Healing Your Inner Child: 15 Steps to Unearthing the Happy, Healthy You Within

heal your inner child
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Explore 15 steps to healing your inner child, reconnecting with your playful side, and embracing the happy, healthy you within!

Have you ever felt like a part of your childhood is still stuck within you? Maybe you struggle with self-doubt, fear of intimacy, or difficulty expressing your emotions. These could be signs of unmet needs from your younger years. Our inner child holds onto experiences, both positive and negative, that shape who we become. Learning the mechanisms behind it – plus how to heal your inner child – is a powerful journey of self-discovery that can significantly transform your life.


  • The inner child is a sub-personality shaped by childhood experiences; as we grow older, it still retains a strong influence on our thoughts and emotions.
  • Childhood wounds like neglect or trauma often leave behind hidden imprints; if left undetected, they may manifest later in life as adult insecurities and self-sabotaging behaviors – which then necessitates that we spend time connecting to the inner child.
  • Though painful, revisiting childhood wounds through self-reflection is essential to fostering self-acceptance and paving the way for healing.
  • Healing your inner child involves a multitude of steps – including (but not limited to) practicing self-compassion, reflection, forgiveness, and engaging in activities to reconnect with your playful side.

What is the Inner Child?

The inner child describes a fundamental aspect of our psyche that is significantly influenced by the experiences we had during our childhood. It’s not simply a forgotten part of the past, but rather a dynamic force that continues to play a role in shaping our thoughts, behaviors, and how we react emotionally even as adults.

Imagine your inner child as a unique mosaic. Each piece represents a formative moment, an emotional experience, or a defining characteristic from your early years. These experiences, both positive and negative, have helped shape who you are today.

The inner child embodies the essence of your younger self. It reflects your innocence, vulnerability, and unbridled imagination. It’s a reminder of the boundless curiosity and openness to the world that is a natural part of childhood.

The inner child is a living part of you, with its own needs and desires. It yearns for your acknowledgment and potentially for healing from any past hurts or traumas. By embracing it, one may reconnect with the positive aspects of their youth, like purity and spontaneity – which will lead to a deeper sense of self-awareness and a greater capacity for emotional fulfillment.

Why Do We Need to Heal the Inner Child?

We all have a younger part of ourselves that was “never quite loved the right way or the way they needed as a child.”

Trish Phillips, Psy.D

Our inner child is very sensitive and easily impacted by both the positive and negative experiences of the early years of life. For many of us, our childhood has been plagued with emotional wounds and unmet needs. These unresolved pains, like abandonment, neglect, or trauma, are part of what causes our inner child to feel insecure, vulnerable, and crave protection.

As a coping mechanism, we might have buried these wounds deep within ourselves, hoping that time would soon heal everything. However, most of the time, these scars remain and silently influence our adult thoughts, behaviors, and emotional reactions. Their impact may manifest as various forms of self-sabotage, including:

  • Low self-esteem: Failure to realize one’s own worth.
  • Volatile relationships: Struggle to maintain healthy relationships due to past hurts.
  • Chronic anxiety: Constant worry due to unresolved emotional issues.
  • Pervasive inner unrest: A lingering sense of unease or dissatisfaction.
  • etc.

As we grow older, even well-meaning interactions can trigger these old wounds, making us feel vulnerable to rejection or criticism. Without acknowledging and addressing them, we risk getting stuck in a cycle of emotional turmoil and self-doubt.

Healing your inner child is more than just self-discovery – it’s an act of self-compassion and empowerment. By gently addressing its needs, we may begin to unravel the layers of pain and reclaim our sense of wholeness and self-worth. This journey allows us to connect with ourselves on a deeper level and build resilience to better face life’s challenges.

heal your inner child

The Importance of Healing Your Inner Child

Being in touch with the joys of childhood can be an excellent way of dealing with challenging times.

Dr. Diana Raab

Past wounds often manifest as negative behaviors in adulthood, like addiction or workaholism – many of which we are not even consciously aware of. To deal with them, we must be willing to acknowledge and address the unmet needs and traumas we experienced in our early lives.

