The injured child It’s a term we hear more often lately, it’s also called inner child or emotional wounds.
You’ve probably heard of this concept before. Here I want to talk more about what it is and why it is so important for everyone to address this issue at some point in their life.
The emergence of the wounded child
The wounded child is above all a metaphor for our negative childhood experiences.. You can remember your childhood and teenage years as a time when you still didn’t understand a lot of the things that were going on around you.
Why do mom and dad fight so much? Why don’t mom and dad live together? What should I do when mom cries or screams? How do I get them to see my efforts? Why does my dad never smile at me, what am I doing wrong?
These can be exemplary questions asked daily to a school-aged child, faced with the situations he observes at home. What many people don’t know about this age is that children, unconsciously, also answer these questions and often give explanations; several times, taking responsibility for it.
That is, they always think the problems are related to something they’re doing wrong, or they think they should do something to improve the situation.
Then, when asked, “Why doesn’t daddy live with us?” the child may respond, “Dad has more important things to do, and I’m not important enough to take up too much of his time.” Or, when mom and dad place a lot of importance on academic performance and the child asks “how can I be seen by mom and dad?”, then that question is answered by subconsciously saying something like always show good grades to receive love”.
The questions that are asked by the majority of children attempt to ensure their bond with the parents. (or primary care numbers). It is vital for a child to know that mom and dad are close and that they receive and accept him, as this guarantees his survival.
It’s an instinctual need that all of us humans have early in life to ensure our survival, and that as children we do this by ensuring that our caregivers are close by. Each child will seek their own strategies and follow their own children’s logic to do so. But with this logic he can go against himself, be very severe with himself for example, and thus leave wounds.
The Wounded Child’s Constructed Beliefs
You also built beliefs in your childhood, beliefs about yourself (I am good, bad, restless, stupid…), about others (mom gets angry, you have to take care of dad’s health), about relationships (when I talk it bothers them a lot, you have to make them laugh…), about the world (there are a lot of dangers out there) and about the future (the future is uncertain, I have to secure my future) .
These beliefs or logics gave you a very important guideand you thought that if you follow these “rules” and act according to them, you will be safe and you will receive love and acceptance.
Each child has had different experiences and based on their experiences has constructed their own beliefs and established a concept about themselves, others and the world. Next, the injured child represents the negative beliefs and self-image that you built as a child. These are your wounds as they represent negative beliefs about yourself and your fearsas:
- I don’t do enough.
- I am insufficient.
- I’m worth nothing.
- I am ugly. I am too fat or too thin
- I am a burden, I am not wanted.
- There’s nothing I can do.
- I can’t trust anyone.
- It’s my fault.
- I must be calm, I must be obedient.
- The world is unfair.
How the child is convinced of these beliefs and thoughts they threaten their safety to receive love and protectiondoes everything possible to fight it.
For example, if you fear being a burden or a burden on your parents, do your best not to be a burden: don’t talk about your problems, don’t demand anything for yourself, try to be the as light as possible for your parents and then also for other people.
Why does your injured child appear in your adult life?
Now, why is it relevant for you, that you are probably already an adult, today you understand much more about the world and you can give more precise explanations about the issues around you?
You think that when you come of age and you have fate in your hands, you stop being a child and it’s not worth thinking too much about the past, because what’s done, is done and cannot be changed.
However, childhood left its mark, and the past is not so easily buried. From the moment you start your life, you start writing stories and the beliefs you learned about yourself as a child, you also carry them into adult life, because they also worked for you in many ways.
If we take the example of a child who grew up with mom and dad, both very busy (not badly, but obviously out of necessity) and this child learned that “he shouldn’t bother “, that we had to let mom and dad do their job, because the family needs are more important than the personal needs of the child.
Along the way, this child learns to obey, not to ask or to ask with great suspicion, to do everything by himself and take care not to be a burden for his parents. Beliefs he develops about himself might be: I shouldn’t bother, I’m not that important, my needs don’t matter, I better do what they tell me so no one bothers me.
