Recovery comes with a world of possibilities. But that can sometimes lead to unfulfilled promises if we’re living with unhealthy core beliefs. We’re going to change that. With this holistic step by step guide on healing your inner child in sobriety, you’ll be given the tools you need to build a lasting and strong relationship with yourself.
OUR CHILDHOOD BELIEFS
Starting right around birth, we have all been programmed to behave a certain way. That conditioning dictates how we live our life.
Sometimes what we’ve learned doesn’t give us the opportunity to become functional adults. So we’re left wondering why we don’t have healthy relationships with ourselves and others.
Until those old paradigms are shattered, we’ll keep repeating the same mistakes. However, with gentle and deliberate effort, you can take the steps to heal and nurture your inner child.
Because this is about healing old wounds and not creating new ones, give yourself the space and compassion to unlearn old behavioral patterns while creating new ones. As Julia Cameron so aptly says, “progress, not perfection.”
Grab a cup of coffee or tea, get comfy, and get the details with this step by step guide on healing your inner child in sobriety.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
If you’re not feeling ok, that’s ok. It’s not easy to admit how we’re really feeling because we’ve been taught since childhood that certain emotions are wrong. There are no wrong emotions.
Maybe you’re struggling to understand what emotions you’re feeling. That’s natural, especially when you’ve been ostracized for attempting to articulate them. Start with the opposite:
- Happiness- Anger
- Joy- Grief
- Pleasure- Rage
- Love- Hatred
- Peace- Fear
When you can begin identifying your emotions, you’ll be able to better understand what part of your inner child needs healing. Take it slow.
VALIDATE YOUR EMOTIONS
I know this one’s tough, especially when you’re so used to running away from your emotions. But it’s also the only way you can heal on a deeply fundamental level. Start feeling what you need to feel. Let it all come to the surface.
Sometimes we need to revisit the past to heal from it.
But that doesn’t mean reliving the past. There’s a fine line between it being constructive and when it’s debilitating our growth. How do you tell the difference between the two?
Here’s an example: We’ve all been scolded for eating something we shouldn’t have eaten as children. In some cases, there was physical and emotional abuse involved. In others, it was a warning to not cross that line again.
When that same scenario gets played over and over in your mind (no matter the severity of the scolding), you’re reliving the past. If that memory surfaces and you choose to ignore it, you’re repressing the trauma of that incident.
Whether you’re reliving your past or repressing it, it’s perfectly normal. We all have different ways of processing emotions.
But this is also your opportunity to grow from them. Don’t dismiss your feelings and emotions. Because no matter how illogical or irrational anyone thinks they are (even yourself), they’re there for a reason. Witness them without judgment.
PHYSICALLY RELEASE THE TRAUMA
We (unknowingly) store emotions and trauma in our bodies. Even if we’ve mentally processed the pain and suffering, if our bodies haven’t healed from the trauma, we stay stuck. It can show up in self-sabotaging behaviors like procrastination, overthinking, creating countless “what if” scenarios, etc.
Yoga is amazing to help release those pent up emotions and this article explains how. You can also do at home energy exercises to purge the trauma from your body. Whether you choose yoga or energy healing, it’s going to help you heal the child within.
CELEBRATE YOUR WINS
The journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.~Lao Tzu
No matter how big or small, celebrate your victories. Even if the best you could do today was to get in the shower, celebrate that. The more you acknowledge that you’re worthy of your own time and attention, the more you’re healing your inner child.
Reward yourself for the little things- buy flowers or chocolate. Or go back to your childhood for inspiration. Was there something you wanted to do as a kid but weren’t allowed? Give it a try. What was your favorite childhood pastime? Do that thing.
When was the last time you embraced yourself? Paid yourself a compliment? Or even said “I love you” to yourself?
Probably not in a long time. Maybe never. For those of us who had highly dysfunctional childhoods, this is a foreign concept to us. But we’re also biologically wired to have connections. That includes having a relationship with ourselves.
Even if you only do it today, give yourself a hug. Feel the warmth of your arms wrapped around your shoulders. Say something nice to yourself. Look in the mirror and say, “I love you.”
I need to preface this by saying that accountability is not the same as self-blame. You’re not at fault for what happened to you. This is just about assuming responsibility for where you’re currently at.
If we didn’t have a strong foundation growing up, we’re not taught to take healthy accountability. We may even develop extreme behavioral patterns- an all or nothing mentality. We can hustle and burn the oil at both ends for weeks straight. But then hibernate for another few weeks. Even if we try our best, balance seems to elude us.
That’s ok because we can’t understand what we don’t know. Instead of beating yourself up for not doing things the right way or not knowing better, hold yourself accountable. Set goals, make deadlines, schedule your tasks, etc.
HAVE COMPASSION FOR YOURSELF
Recovery isn’t linear.
Like time, recovery isn’t linear. Some days you feel like you can conquer the world. Some days, you feel like you’re being suffocated by your own mind. Have compassion for yourself, especially when it’s the last thing you can give.
If it were a family member, child, or friend, you would be there for them in their time of need. So be there for yourself because those are the times you need yourself most. You are so worthy of your own love.
How have you been healing your inner child in sobriety? Leave a comment below- you never know who you’ll inspire. And please be sure to share this with anyone who would benefit from this.
I’ll see you soon…in the meantime, love yourself so much that even a Hallmark Christmas movie would be jealous.