Insight Mind Body Talk

Ep 22: Healing Your Inner Child

November 14, 2021 Jessica Warpula Schultz, LMFT Season 1 Episode 13
Insight Mind Body Talk
Ep 22: Healing Your Inner Child
Show Notes Transcript

In Healing Your Inner Child, Jessica Warpula Schultz, LMFT, and Jeanne Kolker, LPC, look at the prevalence of trauma and how every adult has a wounded child within.  They discuss theories that help to explain how our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are influenced by the Inner Child.  And as always, they provide mind-body tips and strategies to begin re-parenting your wounded, younger self.

AVAILABLE for PRE-PURCHASE!  "Healing Your Inner Child".  An e-course presented by Insight Wellness and Jessica Warpula Schultz.  Available December 1st, "Healing Your Inner Child" , is a starter guide to healing childhood wounds and living your best life. To learn about enrolling in this comprehensive, self-driven journey click HERE.







Continue Learning

  • Janina Fisher
    • https://janinafisher.com/
    • Book: Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors
  • Polyvagal Theory
    • The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.  Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D.
    • Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation.  Deborah A. Dana, LCSW
    •  Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of the Polyvagal Theory. Deborah A. Dana, LCSW 
  • Internal Family Systems 
    • Richard Schwartz, PhD
    • https://ifs-institute.com/
  • Thich Nhat Hanh
    • Book: Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child
  • Nadine Burke Harris
    • "How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime"
    • Book: The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity





Produced by Jessica Warpula Schultz & Jeanne Kolker
Edited by Jessica Warpula Schultz

Music by Jason A. Schultz

 [00:00:00] welcome to Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-based mental health podcast. We're your hosts, Jessica Warpula Schultz and Jeanne Kolker. Whether you've tried everything to feel better and something is still missing or you've already discovered the wisdom of the body. This podcast will encourage and support you in healing old wounds, strengthening relationships, and developing your inner potential- all by accessing the mind body connection. 

Please know, while we're excited to share and grow together. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment. It doesn't replace the one-on-one relationship you have with a qualified healthcare professional and is not considered psychotherapy. 

Thanks Jess. And thank you for listening. Now, let's begin a conversation about what happens when we take an integrative approach to improving our wellbeing. Welcome to insight. Mind, body talk where your hosts Jeannie Kolker and [00:01:00] I'm Jessica Warpula Schultz. Welcome to our conversation today.

We're going to dig into childhood. We are going to talk about healing, the inner child using somatic. Techniques. And in order for us to do that, we need to really look at childhood trauma. So this is a heavy topic. Jess, it's really heavy. It's important, but it's heavy. I agree. I don't tend to want to go back to their childhood and dig all that up because the past is past.

But what we've learned as we've talked about trauma is that when we have trauma, we tend to live in the past or bodies live in the past. So we have to go back and look at that. Yeah. Yeah. As a marriage and family therapist, we often look at how our family of origin, which is the nuclear family.

We grew up in our hometown or schools or environment, how it really [00:02:00] shaped who we were as children, how it created implicit memories which are, memories that live below the surface of consciousness may be more in our bodies or in our more emotions and explicit memories, which are the ones we can remember and how all of that kind of comes together to shape the individual that we don't exist in these vacuums.

We have to look at all of it to think about the current moment what's happening right here. And right now , and it's pretty fascinating how much research is now being done on all the things that we're talking about today. And when you and I were growing up, there was no awareness, no such thing as.

Adverse childhood experiences. We didn't talk about epigenetics and how our genes are turned on and off dependent on our environment. We just did our best and our parents, did the best they could with what they had in some cases. But now we're really seeing a lot of [00:03:00] research emerging.

And so I'd like to start by talking about the adverse childhood experiences study. You've heard about this, Jess. Yes. Often called the ACEs study, really pivotal in child development research and child development theory. And. Trauma research . Yeah. And this came about in the 1990s.

So really that's just in my memory. Yeah, that was yesterday. It's new. I am still living in 1996, 97. And my mind, I still believe that I'm above that age, but that's how recent this is, really with within the last 20, some years, we've started talking about this and back in the mid nineties a large scale study took place and Southern California and San Diego with Kaiser Permanente and the CDC.