Healing your inner child is about offering yourself compassion and understanding for the vulnerable parts of yourself that were once hurt. The benefits it offers are diverse, including but not limited to:

  • Creating space for your positive qualities (e.g. creativity, curiosity, and love) to flourish.
  • Better understanding of your present behaviors and how they might be linked to past experiences.
  • Developing healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Cultivating stronger, more fulfilling relationships.
  • etc.

It’s worth reminding that healing is not just about yourself – it also contributes to building a more compassionate world. By breaking free from limitations caused by past hurts, you become a more understanding and empathetic person, which lays the foundation for a more positive future.

Read more: Law of Attraction – Tips for Manifesting Abundance & Success

Signs That You Need to Heal Your Inner Child

  • Overreacting: Pay attention to sudden outbursts of anger, sadness, or isolation. These intense emotions might be triggered by seemingly trivial things, but they could actually stem from deep-seated childhood wounds, prompting you to seek comfort and validation in the face of perceived threats.
  • Excessive independence: If you constantly push away help and avoid getting close to others, it could be a defense mechanism to protect yourself from being hurt again. Though you may believe it is meant to shield you against potential harm, such a reaction will cause isolation and difficulty forming healthy relationships.
  • Destructive behaviors: Frequently resorting to unhealthy habits like substance abuse, overspending, or unhealthy eating patterns to numb emotional pain is a sign that your inner child might be seeking comfort in the wrong places. Despite offering temporary fleeting relief, these “coping mechanisms” will ultimately deepen the wounds of your inner child, perpetuating a cycle of self-sabotage.
  • Deteriorating mental health: Persistent feelings of depression, apathy, or a desire for excessive solitude could be signs of underlying emotional issues rooted in childhood. If left unaddressed, these symptoms will escalate and undermine your overall well-being and quality of life.
  • Repetitive patterns in relationships: Do you find yourself falling into the same patterns of avoidance or conflict in your relationships? This could be due to past experiences with attachment that haven’t been resolved. Fear of abandonment or rejection may sabotage intimacy and trust, perpetuating a cycle of relational dysfunction and emotional turmoil.

The Secret to Healing Your Inner Child

When it’s hysterical, it’s historical.

Marshall Goldsmith – ‘What got you here won’t get you there

Most of us are afraid of revisiting our childhood’s painful experiences – we instinctively choose to recoil from the wounds that still fester within us. In our quest to embody maturity and strength, we often bury them beneath layers of denial and repression, hoping that by ignoring them, they will cease to exist. However, the echoes of our past traumas just linger and silently shape our thoughts, behaviors, and emotional responses, hindering our ability to experience true happiness and fulfillment.

The key to healing your inner child lies in creating a sacred space within yourself – a sanctuary where you may get connected to your subconscious mind. This journey inward requires courage and vulnerability, as you peel back the layers of “protective armor” to confront the raw emotions and unmet needs of the past.

Through practices such as mindfulness, self-reflection, and self-questioning, you can delve deep into the recesses of your psyche to unearth the hidden treasures and wounds that lie dormant within. It is in this sacred space of inner silence that you will bear witness to the full spectrum of your emotions, embracing the parts of yourself that society deems unworthy or undesirable.

By forging a deeper connection with your inner world, you cultivate a newfound sense of acceptance and self-love, liberating yourself from the shackles of self-judgment and shame. This process of inner alchemy bridges the gap between the subconscious and conscious mind, illuminating the path toward healing and wholeness.

Let us listen to the needs of our inner child that is being tamed and imprisoned by the rules of a grown-up world.

Erik Pevernagie

15 Steps to Healing Your Inner Child

  1. Acknowledge its existence

The journey to reconnecting with your inner child begins with a willingness to explore and embrace this integral aspect of your psyche. It’s a journey that requires openness and vulnerability – as you confront the shadows of the past.

