As we make our way through life’s journey, somewhere along our travels from childhood to adulthood we often pick up some very flawed beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. There’s one belief in particular that stands out, as it has the most damaging effects on our lives…
That belief is this:
That when we grow up, we have nothing to do with our childhood selves. That ‘childhood’ and ‘adulthood’ are two separate entities that exist independently of each other. Once we’ve grown up, we’ve moved on. We’re adults. And there’s nothing child-like about that – right?
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You’ve probably heard the term ‘inner child’ thrown around before, but like many terms, it’s gained a bit of a misunderstood reputation. In reality though, it’s super simple:
Think of your inner child like you think of your shadow. Although you’re not physically your shadow, it’s still very much connected to you and follows you wherever you go (even if it’s a bit hidden at times!).
The exact same goes with your inner child. Even though you’re not physically a child anymore, she’s still very much with you. Just because you’ve gained the title of “ADULT” doesn’t mean that you’ve suddenly severed all ties with the childlike part of yourself.
In fact, there are really only two things that have changed about you since you’ve become an adult:
1) your outward appearance
2) the things you’ve learned throughout your years living on this earth
And it’s this second one that we’ll be focusing on in this article – because this is one that causes us some problems!
The lens we see the world through
When we were children, we were constantly learning about ourselves and the world around us. Our minds were like these super porous sponges that just sopped up everything we saw, heard, and experienced.
We learned what was “right” from what was “wrong”, what was “good” from what was “bad”, and what was “normal” from what was “weird”. All these things we learned became logged in our mind to create a kind of ‘lens’ that we saw the world through. And this ‘world lens’ of ours doesn’t just stay with us in childhood, it stays with us our entire lives.
In other words, the experiences we’ve had in the past shape the way we see (and behave in) the present.
This can be a bit tricky to understand, so if you’d like a bit of a deeper explanation, check out this previous blog post: How Negative Thinking Gets Wired into Your Brain. It does a great job explaining how this “thought-logging” works in more detail.
Related Article: How Negative Thinking Gets Wired into Your Brain
What becomes of bad experiences?
Now, many of the things we learned as children that become logged in our minds as adults were perfectly fine. For example, if we burnt the tip of our finger on a candle, for the rest of our lives we would know that fire = hot. I think we can all agree that that’s a fairly useful part of our ‘world lens’!
But there are also many harmful experiences that have become logged in our minds that make us believe certain things. These are called “wounds”. These wounds will differ from person to person, but there’s one thing for sure: everyone has wounds in some form or another. In fact, the vast majority of the negative behaviours and negative traits we have in life are a direct result of unhealed wounds from our childhood.
Here are 22 common signs that you may have unhealed wounds from childhood:
- You have low self-esteem
- You have poor body image
- You have problems when it comes to eating (bad relationship with food)
- You have feelings of shame or regret over something that happened in the past
- You’re a people-pleaser
- You feel inadequate as an adult
- You have trouble committing to or trusting other people
- You have difficulty letting go of things (or people)
- You feel as if you don’t have your own sense of identity
- You have feelings of guilt/shame when it comes to romance
- You have issues with jealousy
- You have social anxiety
- You regularily engage in self-destructive behaviour
- You have trouble doing “grown-up” things on your own
- You have difficulty making decisions (either big or small)
- You’re unable to assert your own opinion to others
- You have anger issues/you can’t control your emotions
- You feel anxious when outisde of your comfort zone
- You feel like you’re wearing a “mask” around other people (you feel you can’t fully be yourself)
- You have dependency issues
- You’re passive-aggressive
- You have difficulty communicating/confronting others
Hot to figure out what your wounds were
There are SO many different types of childhood wounds that may result in negative behaviours (like the ones listed above) in adulthood.
On the more extreme side, there’s trauma. Trauma is the most harmful wound of all, as it can have absolutely devastating consequences.
But besides trauma, there are so many other ‘little’ wounds that may have caused you to behave a certain way in adulthood. Here are a few examples of some common negative behaviours and the possible wounds that may have caused them:
- Negative behaviour/trait: you have difficulty asserting yourself to others
- Possible wound: You were taught that “children should be heard and not seen”
- Negative behaviour/trait: you have guilt when it comes to romance
- Possible wound: You were told that you couldn’t date until you graduated High School
- Negative behaviour/trait: you believe you’re incapable of doing things on your own
- Possible wound: You were coddled as a child
These are of course just a few examples – I encourage you to do some digging and think about what your own wounds may be!
But even if you can’t quite pinpoint what your specific wounds were, that’s totally okay! You don’t need to know exactly what they were in order to overcome the negative behaviours associated with them.
The only thing you need to realize is that you DO have wounds from your childhood, and that they are in desperate need of some TLC!
So in part 2 of this article, I’ll be going over 12 practical steps you can take to reconnect with and heal your inner child.