So it was a big health insurer and the centers for disease control. And they looked at the health outcomes for over 17,000 adults. [00:04:00] So they did a pretty comprehensive study of. Working adults, you know these, so we're not talking about kids, we're talking about adults and they did surveys on substance use in the home sexual abuse, divorce.

And they looked at these 10 categories that were really looking at what had happened to people before the age of 18. And what they found was pretty stark. So this is a group of, 17,000 people. And what they found was that these adverse childhood experiences were fairly common.

 what experiences they had before age 18.

So they surveyed people on these 10 different categories that had to do with physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, living with a parent or caregiver with mental illness, living with parent or caregiver who may have [00:05:00] had some criminal activity, perhaps incarcerated the majority more than half of people had at least one type of adverse childhood experience and many more reported, four or more types of adverse childhood experiences. And that was pretty eye-opening at the time. And what they started to really look at was, they done research before in more at risk populations.

But this Kaiser study was, majority white middle-class with good health care adults. And they found that people were profoundly impacted by adverse childhood experiences. So we're not talking about, people with lower socio economic status living in class.

That's one of them, poverty is one of that's, things they measured, but you're right. They were there realizing after the study that a large number of people had certain health conditions, heart [00:06:00] disease, mental conditions, such as depression that were impacting how they were in the world And that if we look at reducing adverse childhood experiences, we can actually reduce a large number of health conditions, which I think is so phenomenal to think about when we think about what's happening now to people, how do we preventatively treat it? Where we support children? Yeah. And this came to my knowledge through Nadine Burke Harris, she's the Surgeon General in California. and she's got a Ted talk that's very famous and she wrote a book

 Called The Deepest Well, and it's a really good book. She's a great writer. It delves into the physiology of this. So yeah. She looked at these people who had all these adverse childhood experiences and then linked this to, like you said, health outcomes, like heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, things that were medical and not [00:07:00] behavioral.

 We can't just say of course people had rough childhoods. They're going to smoke. They're going to turn to drugs and alcohol and risky behavior. And they're going to have worse health outcomes that wasn't the case at all. So she writes about how our bodies hold onto this trauma and.

Because of a lot of complex processes in both the brain and the body, it leads to disease. So her book is wonderful. I highly recommend it. It gets a little bit dense because she really does dig into the brain science. So for those of us who get excited about that, it's a wonderful read, but she's just a great storyteller too.

 I think it's accessible for anybody. And she has a Ted talk to, you said, yes, she has a Ted talk, right? Nadine Burke Harris. Yeah. She's a wonderful speaker. And I think it really just captured attention because it's medical because childhood trauma leads to poor health outcomes.

So it's not, it's nothing that is bad behavior. It's not, we can't [00:08:00] quickly just judge and dismiss. This is something that we all have to look at. Agreed. Agreed. And even in the fitness world, often people are trying to figure out why is it hard for me to integrate new lifestyle behaviors?

Or why do I have these health conditions, or why do I fit into an extreme category of one health concern or another? And they haven't looked back on their childhood experiences. And doing so I think helps complete and give complete the picture, give a bigger sense of what's going on holistically. And that gives us more information how to treat and help heal is to look at the inner child, to look at what behaviors still exist today that maybe our little person needed to complete and do maybe it wasn't safe to act in a certain way that now as adults, we really wish we had that habit.

So really breaking it down. And our childhood is a great place to start doing that well, when we recognize that we're all just wounded [00:09:00] children, it's, it levels the playing field, I think, and it removes judgment. And when we discover, this, these scientific advances, we realize that the brain that has been stressed to the point of toxicity is different.

Then the brain that hasn't, we all need some stress, but when we've had so many adverse experiences in our childhood, the brain is different. We just have different functions that are happening in the brain or are not happening in the brain. And that toxic stress this is something that's happening over and over.

So then the brain and the body get in this feedback loop that then becomes, our habits, our patterns into adulthood. And that's why just like you said, people often say, I know what to do. Why don't I do it? Because it's stuck in our bodies. Yeah. Yeah. Once we understand this, it is really hard to just talk our way out of it, to tell ourselves that we're safe, that we're no [00:10:00] longer neglected or abused by adults that we have agency. We can empower ourselves. It's hard to just talk about that. We actually need to embody that and feel that sense.