Reluctance to acknowledge the existence of your inner child presents formidable obstacles on the path to self-discovery and healing. By turning a blind eye to the echoes of the past, we deny ourselves the opportunity to unravel the tangled threads of our emotional landscape, which will just perpetuate a cycle of unresolved pain and discontent.

The most important thing in this step is to focus on revisiting key moments from your childhood – both the moments of joy and those of sorrow and pain. These experiences are real and deserve to be acknowledged. Through continuous reflection and introspection, you may uncover further insights into the origins of your emotional pain and begin the process of healing/ reconciliation.


Let’s say you have a fear of public speaking that seems irrational. You might acknowledge it by saying:

“There’s a part of me that feels scared of public speaking. Maybe it has to do with that time in elementary school when I…”

Here, you’re recognizing the anxious feeling (fear) and opening the door to explore if it might be linked to a childhood experience. You don’t need to have all the answers at this point, just acknowledging the possibility is a form of validation.

In doing so, you open yourself up to understanding the root of the fear. This can be the first step towards addressing it and potentially feeling more comfortable speaking in front of a large audience.

When acknowledging your inner child, it is recommended that you use “I” statements to take ownership of your feelings (e.g. “I feel scared when I have to give a presentation.”). Additionally, remember to treat yourself with kindness and compassion.

  1. Listen to what it has to say

Once you’ve opened the door to reconnecting with your inner child, it’s time to be attentive to the emotions that arise within you (e.g. anger, feelings of abandonment/ rejection, insecurity, guilt, shame, worry, etc.). These feelings often surface in moments of heightened emotional arousal or discomfort, and they serve as poignant reminders of unmet needs/ unresolved wounds from the past.


Let’s say your partner cancels plans last minute due to work commitments. You find yourself feeling a rush of anger, and restoring to behaviors such as stomping into the room and slamming the door in frustration.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Identifying the emotion: You feel hurt and angry.
  • Going deeper: Ask yourself, “Why do I feel so hurt and angry?” Perhaps there’s a fear of being abandoned – or a need for reliability.
  • Connecting to the past: Consider if there were times in your childhood when you felt similarly, like a parent who frequently canceled on you.

By observing your reactions this way, you move beyond just the immediate anger – and realize that it might be connected to a deeper need for dependability linked to a past experience.

  1. Demonstrate self-compassion

At the heart of healing your inner child is the practice of self-compassion – a gentle reminder that you are deserving of love and acceptance, just as you are. Think about the innate need for validation that every kid has (and deserves). To heal your inner child is to extend that same unconditional love and kindness to yourself.

Take a moment to journey back to your childhood – recall the dreams, hopes, and aspirations that fueled your spirit those days. What activities brought you joy? What dreams did you hold dear? What kind of person did you envision yourself becoming?

That child still resides within you, yearning for validation and acceptance. Make a conscious effort to shower them with the love and affirmation they deserve. Reconnect with the essence of your younger self, and embrace their dreams and aspirations with tenderness and compassion.

One simple yet powerful practice is to stand before the mirror each night before bed, gazing into your own eyes, and saying, “I am worthy of love and acceptance.” Allow these words to resonate deep within your soul, nurturing the bond between your present self and your inner child.

Alternatively, you can close your eyes, visualize your younger self, and offer words of kindness and reassurance. Imagine wrapping your arms around them, whispering words of encouragement and love, and reaffirming their inherent worthiness.

Beautify your inner dialogue. Beautify your inner world with love light and compassion. Life will be beautiful.

Amit Ray

  1. Revisit past experiences as an adult

Many people look back on their earlier years with a mix of nostalgia and cringe. Awkward social interactions, academic pressures, and the ever-present quest for independence often leave a trail of confusing memories. However, with the wisdom that comes with adulthood, you may revisit these experiences with a newfound understanding.

For instance, those moments when you felt ostracized by a particular group might not have been a personal rejection, but rather a reflection of the insecurities everyone experiences at that age. Cliques often form as a way for teenagers to feel a sense of belonging. Looking back, you may recognize that their behavior wasn’t a personal attack, but part of a larger social dynamic.