These beliefs are maintained in adult life and are reflected in their relationships, their work and their posture to face the challenges of life, always under the motto: I should not bother, I better be told, etc. .
Maybe another child in the same situation gets angry, angry, does lots of tricks to get mom and dad’s attention (here it depends a lot on each child’s temperament) and when he doesn’t get demanded attention or ends up being reprimanded, he ends up with beliefs like, “I’m not important, I’m always last, my voice doesn’t count, they don’t want me.”
This child, as an adult you will probably develop a great deal of sensitivity to similar situations. Let’s say his girlfriend forgot to buy him his favorite potatoes, even though we asked her. For most people it wouldn’t be a drama, but for this person it resonates with what happened to mom and dad and the frustration of not being seen and heard infuriates them.
Then, as an adult, you have trigger situations, which relate you directly to childhood situations, when you were very scared, sad, angry, and helpless. When you are “triggered” you no longer react from your adult self, if you don’t respond like when you were a child and were scared, you get defensive and do what served as a child to you protect from the subject, etc.).
You usually recognize your triggers because they are overreactions to situations that aren’t worth itor because you are stuck in a subject, which seen from the outside does not seem so complicated.
What should you do with your injured child?
Once you identify your childhood wounds (and professional help may be needed here), it will allow you to deal with them differently.
First, It’s good to talk to your hurt child, treat him from your adult self like a compassionate parent. In other words, explain (explain yourself) that the things that happened before were not as good as you think.
Returning to the child example, as an adult, one could explain that: although mom and dad worked hard, that does not mean that he always had to be silent, but that it would have been better if mom and dad had paid more attention and that he had the right to demand that attention and that he also has that right now that he is an adult. You don’t have to be afraid of being a nuisance anymore, and it will be hard to keep everyone comfortable at all times, so you don’t have to worry about that as much.
In a second moment, Knowing the wounds of your inner child helps you catch up in your moments of vulnerabilityi.e. those times when you “overdo it”, lose control or block yourself, as if you were still a child.
It takes a bit of practice and you’ll give up on the count first, only after it’s gone. Maybe the next day, after a fight, you don’t even understand how it happened and then you recognize that at that moment your injured child was there in action, defending himself from the fear of being rejected. or to feel abandoned or trapped. Over time, this becomes more apparent and you manage to better prevent these moments. It’s a bit like when you’re in a 3D movie and you take off your glasses to realize that you’re just watching a movie, it’s a lot of getting out of the territory (from which you feel a lot of anguish) to see the map from where the outside and understand that there is nothing to fear.
The most important thing for your inner child is to be cared for with love and compassion.. A child is never guilty, he always requires the responsible accompaniment of an adult and you will also learn to accompany your inner child from your adult self, with compassion and benevolence, so that he can heal his wounds.
We are accustomed to being constantly judged on our mistakes, and we generally control and monitor our behavior so that it conforms to the demands of the world in which we live. Self-criticism gives us the security to stay in control and always be vigilant. It works well enough to achieve professional and academic goals, especially if we use positive or negative reinforcements such as rewards and punishments, for example, “I have reached a goal: as a reward, I allow myself to eat a cake chocolate”, “I haven’t reached a goal: as punishment I talk to myself all week”, “forces me to work harder, I don’t allow myself to rest”).
The same time this monitoring dynamic means that we are always focused on external achievements, which predispose our personal value. Only if you are doing “the right thing” do you deserve love and acceptance, then you are very conditioned and/or dependent on your performance and how it is recognized. In the long term, this causes a lot of anxiety, can lead to depression, increased irritability, sleep disturbances and all those symptoms that can already be called civilizational mental illnesses, because almost everyone perceives them to some degree in his daily life.
Bringing a new voice into your life, being more compassionate and understanding with yourself and others, reduces anxiety and boosts self-esteem. It is then about being a compassionate mother or father to your inner child and eventually becoming more of your own friend rather than your own worst enemy.