And in order to do that, we have to help that little kid within us to feel safe and empowered.

 So when we talk about healing, the inner child, we have so many options to do that.

And I like to just start with Nadine Burke Harris, since we've already been talking about her in her book, she explains that to combat that toxic stress that we've experienced when we've had adverse childhood experiences, she recommends a six pronged approach. So making sure that we're getting enough sleep, sleep, exercise, correct nutrition for our bodies, that we practice mindfulness that we attend to our mental health and that we foster healthy relationships.

So those really fit in with the work that you and I [00:11:00] do. And what we talk about on this podcast. Of course sleep is for all of our processes for healing and. It's one of those things to sleep. It's something that people are so quick to give up or to barter with. And I encourage everyone to get as much sleep, that seven to eight hours or whatever works best for you.

And it's hard, especially for an a sympathetic, we've talked about polyvagal before in this podcast. If we're in this mobilization place, it can be really hard to sleep, but that's where part of this ties in also to polyvagal is how can we get our systems to get into this safe, relaxed place?

So that week our resources, our energy, if we're not in a relaxed, safe state, our body will use that adrenaline and cortisol for a survival response instead of a healing and restorative response. Sleep is really essential to that. How can we feel safe so that we can [00:12:00] sleep?

And I have really rediscovered the joy of an afternoon nap during the day saying that I'm getting closer and closer to trying this out because you are man. Yeah it's, it reminds me of being a kid. You remember, we went to kindergarten, you had your little mat and you'd roll it out.

And I always fought it. I didn't want it. I didn't want to nap because I didn't want to miss anything, but boy now it's 20 minutes, middle of the day. It just gives me a little boost and it's it. It. It feels healing my camp counselor, and we have call it "F.O.B.B.Y. Time".

So it's like flat on your back by yourself, like in your bunk, basically where to honor that the system needs to rest and have quiet, even if you're just reading or coloring or even taking a nap. Completely agree without technology. So put the phone away. Yeah. Agreed. I think that's a very healing thing.

And of course, exercise goes along with that, we need to move our bodies in order [00:13:00] to discharge our energy so that we can rest well, our body, our brain is built for movement. And when we don't move, our system feels off. There's something lacking. So movement, nutrition, so important to consider if our body has enough nutrients and not only our body, but also our heart and mind and soul, are we nourishing ourselves though.

Important to think about. Yeah. And I also think about going back to childhood too, like you're when you were a kid, you just intuitively knew what you wanted to eat. Some of us were pickier eaters than others, but when you were hungry and you stopped when you were fall until the toxic stress then interferes and perhaps you use food as a coping mechanism or develop an unhealthy relationship with food, . Mindfulness? Mindfulness is easy to inner child work.

There's no way we can do that work without a level of mindful [00:14:00] awareness. Yes, exactly. We have to be in the present in order to really look at the past from a neutral and healing perspective. We can't just be pulled back into those emotions. We need to be able to be very present and that's where mindfulness comes in the other thing, of course, mental health. We are huge proponents of mental health care. And I think we could both talk about how mental health care has helped us heal our inner children. Very much so it's the conduit, the pipeline in a lot of ways, at least for me, is to honor my mental health is just as important as any other part of who I am and to help heal my adult self, as well as my inner child and healthy relationships.

Having positive experiences with people, feeling safe with people, that regulation definitely. So this is what she encourages these [00:15:00] six areas. So if someone is thinking about where do I even begin to think about being with my inner child or creating an environment to work with my inner child, go to these six different areas and start.

Looking at sleep nutrition, mental health and exercise. And of course you and I are both big proponents of body approaches. I like yoga. And I know that you are very interested in weightlifting, personal training, and that's been a big part.

I'm I assume that's been a pretty big part of your healing journey. You're right. And I've shared before on this podcast, that movement was really scary for me when I was little, when I exercise, especially cardiovascular. It created symptoms that were very much like panic attacks. And when I was little, I didn't know it was anxiety. I didn't know it was a panic attack.

