Do you know what your inner child needs? Are you choosing love or shame for your inner child? Do you know how to recover from emotional trauma in your childhood? Are you curious about the symptoms of childhood trauma in adults? Has it been a lifelong struggle for you to find ways to love yourself? If so, this post is for you.
It’s common knowledge that a child needs unconditional love, acceptance and nurturing. For many people, those are easy to give to a child. Please know that I understand that it may not have been easy for your parents to give you all of those.
If that was the case for you, then your parents probably had huge piles of Not Good Enough Stuff, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you didn’t deserve unconditional love, acceptance and nurturing from them. If you want to read more about Not Good Enough Stuff, click here for an explanation of it.
Table of Contents
What A Child Needs
Now, we know what a child needs, but do you give those same things to your inner child? Probably not. There could be many reasons for that. You might not even be sure exactly what an inner child is or if you have one. If that’s the case, click here to read my post What is Inner Child Work.
Let’s take a look at how ignoring the things your inner child needs that causes problems. In order to do that, we need to look at the symptoms of childhood trauma in adults. There are many different symptoms of childhood trauma in adults. I’ll just focus on a few.
Symptoms of Childhood Trauma in Adults
One of the biggest symptoms I see as a psychotherapist is rejecting love from others. This stems from a false negative belief in childhood that you are not loveable. There are lots of different ways this belief can be created.
In general terms, a child who didn’t receive healthy and unconditional love from his or her parents, falsely learns he or she is not worthy of love. That child may try everything under the sun to receive love from his or her parents to no avail.
That does not mean in any way that the child is not lovable. What it means is that the parents either didn’t get that kind of love from their parents and/or don’t know how to love themselves. If you don’t know how to love yourself unconditionally, it’s hard to do that for others.
So, what does it look like for an adult to reject love? As with everything else I’ve said, there are many different ways this can unfold. The most common way is for an adult choosing not to show others their true soul.
The reason for that is that many adults do not know who they truly are. If you are one of those, I recommend reading my post Two Ways to Answer, “Who am I.” If you don’t know who you are, you probably don’t know ways to love yourself.
Our Inner Child Needs Us to be Our True Selves
We can become a very fake version of a person whom we believe would be loveable. I spent many years doing that and it never worked. All it ever got me was surface level relationships with people who never knew my true soul because I hid it.
Another way I rejected love and see others do the same is dumping all of your “negative stuff” on somebody early on in a relationship, whether that be romantic or friend. Early on in relationships, I would tell a person all of the “terrible” things about me and all of the “awful” things I’d endured.
Also, I would tell them about all of my bad habits to see how they would respond. The subconscious reason I did that was so that I could protect myself when they would leave me. I could then fall back on the saying I’ve heard so many others also say, “They couldn’t handle me.”
The Struggle of Finding Ways to Love Yourself
Making the other person the “bad guy” was a fine art at which I had become a pro. As I began doing my own healing work, I saw that none of them were ever the “bad guy.” In all actuality, there was no “bad guy.”
Simply, there was a hurt inner child who was scared to be her supposedly unlovable self and who didn’t believe there was much good about her. I believed they needed to hear all the reasons they shouldn’t love me because if they really wanted to love me, those things wouldn’t matter.
Think about that. Who wants to fight to love somebody who won’t let herself be loved? Nobody! I learned to let go of the belief that, if somebody really wanted to have a relationship with me, they would fight against my attempts to reject their love.
I had to learn how to be at peace with my childhood trauma and the effects from that, which I carried into adulthood. Learning that my “story” was simply that and that it was not my true soul identity allowed me to show others my true self.
Guess what? When I did that, I learned that I was so easy to love. Now, that required a lot of time and incredibly difficult work. However, it is always worth it. A lot of that work for me was with my inner child and learning to love and accept her.
Symptoms of Childhood Trauma in Adults Can Haunt You
Now, let’s look at some more symptoms of childhood trauma in adults to discover what our inner child needs. Another big symptom is playing small or hiding from the world. Do you do that? If so, what does that look like?
There are lots of possibilities for how playing small or hiding can play out for adults. However, the reason for it is the same. A child needs healthy attention from his or her parents. If a child doesn’t get it, then he or she will develop a false belief that he or she does not deserve it.
These children become adults who play small or hide. Often, I see this being done physically. An adult may gain a lot of weight as a way to physically hide themselves so they don’t get attention and risk rejection.
Another way an adult may do this is to not pursue his or her dreams because they don’t believe they deserve the healthy attention those big dreams might bring. I often see this with very intelligent adults who are working at a job they hate that is well below what they are capable of doing.
As I have mentioned, there are so many symptoms of childhood trauma that I could probably write a million books about them. Instead of that, I will give you the steps for you to learn how to recover from emotional trauma that is affecting you as an adult.
How to Recover from Emotional Trauma for Your Inner Child Needs:
- Make a list of all the “things” you want in life, even if you don’t believe they are possible.
- Analyze your list and write down the reasons you don’t think you deserve each of those. This might be a struggle because on some level you know you deserve them, but childhood emotional trauma can cause you to think that maybe you don’t.