  1. Practice meditation

Meditation offers a space for cultivating self-awareness, mindfulness, and acceptance – a sanctuary where you can bear witness to the full spectrum of your emotions without judgment or restraint. With regular practice, you may cultivate the capacity to embrace both the light and shadow aspects of your being.

Children often struggle to articulate and process uncomfortable emotions, particularly in environments that stifle self-expression or prioritize emotional suppression. In such circumstances, they may internalize or bury their feelings, either to avoid punishment or to garner praise for their perceived self-control. However, as they grow older, repressed emotions will inevitably resurface, often in harmful ways.

Meditation provides a safe and quiet space to reconnect with your inner child and observe those unprocessed feelings without judgment. As you meditate, you might start to feel a wave of sadness. Instead of pushing it away, acknowledge it and ask yourself, “What is this sadness trying to tell me?” Visualize yourself holding your inner child’s hand, whispering words of comfort and acceptance. You can say things like, “It’s okay to feel sad,” or “I’m here for you now.”

  1. Write a diary

Journaling serves as a powerful tool for navigating the complexities of our inner landscape. When approached from the perspective of your inner child, it becomes a profound act of healing that allows you to unearth and release the emotional burdens that have long weighed heavy on your soul.

To embark on this journey of self-exploration, set aside your current self and invite your inner child to speak. Begin by engaging in a brief visualization exercise or revisiting old photographs to reconnect with the emotions and experiences of your past self.

Once you feel grounded in the essence of your inner child, allow your thoughts and feelings to flow freely onto the pages of your diary. Resist the urge to overanalyze or censor your words; instead, just let your soul spill out onto the blank canvas before you. For example, if you find yourself using childish language or drawing pictures instead of writing words, that’s perfectly okay! It’s your inner child’s way of communicating.

By relinquishing control and surrendering to the process, you create space for past wounds to be acknowledged and validated.

Here are some additional tips for journaling:

  • Be present: Before you begin writing, take a few moments to relax and connect with yourself.
  • Start with a prompt: If you’re stuck, use a prompt to get started. For example, try “Dear Inner Child, what makes you feel scared?” or “What is a happy memory you have?”
  • Make use of creative expression: Don’t limit yourself to words. Feel free to draw, doodle, or collage in your diary.
  1. Relive the joys of childhood

As adults, we often lose touch with the playful side of ourselves. Perhaps you once loved playing board games or building forts as a child. Reconnect with those activities! Get together with friends or family for a game night, or build a blanket fort in your living room.

You don’t need elaborate plans or grand gestures to relive childhood joys. Often, it’s the simple things that bring the most happiness. Just recall what you enjoyed as a child. Did you love reading comics under a tree? Splashing in puddles? Making mud pies? Find ways to incorporate these simple pleasures into your life.

Whatever experience you would like to relive, make sure to prioritize those that bring laughter – as it has been proven as a powerful tool for healing. Additionally, be fully present in the moment when engaging in playful activities. Savor the experience and allow yourself to get lost in the joy!

Healing your inner child isn’t just about confronting past pain – it’s also about embracing the inherent innocence that reside within you.

  1. Stay connected to your inner child

Having established a connection with your inner child, it’s essential to nurture this newfound awareness and maintain an ongoing dialogue with the tender aspects of your psyche. Pay attention to the voice within. What are your cravings? Are you feeling burnt out and needing a break? These could be messages from your inner child.

It is recommended that you schedule some regular “inner child time” in the day. This could be anything from reading a favorite childhood book to taking a relaxing bubble bath. When you notice a negative emotion or unhelpful behavior, don’t judge – rather, approach it with kindness and curiosity. Ask yourself, “What is my inner child trying to tell me?” In addition, make sure to take care of yourself physically – by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly – so as to nourish your inner state.


Heal your inner child

  1. Be patient

Patience is a fundamental quality that serves as a guiding light on the journey of self-discovery and personal growth. Just as children require patience as they navigate the complexities of learning and growth, so do we, as adults, benefit from cultivating the same spirit toward ourselves.