I just felt a complete sense of overwhelm. And some freeze mixed in and a little bit of shutdown as well. And so I [00:16:00] avoided exercise. And a lot of the work I've done as a personal trainer in regards to my own healing has been building a relationship with my body where my inner child also feels safe moving, right?

Because if my adult self is like, yep, I'm going to go to spin class. And I dealt self is like, yep, I'm going to squat one 25. And my inner child is scared. It's not going to happen, or it's not going to happen very well, or it's going to be re-traumatizing to that inner child. So a lot of the work I've done within my own self and regards to my health and wellbeing has been to allow my inner child to feel safe and supported.

And building the autonomic resiliency where sympathetic energy doesn't cause overwhelm anymore because I'm regulated and I'm returning to safety and even needing to check in with the inner child, like how you doing, cause when I'm in spin class and I [00:17:00] want to turn up that resistance a little more, unless it's my hip, most likely it's my inner child who doesn't want to turn that resistance up.

Who starts feeling trapped, who starts feeling overwhelmed, who doesn't feel like they're allowed to stop. who doesn't feel like they're allowed To say no. And even in those moments being present and checking in and supporting that inner child, be really restorative. Agreed. I think that there's so much healing that happens when we're doing things that are just, run of the mill every day.

Things, and I had a really difficult relationship with my body as a child. So when I was about eight or nine, I just got really sick. I was very ill and it was unexplainable to my doctors and it actually got to a real crisis point where it was it it got very bad. I had a crisis and was in the hospital and it was discovered that I had Addison's Disease, which [00:18:00] is an auto-immune disease in which the adrenal glands don't function properly.

So I wasn't getting the stress hormones. I wasn't getting the things that we need to survive. So I began this journey of. Trying to heal when there was really not a lot of knowledge on how to treat a child with that, cause it was typically much more adult onset. So I had a really difficult time with my body growing up.

I was sick a lot and exercise is not good. . Gym class was not good. I just couldn't do it. I had, no, I didn't have the cortisol that was, produced like other kids. And it was, it was really challenging to feel comfortable in my body. And so that's, I consider that my trauma, it's not an adverse childhood experience in terms of the study of the 10 categories.

Cause I had a wonderful family that made me feel loved and special, so it was, I had all of that support. [00:19:00] So I was very resilient in that, but I didn't start to heal until. I discovered yoga later on in life. I discovered dancing and love dancing who knew. And I actually, it's really interesting, but I discovered kickball later on kickball, talk about healing, the inner child.

So good. I've been really proud of myself and I've kicked a good kick and got into first space. Cause I didn't think I'd be able to do, I had to kick ball team too when I first moved to Madison and such joy in play. And yes I, I was always the bunter I would just bent and then right. I'm up like pretend for a big kick and then people.

Psych people out. And that was actually, I look back now and it was so therapeutic, it was just, it was fun. It was just an excuse for friends to get together and enjoy the beautiful weather and just goof off and feel like a kid [00:20:00] again. But now I'm realizing that was so healing for me. I was discharging that trapped energy in my limbs.

That's all that sympathetic energy. I was laughing a ton and I felt safe and supported in those relationships. And it was routine. It was regular. It was weekly. I did it for 12 years. Oh, that's awesome. I miss it. I miss it so much. It's like kickball team. Yes. Yes. We have discussed that. I'm all for it. I was captain for a couple of years and I still remember, , really good friendships made. Yeah. And that's, we're talking about healing, the inner child. It can be that what I call like insidious kind of healing, where you're not setting out to say I need to heal my childhood trauma.

I'm going to join a kickball league. It just was one of those things that I discovered joy in my body and I, my body and I had always been adversaries. We had really struggled. Yoga really helped [00:21:00] me get to a point where I could be comfortable in my body. And then I had that practice and I was unable to play.

And it was, that's been very healing for me. Thank you for sharing it. Yeah, but I'm a side mental note kickball team. This is going to happen in the fall who knew that yeah, kickball was a therapeutic intervention, but here we are. But here we are. And it is, and that's what you said earlier, that there is no one way to, to heal your inner child or to be present with your inner child.

