Inner Child Healing Exercises: Validate and Differentiate
The inner child narrative is like a lens through which we see our adult lives and situations, causing distortions of how we see the world and ourselves. Working with your inner child is a deeply healing and restorative practice that helps build new narratives and cognitive patterns. It is part of the path to healing the Mother Wound. Explore the inner child healing exercises below to affirm your inner child that things are different now and to build resilience in adulthood.
Life during a pandemic can trigger strong feelings of helplessness, despair, and feeling alone. Depending on the level of intensity of these emotions, it can trigger the old narratives of our childhood, especially if we experienced trauma as children. (In case you missed it, read more about disentangling your inner child narrative.)
Examples of inner child narratives that can darken and distort our adult perception of current situations may be: “This feels endless. Things will never get better”, “I can never do anything right! What’s wrong with me? I must be bad “, “If I stop worrying, something even worse could happen!”
Do You Have an Inner Child Narrative Operating as an Adult?
If there is an inner child narrative operating and you caught it, great! Anytime we can catch these inner narratives in the moment is a celebration. Because NOW you can shift it and transform it. Every time we do this, we create new neuropathways in the brain which over time, create new possibilities, and new ways of seeing the world that are positive and life-affirming. In other words, we stop perpetuating trauma for ourselves and those around us. Below is a brief practice of inner mothering called “Validate/Differentiate” that you can use to shift the narrative from being trauma-based to reality-based.
Why Inner Child Healing Exercises Are Important for Emotional Health
We can’t fully control the outer world, but unlike childhood, now we have an adult consciousness that can soothe and protect the child within, creating an abiding sense of inner safety. Over time, this becomes the stable, loving backdrop of our lives—whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
Inner Child Healing Exercises
We start with validating the feelings of our inner child. This is always the very first thing to do. Start always with empathy, reassurance, and validation that her feelings are normal, natural, and make total sense given what she’s been through. Don’t skip this or fly through it mechanically. Empathize sincerely and with compassion.
When we validate, we are doing so in the context of the original pain that we went through as children in the past. Make the link back to the original painful situations of your past, and process the feelings about THAT. That is how we digest the past and let it go so we can actually move forward. With consistent practice, you can more skilled at quickly making the link and letting go of a lot of weight you’ve been carrying.
Example of Validating Your Inner Child
“Little Bethany, of course, you would feel terrified right now. Your fear and hypervigilance make TOTAL sense to me. Your fear is normal and natural given what you’ve been through. You were very unprotected and emotionally unsupported when you were little. When you were scared Mom would often reject, withdraw from you or dismiss you. I am with you in this fear. I’m so sorry you had to endure that suffering. You’re not alone anymore. I’m here with you. You’re safe right now.”
The second part, after empathizing and validating her feelings is to differentiate (make the distinction) how NOW is different than the past; that her pain was NOT her fault; and that she is good and whole no matter what. This is to be done in a loving, gentle way. And if possible, provide real examples of how now is different; the more concrete examples the better. (This is how the inner child starts to really take in the fact that she is safe and that the dangers of the past are truly in the past.)
Example of Differentiating For Your Inner Child
“Little Bethany, your fear is not a shameful thing as mom taught you. Her shaming of you for feeling afraid was not OK. I’m here for you now. All your feelings are OK with me. You’ll never be that alone, unprotected and unsupported as you were back then in the past because now I’m here to take care of you. I love supporting and reassuring you. You’re not too much for me. It’s normal to be scared sometimes and I’m happy to soothe and comfort you. No matter what happens in the outside world, I will always keep you safe and protected inside my heart.”
3. Share a Positive Vision
It’s important to end the “ validate/differentiate” dialogue with a positive vision that is inspiring, safe, comforting, and liberating to the inner child. This new vision can be super simple and over time build into a more elaborate, specific vision. After providing this vision to your inner child, you should feel a lift of some kind, a deep breath, a release, a sense of more peace, spaciousness, and calm inside.
Example of Sharing a Positive Vision With Your Inner Child
“As we continue to heal, life is going to continue to get better and better, with more joy and fun! Let’s go outside for a walk in the sunshine and get some fresh air.”
Inner Child Healing Exercises Are Essential to Inner Mothering
This practice of “validate and differentiate” is an essential piece to inner mothering and to creating a new paradigm. Using this practice, with time, can become second nature and quite easy to do.
Triggers need not take hours, days, or weeks to work through anymore. It can get smoother and quicker to process.
That’s why consistency and sincerity are so important in building that inner bond. Don’t take my word for it. I invite you to try it for a while and see for yourself.
The Paradox: Differentiate to Integrate
Love makes the unbearable bearable. It’s a paradox that in order to become fully integrated as conscious adults, we must first become differentiated from the inner child. In order to take our power back from the old narratives of painful experiences and see life clearly, we must work directly with the inner child, giving her the love, support and empathy, and positive vision that we did not experience as kids. As we do, we create an abiding inner safety that allows us to evolve and grow beyond our wildest dreams.
Inner Mothering Leads to Resilient Adulthood—and Joy
We are now living at the intersection of so many daily compounding tragedies and devastations, which can trigger very painful feelings of fear and despair from the past. As adult humans, we cannot ever fully control or predict what will happen, we cannot always prevent painful things from happening. But we CAN provide an inner sanctuary of love and support for the young child within us, affirming that no matter what happens “out there”, she is now safe, loved, supported, protected, and loved, “in here”. This is how we repair, heal, and evolve.
Eventually, all the inner child’s joy, innocence, and vitality become increasingly integrated into your life, enriching and enhancing your life beyond measure.
This is part of how we heal and break cycles of intergenerational pain, moment-by-moment, trigger-by-trigger.
Over time, we keep shedding the layers of painful beliefs and narratives that we adopted in order to survive early painful experiences and discover more and more the radiant true self at our core and experience the joy and freedom of living like that.
If this article resonated with you, I invite you to join me in my online course. In this course, I walk you through a transformative 7-step process that covers the full terrain on how to heal the Mother Wound.
As well as offer you tools, resources and tips that will support you on the entire journey. Each woman who invests in this course also has the option to access a secret, private Facebook group to connect with other women who are also on this journey. In addition, all who purchase the course have access to live Q&A calls with me held twice a month.