Mistakes are an inevitable part of the human experience – a natural byproduct of the learning process. If you find yourself dwelling on past mistakes or feeling disheartened by perceived limitations in your life or career, remind yourself to embrace everything with an open heart and a willingness to learn from each experience.


Perhaps you’re trying to be more playful and creative, yet you feel self-conscious. Instead of judging yourself, acknowledge these feelings and offer your inner child some encouragement. You could say something like, “It’s okay to feel shy, but let’s try this activity anyway. We might have fun!”

Achieving your goals and aspirations often requires time and dedication. Rather than imposing rigid deadlines or unrealistic expectations upon yourself, you need to recognize that transformation occurs gradually, through a series of small steps and incremental progress. For instance, instead of trying to eliminate all negative thoughts from your vocabulary, try celebrating small victories. Did you manage to identify a negative thought pattern? That’s a win!

If you find yourself facing setbacks or obstacles along the way, just trust in your ability to overcome them and adapt to changing circumstances as required!

  1. Make use of positive affirmations

Mike Tyson once shared the secret to his success – which is to practice positive affirmations every day, every time he trains for boxing matches.

Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.

As human beings, we are bound to face setbacks and challenges on the journey toward self-improvement. Rather than succumbing to self-doubt and negativity, cultivate a habit of positive self-talk and affirmation. Instead of berating yourself for mistakes or setbacks, replace negative thoughts with empowering affirmations that reinforce your belief in yourself and your abilities.


Perhaps you tried to learn a new skill to reconnect with your playful side, but you struggled. Your inner critic might say, “See, you’re no good at this!” However, you can silence the inner critic with something like, “It’s okay to make mistakes. I’m learning and growing every day.” Or, “I’m proud of myself for trying something new!”

By consciously choosing to focus on positivity, you rewire your brain for success and resilience.

Additional tips for leveraging the power of affirmations to heal your inner child:

  • Focus on the present: Instead of affirmations about the future (“I will be confident”), use them for the present moment (“I am worthy of love and acceptance”).
  • Personalize your statements: Generic affirmations can be helpful, but those tailored to your specific needs will be even more powerful.
  • Repeat often: Repetition is key! Think of them like mantras – the more you repeat them, the more likely they are to sink in and become a part of your inner dialogue.
  • Focus on feelings: Aside from affirmations about your actions, sometimes you may want to come up with one that deals with how you want to feel. For instance, instead of “I am brave,” try “I feel safe and secure.”

  1. Embrace imperfection

Stop trying to ‘fix’ yourself; you’re NOT broken! You are perfectly imperfect and powerful beyond measure.

Steve Maraboli

The seeds of low self-esteem often find their roots in the lofty expectations and standards imposed upon us during childhood. Many of us can vividly recall moments where our achievements, no matter how remarkable, were overshadowed by the specter of unattainable perfection.

Have you ever been in a situation similar to this? There is a young boy who excels in art class, his drawings bursting with vibrant colors and unique perspectives. Yet, when he proudly shows his work to his older sibling, he is met with a dismissive comment: “That looks like a baby drew it. Look at mine, this is how you shade properly.”

What do you think happens after that?

Surely, such an act of dismissal chips away at the boy’s self-esteem and his motivation to keep creating art.

When we internalize our childhood expectations, we perpetuate a cycle of self-doubt and inadequacy that hinders our ability to fully embrace our potential. Whether we succumb to the relentless pursuit of perfectionism or shy away from taking risks for fear of failure, the consequences are equally debilitating.

To heal your inner child, it is imperative to confront and challenge these deeply ingrained beliefs. Embrace imperfection as a natural and essential aspect of the human experience, and celebrate the beauty and resilience that arise from embracing our flaws and vulnerabilities.

  1. Forgive yourself

We’ve all experienced moments of regret, embarrassment, or frustration over past actions or decisions. Yet, dwelling on these mistakes serves only to perpetuate feelings of shame and self-blame.