But what it sounds like, is in the yoga, the mindfulness of being able to see and notice and be with your inner child and to recognize. What was there and befriend those younger parts then led later to also further integration of those younger parts into your adult self.

And [00:22:00] you're talking about parts. This is very much the internal Family Systems coming out. I Internal Family Systems, which often we call IFS. Created by Richard Swartz in the eighties and 

 As a family therapist, again, talking about how the family system shapes who we are. Dr. Schwartz was starting to see that there was even a family system inside of ourselves that we could develop strategies, to work with the issues within a person's internal community or like our internal family.

So IFS assumes each individual has a variety of sub personalities or parts. And I want to put the disclaimer, which I tell every client, no, I'm not saying you have multiple personality disorder. I am saying every person has different parts and it's a wonderful language. A part of me wants to go for a walk and a part of me just wants to stay on the couch.

Yeah. We use that language all the time.[00:23:00] 

How a part of me really misses my bangs. A part of me does not, are we talking about me? This idea that we all have these subpersonalities or parts, and in IFS . We want to have the parts, build relationships with our Self leading the, in that leads to healing. And what do I mean by the Self?

 in IFS The human mind is divided into an unknown number of parts and each person, each one of us has a Self with capital S if you saw it in print and that Self is the chief agent in coordinating the inner family.

Now the Self is also the healing aspect of who we are. And some days I refer to it as are going on with everyday life self or the adult self, IFS uses eight different adjectives to describe Self-energy and some of them are compassion, curiosity, calm.

That's the healing aspect.[00:24:00] Usually about three distinct parts show up to therapy. Okay. We all have different parts and some of them don't need to go to therapy. They're doing fine 

but the ones that show up, you know, on our door, our managers, so they're responsible for maintaining the functioning of everything. So if you think about it, everybody loves makes our manager parts. They're the ones who coordinate schedules run day to day life. Now they're job behind the scenes though, is to prevent pain from happening.

 For example, a manager part may keep someone very much on schedule because feeling out of control is painful or scary. That manager . Takes over. Now there's also firefighter parts. firefighter parts, show up when they want to stop pain. Those are the parts that are reactive. Maybe we don't like them as much. They can tend to be extreme 

Jess: so if a wound has been activated these firefight fighter parts who really, [00:25:00] they don't give SHOOT how they stop the pain they'll do anything. So we're looking maybe at an eating disorder or an addiction or chronic suicidality, these parts we'll take any step to stop that wound or stop that pain.

And then of course, I'm talking about wounds. There's the wounded or burdened parts also called exiles. And they're the parts of ourselves who often. Result from traumatic experiences, they're in a state of pain , and often those parts are stuck in implicit memories. Implicit memory is a body sensation or an emotion memories, beliefs.

When we look at all these parts, our goal. Is to have the parts start building a relationship to the Self because they're outside of theSself, in trauma occurs in childhood, especially when our nervous system is in a phase of rapid development. Often children have to learn how to [00:26:00] live with what happens from a traumatic experience in order to survive.

And so sometimes these parts get separated from the Self. To explain that further something traumatic happens and the self energy has to leave to protect itself because we wouldn't survive without it and then a chasms created. And the part that's left is there to carry the burden.

So if someone's being bullied at school, let's say younger child bullied on a daily basis, the Self-energy has to leave to take care of itself and protect. And then that part is left with the bullying. And so we want to help that part who was bullied, tell their story and build that relationship back to the Self and heal.

And that's a process in IFS called unburdening where the park gets to share their story and they are seen and validated and catered for oh, [00:27:00] I'm burdened. We noticed that there's activation in our system or we're suddenly really upset or there's a strong emotion. I encourage people to reframe it as a younger part, showing up a younger part.

We don't even need to necessarily know how, or when that part experienced that trauma. Let's just honor that there's a younger part here and right away, even that allows the everyday going on life, self our adult self to have some mindful separation and already feel a little bit more regulated. And then also who doesn't have a compassionate response to a wounded child, right?

