Reparenting Yourself: How to Heal Your Inner Child
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Did you know that your present beliefs and behaviors could be a repercussion of the inadequate parenting you received as a child? If you experienced a traumatic youth or simply didn’t receive the love and attention you needed, then you could end up dealing with a troubled adulthood. We don’t often think about the consequences of our upbringing, but the facts of our lives can speak volumes of behalf of our wounded child within.
Growing up without love isn’t the only reason to reparent yourself though. If you had a strong upbringing with loving parents but still feel like they could have done more, then this is for you. Nobody should live with a lack of love or purpose, even if those things have to come from within.
What does it mean to reparent yourself?
The lack of productive, supportive, positive parents can lead to some major issues for any adult. Sadly, those issues aren’t always linked to childhood experiences at first. That’s mainly because people tend to blame themselves for what their parents mismanaged. We often internalize our woes about the things we cannot do (or “think” we cannot do, rather). However, every habit and belief you have today reflects the girl you once were.
Therefore, reparenting yourself is the most practical way to fix personality issues, resolve trauma, and practice new habits. It provides the chance to do for yourself what your parents could not or would not do. Upon closer inspection, reparenting is merely the act of erasing bad examples and replacing them with better ones.
Lack of parenting in childhood
The fact of the matter is that many adulthood issues can be linked to what’s commonly called a “love deficit” during the formative years. Some parents neglect to show affection at key times in their child’s life, thereby causing the child to question his or her self-worth. Lacking familial structures can also impact a child negatively, especially in terms of how they view their position in the world as an adult.
Examples of issues that can develop in adulthood due to a lack of parenting in childhood are as follows:
• Detached feelings around other people
• Recurring toxic relationships
• Self-sabotaging behaviors
• Feeling unworthy of love and happiness
• Frequently feeling overwhelmed
• Failure to thrive in business or personal affairs
• Nagging negative thoughts and/or emotions
"Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you - all of the expectations, all of the beliefs - and becoming who you are."
- Rachel Naomi Remen
10 Ways to Reparent Your Wounded Inner Child
You can apply these 10 principles when reparenting yourself to heal old wounds and start to flourish as an adult.
1. Stop blaming yourself
You’re not alone in blaming yourself for all the things you can’t do or struggle to achieve. You were a blank slate when you were born, so this canvas you are today is a result of the paint used to form your personality. It’s easy to point fingers when things go wrong, but that seldom changes anything. In fact, blaming yourself is as harmful as the bad parenting you endured as a child.
Self-blame and guilt are counterproductive. If they’re left to their own devices, they will consume you. Culpability fosters doubt, which in turn promotes fear. It creates a snowball effect that makes you sink deeper into a depressive state. So, stop putting the blame where it doesn’t belong and start focusing on how to make your life better instead.
2. Show yourself some compassion and understanding
Compassion is caring about others and behaving toward them with affection, generosity, and concern. But when it comes to personal matters, we don’t always display the same empathy. We tend to be more critical of ourselves.
Start showing yourself more patience and compassion by learning how to forgive and forget. After all, holding onto those negative feelings prevents healing, closure, and relief. You cannot change how you felt about a situation or event from the past, but you can change how you feel about it and react to it today. So, free yourself from psychological punishment and give yourself the chance to feel okay.
“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
3. Embrace your feelings
Pushing your feelings to the side is pointless and painful. That means it can be extremely hard to sit face-to-face with the agonizing pains of your past. However, that’s something that you’ll have to encounter sooner or later. If you embrace your feelings sooner, you’ll enjoy a better quality of life in the future. If you ignore how you feel today, then you could miss out on exciting opportunities for love, happiness, and growth.
We don’t always get to see how our emotions impact the world around us. Truth be told, genuine internal contentment breeds genuine external greatness. The Universe has its own way of interacting with you, your negative emotions, and other people. Therefore, ignored feelings and thoughts can attract unnecessary hardships. By accepting how you really feel and using techniques to deal with those feelings, you can let go of negativity and open yourself up to accept positivity.
4. Accept who you are
There’s no such thing as a flawless human being. We all have issues, but the problem is that some people refuse to accept that about themselves. Unless they can feel or can be seen as perfect, they will continue to feel less than worthy of love. Usually, the desire to be flawless comes from the fear of rejection and that generally starts in childhood.