The truth is, the past is the past. Not only can it not be changed, but it also makes up who we are today! Every misstep is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. Rather than clinging to regret and self-recrimination, we should learn to practice forgiveness and compassion towards ourselves.

Recognize that you did the best you could have done with the knowledge and resources available to you at the time. Embrace the lessons gleaned from previous experiences, and allow yourself to move forward without the weight of past mistakes dragging you down.


Maybe you did something that hurt someone else as a child. Instead of blaming yourself as an adult, consider the situation from your inner child’s perspective. Were you acting out of anger or hurt yourself? Did you lack the emotional maturity to handle the situation differently?

During the self-reflection process, you may find yourself feeling ashamed about your previous wrongdoings. In that case, comfort yourself by saying, “It’s okay, everyone makes mistakes. You were just a child then. What can we learn from this experience?”

Forgiveness is not about absolving yourself of responsibility – it’s about releasing the burden of guilt and shame that holds you captive to the past. By extending forgiveness to yourself, you become free from the shackles of self-judgment and open the door to healing and transformation.

  1. Self-motivate

Encouragement is something all children crave (and so do adults). Just as kids thrive on words of affirmation and support, so do we benefit from nurturing our inner spirit with positivity and encouragement.

Remind your inner child that they possess the boundless potential to achieve their aspirations. Believe in yourself wholeheartedly, knowing that within you lies the power to turn your dreams into reality.

Trust is the cornerstone of self-motivation – the unwavering belief that you possess the resilience and determination to overcome any obstacle in your path. No matter how many challenges you face, stay committed to your goals, and never lose sight of the incredible potential that lies within you.

Self-motivation also involves setting achievable goals – so as to foster confidence and a sense of accomplishment. For example, instead of a vague goal like “being more creative,” come up with something like “coloring a picture every day” or “taking a short creative writing class”. Techniques such as creating a vision board are extremely helpful for maintaining momentum.

Read more: 12 Stoic Principles to Live by in the Modern Life

  1. Spend time for recreational activities

Play is the language of the soul – a joyful expression of creativity, curiosity, and wonder. No matter how busy you are, make sure to carve out time for activities that excite and inspire you – whether it’s painting, hiking, dancing, or simply spending time in nature.

When you engage in pursuits that align with your passions and interests, you tap into a wellspring of energy and vitality that propels you forward, even in the face of challenges. As such, let go of the notion that recreation is frivolous or indulgent; instead, realize and accept its profound importance in nourishing your mind, body, and spirit.

Watching the wonder of a dewdrop clinging on a tree leaf in the early morning sunlight can give us an ethereal thrill and awaken the elapsed compass of our inner child.

Erik Pevernagie

  1. Seek coaching

Navigating the complexities of past experiences often proves a challenging journey – one that often requires guidance and support along the way. Coaching and mentoring offer a safe and nurturing space for you to explore the inner world and heal your inner child.

Coaches typically possess a unique understanding of how past experiences shape our beliefs, behaviors, and relationships. With their expertise, they should be able to help uncover the root causes of your pain – and develop strategies for cultivating resilience, self-awareness, and emotional well-being.

Seeking support is not a sign of weakness – it’s a courageous step toward reclaiming your power and transforming your life.

Inner Child Quotes

The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.

Jim Henson


The child is in me still and sometimes not so still.

Fred Rogers


She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.

H Raven Rose


Everything seemed possible, when I looked through the eyes of a child. And every once in a while; I remember, I still have the chance to be that wild.

Nikki Rowe


We nurture our creativity when we release our inner child. Let it run and roam free. It will take you on a brighter journey.

Serina Hartwell

heal your inner child

Heal your inner child

Final Thoughts

The scars of childhood trauma often cast a long shadow over our adult lives. However, healing is possible. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to letting go of the past, embracing your true self, and living a life filled with joy, compassion, and authenticity. The process may take quite a bit of time and patience though; that said, just trust your inner strength – knowing that you are deserving of love and acceptance like anyone!

Other resources you might be interested in:

Let’s Tread the Path Together, Shall We?

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