How the 4 Stages of an Inner Child Affect an Adult Who May Have Experienced Childhood Trauma
In psychology, an inner child is a person’s childlike aspect. It includes all of what a person learned as a child before puberty — even subconsciously. When you have emotional wounds from your childhood, it can feel like you’re carrying a burden. Here are the various stages of the inner child. Understanding how these stages manifest can help you heal and move past the burden you’re feeling.
Stage 1: Protected/blocked inner child
When you’re in this stage, you’re completely disconnected from your inner child. This means you’re separated from — and likely repressing —the emotional needs, desires, and emotions of this part of yourself.
Your inner child is important because it’s the part of yourself that’s free-spirited and forgiving. It allows you to experience life as a child. If you’re in the blocked stage, then your ego may be telling you that it’s pointless, awkward, or silly to heal your inner child. You may even be critical to the point of bypassing emotional experiences, utilizing sarcasm and cynicism as your coping mechanisms.
Stage 2: Fantasy inner child
This stage is illustrated by someone holding onto “good” and bypassing uncomfortable emotions to maintain a particular narrative. Those with a fantasy inner child often daydream chronically.
If you have this type of inner narrative, you may tend to worship your parents as your “heroes,” and as a result, parental approval unconsciously dominates your life. You may also desire a romantic partner to rescue you, fix you, or keep you safe.
Stage 3: Expressed inner child
If you’re in this stage, you’re well on your way to accepting your inner child. You are both aware and able to witness your inner child when it’s activated. When you’ve reached this stage, you’ve effectively softened your ego, and you’re able to speak to, honor, and validate your inner child when necessary.
If you have an expressed inner child, you’ve started to evolve your thinking as it pertains to others and their inner children as well. Romantic relationships become a space where you can grow, heal, and evolve along with your partner. You may also begin to forgive your parents as they are also human beings with their own wounded inner child.
Stage 4: Integrated inner child
This is another positive expression of the inner child. You are both aware and accepting of your inner child. You have a relaxed ego, which allows you to have clear boundaries, childlike wonder, and little to no projection.
If you do encounter tantrums or negative reactions (from yourself or others), then you view these as a wounded inner child with loving non-judgment.
If you’ve never given your “inner child” a second thought — or even think the notion sounds childish — then perhaps you’re in stage 1. How can you begin to grow towards stages 2 and 3 where your inner child is something you accept and integrate into your life while simultaneously healing from any wounds?
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Is your past infecting your present day? Do you have an inner child who needs to be rescued and healed? Learn more about Derek Clark who is one of the top childhood trauma conference keynote speakers and trainers. Visit here to learn more about his resilient life story and how he became an ACEs and childhood trauma motivational speaker.
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