The only person who needs to accept who you are is you. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from being true to yourself because if you don’t accept “you” then who will? It may be scary at first, but wouldn’t you rather be surrounded by people who voluntarily choose you regardless of your flaws?
5. Learn how to give and receive love
It’s normal to feel unworthy of love and affection when you have unhealed wounds from the past. You might have trouble keeping long-term relationships or you might allow certain behaviors that are toxic and one-sided. Creating and maintaining boundaries is also hard for a wounded inner child because they typically have no frame of reference for a happy, healthy, productive relationship.
How can someone know what love is when they’ve never experienced it before? That’s why setting limits and demanding more is so vital. In essence, you should know what love is and what a healthy connection looks like. So, learning how to give and receive it is important. You should never settle for a relationship that requires you to give more than you receive.
6. Practice loving self-care
When we are in the depths of despair, taking care of ourselves in the least of our concerns. However, did you know that self-care should be your priority in times like this? Our minds and bodies need pampered so they can face challenges with confidence and motivation.
If you don’t give yourself adequate time to heal, then you could end up facing even more problems in the end. As troubles add up, so too does your inability to cope. After a while, the stress can lead to mental, emotional, and/or physical health problems such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. So, spend a moment taking care of yourself and see how much more resilient you get.
Need ideas for self-care? Visit the wellbeing section of the website!
7. Surround yourself with supportive people
The people you spend time with matter. They serve as your anchor to the real world - a source that can help you stay grounded, motivated, and accountable. So, when you’re surrounded by negative people, you take on their counterproductive traits and begin doubting yourself. That, in turn, often brings out the wounded child within.
But when you surround yourself with positive, supportive individuals, you absorb their uplifting energies and start to heal those childhood wounds. You provide yourself with the kind of support that was needed when you were growing up. Meanwhile, you avoid toxic people that bring you down - acting as a sort of chaperone in the same way your parents could/should/would have.
8. Embrace your true identity
Internal childhood wounds often blur the vision we have of ourselves, making it difficult for us to see why other people love us. In fact, it’s quite common for someone with past trauma or neglect to feel insecure or stuck in life. Their lack of ambitious influences and confidence prevents them from living a successful existence. Thus, they’re confused about their true identity and struggle to define it.
When you let go of the pain from your past, or if you attempt to heal the wounds created by it, you regain some of your identity. Over time, you begin to feel more secure in your environment and start to realize certain traits about yourself that were once covered by trauma. Thus, reparenting yourself means creating a new narrative that puts your mental and emotional wellbeing at centerstage.
9. Give yourself structure
A happy life equals a life with adequate self-control. There may have been a lack of structure in your childhood home, but that doesn’t mean it has to continue into your adulthood. There may have even been too much structure in your childhood home. The point is that ineffective parenting structures can be just as damaging as having no structure at all.
Arranging your life in a specific way helps you set goals and achieve them in a timely, efficient, and healthy manner. It also gives you space to consider different possibilities and be somewhat spontaneous in your everyday life. And by setting productive boundaries and practicing self-discipline, you can finally hope for a brighter future that’s no longer defined by your past.
10. Seek guidance
Even though there are many ways to heal emotional wounds by yourself, there are deeper wounds that might be harder to heal without help. It’s perfectly normal to ask for guidance. In fact, it’s one of the most loving things you can do while reparenting your wounded inner child. After all, that child has been neglected and ignored enough.
A professional or friend can assist in many ways because of their external, objective perspectives. You can use their insights to overcome pain or search for light at the end of the tunnel together. Never be embarrassed about your past; it wasn’t your fault. You shouldn’t be paying the consequences of bad parenting, especially since you deserve so much more.
"It has been said that time heals all wounds. The truth is that time does not heal anything. It merely passes. It is what we do during the passing of time that helps or hinders the healing process."
- Jay Marshall
Pain from the past can stay with someone forever. Unfortunately, too many people blame themselves for what they went through as a child. They ask, “Did I do something wrong,” or “Could I have done better” on an incessant loop in their minds. People need something or someone to blame when life goes wrong.
Our childhood wounds don’t have to eat us alive. We can become the best version of ourselves no matter who or where we are. After all, life is a journey of discovery. So, don’t let old wounds prevent you from uncovering parts of yourself that haven’t had a chance to shine yet.