After you have suffered from narcissistic abuse, you need to process and heal, particularly that little you — your inner child — for whom trauma is so damaging. We all have an inner child who remembers the trauma of our early years and who needs to feel supported and loved. There is no one better than you who can provide that sensitive little you with the acceptance and love you have always deserved.
As inner child work practitioner, Gerda K, notes, “Doing inner child work helps you go into your subconscious and change these painful memories that created the splits…permanently. If the trauma is resolved, there’s nothing that can be projected outwards anymore.”
Here are 9 tips that really help you heal your inner child from narcissistic abuse:
- Acknowledge Your Inner Child
- Listen to Your Inner Child
- Accept Your Inner Child
- Understand Your Inner Child
- Comfort Your Inner Child
- Protect Your Inner Child
- Give Your Inner Child a Voice
- Accept Your Shadow
- Play with Your Inner Child
It’s important to examine each of these more thoroughly to see how you can use these techniques to help you heal and recover from the traumatic effects of narcissistic abuse. Healing your inner child is a critical part of recovering from narcissistic abuse. Let’s get into it.
1. Acknowledge Your Inner Child
When we grow up, we tend to think that we have to leave behind our child-like self and be responsible adults. But one of the most healing things you can do is to acknowledge the existence of your wounded child. People who have suffered narcissistic abuse in their childhood often never had a chance to be children, and consequently, they have pushed their inner child aside.
Your inner child is the little you that holds onto all of those things that happened in your childhood that caused trauma or pain and were never resolved. For children of narcissists, their inner child is holding on to a lot of abuse. By simply acknowledging your inner child’s existence, you can make great strides toward healing those old wounds.
One way to acknowledge your inner child is to pay attention to times when you feel triggered by a situation or something someone said. Stop and ask yourself why you feel triggered. What is the core belief that you’ve adopted that you feel someone is pointing out with their words or actions?
For example, perhaps you feel as though someone thinks you’re lazy. If you know you’re not lazy or have no problem with being lazy, this wouldn’t bother you. But if you had a narcissistic mother who constantly called you lazy, even if you know you’re not, you might still have adopted a core belief that you are because of that emotional abuse. By acknowledging that, you begin to ‘see’ your inner child.
2. Listen to Your Inner Child
The next step in healing your inner child is to listen to that child’s fears. Once you understand the core belief you’ve adopted about yourself, try to remember the first time you might have adopted that belief. Drawing on the example in the previous point, when was the first time you remember being told you were lazy?
If you can remember the first time you got that message, you can then view the incident from your adult perspective. Were you being lazy? Even if you were, does that mean you’re a lazy person? Could you have just been tired that day? What did you feel about yourself when you were told that you were lazy?
Once you can remember what that little you was feeling when you first adopted that core belief about yourself, you can now see your inner child and better understand their fears. You can also understand the unskillful manner in which the loved ones in that child’s life might have acted. Perhaps you were abused by a narcissistic parent, someone with their own mental problems and fragile self-esteem. That doesn’t make it acceptable, but it makes it more understandable.
3. Accept Your Inner Child
After you have seen and heard your inner child, you need to accept them with all their fears and their unskillful coping mechanisms. When you see that little you feeling fearful and hurt and the situation that caused your pain, you can now accept and understand why your inner child adopted the core beliefs they did and is triggered by similar situations.
Envision yourself as a child, maybe sitting fearfully in a corner or crying after having experienced narcissistic rage. this is your opportunity to accept that little you. This is also an opportunity to accept the valid emotions your inner child was and is feeling.
Acceptance is one of the best ways to begin healing that old trauma. Your childhood was what it was, and nothing will ever change that. You might have had one or two narcissistic parents, and that won’t ever be any different. By accepting the fears they created in your inner child and the mechanisms that little you had to adopt to survive, you begin the journey of healing.
4. Understand Your Inner Child
This is where you want to put yourself in your inner child’s place. Do you remember what it felt like to be told you were lazy? Do you remember feeling shame or as if you had disappointed your narcissistic parent? Do you remember how that made you feel about yourself?
Once you can understand your inner child’s fears and emotions, you can validate those feelings. Understanding is a vital step in healing those old wounds. With understanding comes compassion.
5. Comfort Your Inner Child
When you understand your inner child’s fears and emotions, you can now do what the adult in your life should have done all those years ago and comfort that little you. Envision yourself hugging your inner child and telling that little, frightened you that it’s all right. Let them know that anyone would feel like they are feeling in that situation.
You can also let them know that the adults who caused their pain had mental problems and couldn’t give them the love that every child deserves. It wasn’t their fault. They (you) didn’t do anything wrong. When you comfort your inner child, you create a safe place to express those long-suppressed feelings.
6. Protect Your Inner Child
As you comfort your inner child, you can also assure that little you that you will always be there to take care of yourself. You have got your own back, and you will never again abandon yourself. You can offer that little you the assurance they never got from their narcissistic parents.
You can also assure the little you that you will protect them from future harm, and this includes from any narcissists who might be in your life today. This is your opportunity to be your own hero and to save yourself from any further abuse.
7. Give Your Inner Child a Voice
It’s very helpful in the healing process to give your inner child a voice. One of the best ways to do this is through meditation and journaling. Meditation can help you quiet your mind so that you can better focus on your inner child and those past wounds.
Journaling is another technique that can help you tap into the feelings your inner child has and process them. You can focus on specific incidents you identified through meditation and then write down your feelings and fears associated with those events. This is a way you can let your inner child scream or cry or vent any feelings they never got to process at the time.
8. Accept Your Shadow
Your shadow self are those parts of yourself that you don’t really like. For children of narcissistic parents, they often come to dislike feeling as though they are being selfish. Their narcissistic parent was really the selfish one, but most narcissists project their own feelings of inadequacy onto the ones they love.
Those shadow parts of yourself aren’t your enemies. In fact, they often bring gifts that help you protect yourself or grow. For example, that selfish part of you is what helps you get the things you need in your life. Your narcissistic mother or father might have made you feel like you don’t have any valid needs, but you do, and that selfish shadow you doesn’t make you a narcissist, it helps you get what you need.
When you can accept even the most disappointing sides of yourself as parts of you that bring you gifts to help you survive and grow, you can truly accept your inner child and all the other parts of you that make you unique. This is one of the most healthy things you can do in your life, and it is a great way to heal from narcissistic abuse.
9. Play with Your Inner Child
Once you have accepted your inner child and healed many of those old wounds, you want to play with them. Many children of narcissistic parents didn’t get much play time. Now that you’ve healed much of that abuse, let your inner child play. Play like you should have when you were a child.
Recapturing that carefree attitude that so many children have will truly free you from the darkness that narcissistic abuse brings into your life.
One of the best ways to heal yourself from narcissistic abuse is through inner child work. By going back to those painful childhood moments, you can see that you were simply a child doing the best you could to survive an abusive situation.
But those days are gone, and you can now become the parent for your inner child that your parents should have been. You can give yourself the love, support, and protection that they couldn’t, and in doing so, you can truly free yourself from narcissistic abuse.
Now that you know more about healing those childhood wounds, it’s also important to understand what narcissistic parents are like. For those affected by narcissistic abuse, it’s critical to the healing process to understand better why it happened.
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