When we invite these lost inner children back into our lives, we have to be ready for them to express a lot of distress. But what do we do then?
How Do We Soothe the Inner Child?First of all, it is a process and it won’t get done all at once. You need to learn how to parent your own particular inner children. They will teach you what they need as time goes on. You will have to be just as patient as if you had adopted a real child with a troubled background.
Second, you need to take those feelings extremely seriously. “Soothing” the child does not mean saying, “There, there, dear. It’s OK. Stop crying.” You may have heard voices like that in your past, but your job is to be a different kind of parent, one who really listens to the child’s feelings. The first part of soothing is to hear the feelings. The child might not be able to tell you why she or he feels sad or angry or scared. Your job is to pay attention to the feelings.
If you can, find a safe a quiet place where you can literally sit down and listen. Let the feelings emerge. Accept all of them, even though it is painful. If you can’t bear all of it at once, tell the child that you will listen for ten minutes, or five, or two minutes. Then promise the child to make another time later to listen some more.
As the feelings emerge, focus on loving the child who is entrusting you with these valuable and vulnerable emotions. Tell the child that you are proud of her or him for coming forth. Sometimes you may feel completely overwhelmed and inside the feelings, like your are being the child. That’s OK. If you can manage to stay in that place, try to do so. See if you can detect any shift where you might feel a little more like a grownup holding the child.
Here’s Where the Soothing Comes In:
- Value all those difficult feelings and validate them.
- Let your body express the love you have for this child by holding a pillow or stuffed animal, rocking, humming, stroking, doing anything you’d do to comfort an actual child.
- Trust your instincts on this. Let the child tell you what feels good to her or him.
- Don’t let any critical voices tell you that it’s silly to rock and hum a lullaby. It’s not silly—it is valuable practice in loving yourself.
Over time you will learn to be the caring parent that this child never had. You will share your future with the wonderful, free, and loving spirit that is your inner child.