Yeah. Increases that compassion. And what it does is it allows our adult self to be someone that, that inner child can safely count on what do children really need? They need reassurance and support. They need to know everything will be okay and they need to tell their story whether it's accurate or not, [00:28:00] and they need to be supported. In IFS is that all parts are welcome. No parts are wrong. All these parts have good intentions. If there's an extreme behavior, often it's just trying to help bring regulation or protection to the system.

And we all have that, Self-energy it doesn't need to be created. It's just within. So when those inner child parts can be with Self energy, we can have permanent healing of those emotional wounds. We can release the protector parts from their extreme roles because often those protectors show up control that shows up to protect a wound, a younger part.

If that Self energy is there for the wound and that younger part, that other part doesn't need tocontrol anymore and it can relax. And what I often like to ask as well, if that controlling part didn't have to control so [00:29:00] hard, what would it rather do? And most often it's so interesting to hear what people say it would like to sling.

It would like to write it up. Of course it would like you do go for a walk. Okay. This is great because it's not the parts that. We're trying to banish, it's the method they're trying to take care of that inner child. And so for we in our self healing energy can be there for those wounds, those extreme parts, those protective parts don't have to do those jobs that cause suffering.

I think that's really a game changer. It is when we start to look at the prevalence of trauma and the fact that we are all carrying some level of trauma and have a traumatized child within us, it helps to explain behaviors. It explains our reactions. It actually is just so empowering in my opinion, to look at this and people don't love to hear.

I think we need to work with your wounded child. That's [00:30:00] very scary.

Well, I think often we also don't feel like. We have the resources to work with that inner child. It's so foreign it's well, what could I even offer the inner child? So it's a chance to reparent ourselves. That's a lot of the work we do with our inner child is we reparent it, like you said, our parents are our true parents, the ones who gave her through us, they're always doing the best they can.

This isn't about that. Someone has failed us necessarily it's that there are wounds no matter what, because we are human. And at some point a child was wounded and we've talked about trauma. It can be a small trauma or a large trauma or multiple traumas or complex or cute. But the point is that we all have wounds.

And we can reparent those wounds. One of the first steps I do to help people I work with get a sense of what parts are activated [00:31:00] as a result of being triggered is one using mindfulness, right? And what we do is we diagram the system. This is from Janina Fisher in her book, Healing, the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors, a book written for therapists, it's an amazing read.

And she teaches about diagramming these different parts. And so what you do is we want to look at if there's a trigger, someone is triggered by something. I have no, give me a trigger Jeanne. I can't think of one. Somebody treats you unfairly. Someone treats you unfairly and someone says how do I know where my inner child is?

I just know I'm really upset or I got really angry with that person or I shut down. So what we would do is we would start to look at the whole system, right system of these parts. And we want to notice who became activated as a result of being treated unfairly. We would [00:32:00] look at usually there's, about three to five different parts, maybe.

So maybe one part is anger. Maybe one part feels scared. Maybe there's another part who acted out as a result of that. Maybe there's another part who wanted to offer compassion or feels guilty about what happened. The purposes is to look at who's showing up and why.

So which of these parts are in your children or wounds, which of these parts are managers trying to control or prevent the pain and which of these parts are reacting really strongly to put the pain out. And once we can explore and identify these parts, then we try to really get to know them. We're curious, why are you here?

What are you doing? What do you need? Compassion and validation. And then we start to diagram a solution [00:33:00] and not just a broad solution, right? Because often we think if someone hurt my feelings, I should do this like one thing. But if you have four parts that were upset when you were treating them fairly, each one of those parts probably needs a different solution, especially one's an inner child.

We start exploring how self-energy or going on with normal life, adult self can offer healing to those younger parts. So that again, those manager parts or the reactive part who says screw you, I'm not going to be in this relationship anymore.

Then you get to reparent that. Yeah, that's right. I often think when we find those inner children strategies that are helpful, are self holding or contact being honest, that inner child needs to hear you're right.

We felt this way a lot when we were little and that was really scary, but you're safe now. Yeah, there's a dialogue that needs to happen. We need to actually listen to [00:34:00] what our inner child is trying to tell us and then respond, let them know. What would you like to tell your inner child? Yeah.

