taught to spend our entire life pretending that the shadow child is not a part of us and ignore it because it’s supposed to be bad. Such a bummer that we learn this crap! The more we ignore it the more likely it is that our entire life will be in the hands of this one and that can have a super problematic effect on our relationships, health and purpose. I am talking from experience here!
Everything that we suppress gets louder and bigger, same with our shadow. What applies for an inner child and an actual child is exactly the same but so many of us ignore the one within ourselves because we can’t see it with our eyes. We all know that when a child acts out it is trying to express a need and receive attention, that’s a smart strategy helping it to survive. It’s the exact same with the inner shadow child. The reason why it wants attention is because it has so much important information for you but not looking at it, pushing it away and distracting yourself will make it’s pain only greater and so it will scream louder.
Imagine a little child in front of you who screams and cries. Wouldn’t you want to soothe it and help it feel safe? Well, it’s the exact same with your inner child.
I will give you a real life example for the shadow child. Let’s say a person has a pattern of getting very angry whenever they can’t control a situation. On the outside all you see is a person being angry and maybe throwing a bit of a tantrum. It is possible that they keep being rejected by partners because they don’t feel safe and comfortable around them. In this case this person used to feel powerless in an unsafe environment when they were little. Anger gives them some kind of power which is why they go for that emotion.
As they have a deep wound that takes over when an outside trigger shows up they experience similar situations over and over again. The inner shadow child is begging for them to see it and heal the wound at the core – which means from one of the first experiences in their childhood when they felt powerless due to a lack of safety. If the person does the healing work and brings into awareness what causes all these outbursts they will experience an internal shift. They might still feel some anger coming up when they are triggered but they know -with their whole being, not just the mind – that this is the old program running through them and have a chance to not react to it like they used to. If they practice that frequently they create new neural pathways and feel more relaxed in difficult situations. And if they find strategies to truly be in their power in a way that is aligned with their highest self and therefor beneficial for others there is no need for these angry outbursts anymore.
This example came to mind as I was writing but you can apply it to all kinds of triggers. An inner child acting out is not always as obvious as in the example I just named. It can also show by pleasing other people, not standing up for oneself and suppressing our voice. There are so many possibilities of how the inner child can act out but I did want to make this clear because some ways are judged by society and others are accepted if not even encouraged. It’s important to be aware of this!
We all have certain patterns where our inner shadow child gets activated and it is important to deal with these aspects of ourselves. We need to learn to accept that we are light and shadow. That’s an essential part of the human experience and trying to avoid this reality can bring us into the greatest misery. We need to stop judging our inner shadow child, it really just wants love and attention and it deserves it. The more we embrace it the more compassionate we are also with other people and take things less personally.
Naturally, we want to just jump to the inner sun child and experience fun and pleasure – this is one of the reasons why we may reach out for substances or anything else that has a stimulating effect. Unfortunately that creates the complete opposite of what we want. We might experience some short term pleasure but in the longterm we feel even more neglected and unseen by ourselves. The truth is that the way to the light is through the dark, this is just how it works. The more safe your inner shadow child feels, the more space there is for the light of your sun child to shine through. In order to make it feel safe, you need to love it and see it. There is no way we can escape this. I tried so hard. I really did! But I can tell from my own journey it’s not a good idea. It’s time we do the work and become more whole.
When I work with people or myself I don’t really differentiate between sun and shadow and see it as one but I do resonate with this approach and think it can help us understand ourselves. That’s why I wanted to bring it up.
So, to go back to the original question. The main reason why so many of us disconnect from our inner child is because truly connecting with it means that we also have to face and feel the shadow part of it. The reason why it’s called shadow is because there is an absence of light. Only through our awareness we can illuminate the darkness within. But there is a reason why we locked parts of ourselves deep into our subconscious during certain experiences – we wanted to make sure that we never ever have to feel the pain and go through this again. The process of getting back in touch with it can be painful and super messy. That doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong, actually it means that you are brave to reconnect. No worries, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and it is SO worth it. The more your inner child comes back to life, the more enthusiastic you become about being a human being! And that is actually a pretty awesome gift.
Lots of love,