- Examine those reasons and discover ways you deserve what you want, even if you might not believe those yet.
- Write down the behaviors you have that keep you from having those “things.”
- Focus on changing one behavior at a time for however long that may take.
- Continue with each behavior until you are able to change it.
Now, let’s break down each step before you start doing them. When you make a list of all the things you want in life, don’t sell yourself short. If other people deserve those things, you do too!
I’ll use myself as an example for each of these steps to serve as a guide for you to do them too. As I sit here and type this, my soul lights up because I can vividly remember when I thought these things were unattainable for me.
Things I wanted in life:
• A caring, compassionate and loving husband
• My own family with a precious baby
• Good and true friends
• To work for myself
• To create a wellness center in addition to my private practice
• To be able to write and speak for others to hear me and to help the world
Deep Dive into How to Recover from Emotional Trauma
As a young adult, I would’ve laughed at you if you had told me that these dreams, some of which I wasn’t aware of yet, would become my reality. However, as I began doing my own healing work, I was able to see that not only were they all possible, but I also knew I would accomplish them.
Step Two brings me a little sadness when I think about the reasons I didn’t believe I deserved those things. My inner child had sadly learned that I was not good enough to deserve good things. As with most things, our inner children are wrong and need love to be able to see that.
There were so many reasons I did not believe I deserved the life I wanted, which meant that it was unattainable. I was told that I would never find the kind of husband I wanted from many different people and institutions.
As you work through Step Two, you may begin to realize the reasons you don’t believe you deserve good things is because you’re listening to somebody else’s voice. That will never allow you to create the life you want.
That leads us to Step Three. Look at the reasons you feel you deserve all of those “things” you want. If you struggle with this, then think about the reasons that others deserve those good things.
Examples of Why I Deserved the Things I Wanted:
• My own family with a precious baby: Because I can stop the generational trauma in my family
• Good and true friends: Because I am a good and true friend to others
• To work for myself: Because I have worked hard and will excel in the way that works best for me
• To create a wellness center in addition to my private practice: Because I know I have a lot to offer others who live in my area
• To be able to write and speak for others to hear me and to help the world: Because I can inspire others to do their own healing work, which is also healing for me
Now, we are at Step Four. It can be hard to look at the behaviors you are exhibiting to prevent you from having the life you want. As with a lot of the suggestions I give, I can’t tell you what these behaviors are because our Not Good Enough Stuff shows up in so many different ways for each of us.
Instead, I can give you examples of my own behaviors that prevented me from creating the happy, peaceful life I wanted and deserved.
• Dating men who I knew did not want marriage or children
• Dating men who did not share my beliefs or passion for life
• Remaining in friendships with people who were toxic for me
• Working in jobs that drained me and created depression for fear I would fail working for myself if I left
• Procrastinating in doing things that needed to be done to achieve my goals
Do you relate to any of these? What are some of your behaviors that prevent you from creating the life you want? After completing Step Four, you will be ready to move on to Step Five. Please allow yourself plenty of time for this step. Rushing it will result in frustration and you will not stick to the changes you make.
Examples of How I Changed My Behaviors:
I told men when I was on a first or second date that I wanted to get married and have a baby. Most people would think that sounds desperate, but I see it as making sure we had the same life goals. If somebody didn’t want marriage or a family eventually, there was no point in another date.
Talking about my own passions on dates allowed me to see if they shared that with me or had their own passions. Dating that way worked for me as I am happily married with a precious little baby!
What’s the point in dating somebody who doesn’t share the same goals? I did enough of that and it kept me in relationships that never brought me peace. I can say the same for staying in friend relationships in which we didn’t share the same passion for life.
I’m not saying your friends have to have the same passions. What I am saying is that I had friendships with people with a lot of negative energy who did not support my passions. That resulted in a lot of anger and frustration for me.
Creating a Life Full of Ways to Love Yourself
If you have toxic relationships you want to end, read my post 5 Steps to End Toxic Relationships Without an Explanation. Accomplishing my goals requires me to have a lot of support from friends and I think that is important for all of us. So, if you don’t have that, change your behaviors to create it.
Now, working in a job that does not feel good for your soul can cause difficulty in every aspect of your life. Please understand that I know not everybody’s goal is to work for themselves. However, if you are working in a job that makes you miserable, you will not be happy in any aspect of your life.
For those of you who relate to procrastinating like I did, I get it! It is so hard to make a major move to create the life you want. For me, I had to look at how my procrastination was affecting me mentally.
My fear of failing was the root of my procrastination. I had to ask myself if my fear was bigger than the misery I had in that job. After doing that, I realized that my fear would be easier to work through with a good end goal, as opposed to staying in a job that would never get me to the goals I wanted to achieve.
Step Six should be self-explanatory. So, I’ll just remind you to have compassion and patience with yourself as you begin slowly changing your behaviors to create the life you want and deserve.
Now, are you wondering what all this has to do with what an inner child needs? Well, the needs you continue to have as an adult typically come from unmet needs from childhood. So, if you learn how to meet your needs as an adult, you can then begin meeting the needs of your inner child. Isn’t it about time your inner child had his/her needs met?
This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.