That's crucial is I have on a note card at my desk and I probably repeat it.

I repeated a lot and actually have it hanging in my house as well. Can you feel from her but not become her? So can I feel from my inner child but not blend and become that part and then make choices from that place. And that dual awareness helps us challenge the reality that, oh, wait, this person does care about me.

My inner child feels like they don't, but they do, even if they are feelings and you can hold that dual awareness and we can tend to the inner child. And then we can also function from a place that our adult going on with life, self wants to function from , that's a great way to look at it. It is, we have to be with the suffering, unfortunately, [00:35:00] the suffering of that inner child.

And that's where this mindfulness comes in, that we have to be aware that there is that part of us that is still wounded. And we have to take that part with us, and tend to, like you said, 10 to that part. And. Actually reminds me a lot of, Thich Nhat Hanh's work. He is a Vietnamese monk. Who's written a lot of books and he wrote one called Reconciliation about healing, the inner child, really through mindfulness.

Just like you're talking about he writes about taking that inner child with you everywhere you go. And listening a few for a few minutes every day. What does your inner child have to say when you're going on a walk in nature? Can you imagine that you're taking that inner child with you?

Can you do that work of reparenting in a very soft kind, joyful way, and we can only do that when we're regulated ourselves. So that's where all those other prongs of support come with sleep and exercise and nutrition and healthy [00:36:00] relationships and mental health care. And then we can do that work continuously.

This is not a one and done situation. I think that's really frustrating for a lot of people like I just want to fix this wounded child within me, but that wounded child is also the wounded children of your parents and their parents. When we imagine that, I think it's actually a lot easier for us to contact some kindness when we picture ourselves as children that can really elicit some emotions.

But then if we picture our parents as children and their parents as children, and we truly are holding onto their traumas, that is in our genetic material that is with us today. And we contain all of that today. So it is something that we have to tend very lovingly and it is. Hard work. It's often best [00:37:00] done with a compassionate guide, like a therapist, and it's best done when we are able to regulate ourselves and able to really feel into these difficult emotions.

Yes. Agreed. And I think that's so important to consider thinking about what our body holds even intergenerationally, like you said, and so essential. . it is. And I know that's heavy stuff. It's very heavy. . I like what you say that you have to come back to the inner child.

On a consistent basis. You're right. Often we want to focus once and be done. And yet anyone who's parented or worked with children, imagine how many times you have to reassure that child that they're okay. Or how many times do you have to ask them to take their shoes off at the door or give those responses or support?

We can't just tell our children. We love them once. And then they know [00:38:00] we remind them and we coach them and we support them. And our inner child needs that exact same approach. So there's nothing wrong with us. Yeah. If it doesn't stick on that first time, like why is this inner child still upset even now?

There doesn't need to be a why let's just support and be there for them. Yeah, to be present with that suffering and the, with the intention of transforming it, we have to acknowledge it. We have to recognize that this is hard, that this is suffering, but we are consistently showing that loving kindness to our inner child in many different ways.

So we both probably have different approaches to do that or how we would recommend. And again, it's a very, it's a very individual process. I like to start with joy. I like to have people tap into some joy, and that can be really hard, especially when we're talking about this, but you [00:39:00] know, children are joyful, can be joyful.

We come into this world with joy, essentially and of course, trauma and all of the ancestral wounds that we carry. But we have to come back to joy. So I often will have people create a playlist for themselves that is just joy. So sometimes that bring them joy. Who doesn't need, an hour long playlist of songs that make you happy.

It's a wonderful, immediately done recording. It's a wonderful tool. I love it. Love the joy playlist. And gratitude is a big part of this too. So I like to encourage people to write a letter of gratitude to people who have shown up for their inner child or shown up for them as a child. We can look back and hopefully call up in our awareness, one kind adult presence who truly saw us and believed in us and whether or not that [00:40:00] person is still in our lives around this earth.

We can still write that letter and express that gratitude. And that can be a very healing. Thing for our inner child as well. I think that's so important.

 . And we have to practice mindfulness daily too. There are many meditations out there on healing, the inner child, and it doesn't have to be a weekend intensive. It can just be every day. Maybe it's just like a compassionate holding of that in your child.

Like I said, some, self contact is really important. Maybe hand to the heart or hands over the heart, or just giving yourself a hug every day and moving your body in a way that feels like play can be really therapeutic as well. Agreed. I, for me, some of the things I recommend.

 Going back to how we speak with them and the language around it. Often as adults, we try to talk about [00:41:00] talk to our inner child as if it's an adult. And often it's on a cognitive level of adult talking to another adult. They're trying to get them to see the logic. They're trying to reassure them. You're fine. You have this great apartment.

Why are you worried? You have a job. And I use the example. If there are two children playing on the playground and one accidentally trips, another one, we've all seen it. There they're in their own zone.

They don't even see each other. And they collide. One child gets hurt and starts crying and is really upset and blames the other child. They did it on purpose and as observers we know that's not true. Now, if you try to talk to that child who is really upset and crying and who's overwhelmed and in pain, if we start with rationalizing.

Don't blame them. They didn't try. It's no one's fault. That's not going to soothe that child. We first need to be there for that child and offer comfort support [00:42:00] and safety honor oh, that must hurt. Let's get you a bandaid. I'm here for you.

You're okay. And then when they regulate, you can explain if needed, Hey, it was an accident and they're much more open to hearing that, but, often as adults, we try to rationalize right away with our inner children and reassure them in ways that it's not going to work with a kid. So I love imagining our little self.

And how would you talk to an actual child to help them regulate and then provide the safety that they need? I think that's great. I often ask people to find a picture of themselves as children and keep it displayed, keep it somewhere that they can see it so that they're able to really contact that. 

But I'll just cry every day. I look at her and just, I love you so much. And truly is it's therapeutic, but hard. Anything that's therapeutic is challenging. There has to be that [00:43:00] growth that window of tolerance, right? So we need to make sure that we're able to tolerate that, but it can also just be an opportunity for joy to, to be able to recognize, Hey, there, there were some really happy memories from childhood and to be able to call that up and just to savor that feeling.

And again, it's just like the joy playlist. When you hear that you're going to feel joy and you're going to pulse that emotion and feel that, that sense of that opposite emotion. That from what we're often used to feeling like fear. Sadness. So lots of little things that we can do to help them.

Absolutely. And when we think about play, play is not supposed to have a purpose. So I often encourage, what did you do as a little kid, your favorite hobbies? Was it Lego's, was it swinging? What did you love that actually had no end purpose? And can we bring more of that into our daily life? You know, on my walks, I do a walk, which in part is this adult thing where I want to be in [00:44:00] nature and regulate, and then I stop and I swing when I'm close to my home.

And that's when I, oh, how are you doing inner child? Do you really like this? How does it feel to pump your legs and feel the breeze on your face and to, do all those tricks we used to do on swings when we were younger. Really honor and give that gift of being in that moment.

It is hard to pass a set of monkey bars as an adult, but I don't want to be that in that person on the playground 

like, 

Jess: oh, I have no problem being, is that lady doing she upside down?

aren't you like tall enough at this point that you can just hold the monkey bar

depends. Depends on the play equipment. That's fair. Hmm. Just like you said, it does not have to be structured and it doesn't have to be that physically exhausting either. No, it can be just playing a game, playing cards, just playing it's very [00:45:00] healing.

 I love talking about the inner child. I love working with the inner child. I'm so glad that we're here doing this. Yes, me too. Jess thanks for sharing your expertise. And I think that this is one of those topics that will be to be continued. There's always more to talk about this.

well, I'll look in our show notes. If you ever hear about a book or a Ted talk and you're interested in learning more, it will always be in our show notes. You can go to insight. madison.com/podcast.

Click on the podcast link, click on the episode. You'll get the show notes and yeah. Keep learning. Keep growing, working with your inner child. Keep playing. He playing. Keep playing. Thanks Jess. Thanks Jeanne. 

 Thank you again for joining us on Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-centered mental health podcast. We hope today's episode was [00:46:00] empowering and supported you in strengthening your mind-body connection We're your hosts Jeanne and Jess. Please join us again as we continue to explore integrative approaches to wellbeing. Until then, take care.