STRESS & your inner child

Photograph by VladoWhen we are stressed our buttons get pushed more easily and we find ourselves reacting in a way we normally wouldn’t. Present day interactions can trigger childhood memories which might have been so painful we are no longer consciously aware of them. Instead of being able to act our age and respond from a mature adult perspective, a young (child) part gets activated together with its associated emotions and defensive reactions.

For example you might feel put down by a work colleague and you respond either more defensively than you want or “freeze” and say nothing. When an adult reacts like that it is likely that a young part has been triggered. It means that an upsetting event can cause you to experience the world through the eyes of a sad, angry, or fearful child who feels that her/his needs haven’t been met.

So maybe the real problem has not so much to do with your colleague but that their behaviour is triggering some unresolved childhood issue?

When you find yourself becoming upset, you may want to get to the source of your stress. Ask yourself the following questions to identify whether your reaction belongs to an earlier pattern rooted in childhood:

  • “Who or what from childhood does this situation remind me of?”
  • “By whom or what did I feel put down/upset/challenged as a child?”

If you have identified the cause to be a childhood issue there are probably some unmet needs at the core:

  • “What needs haven’t been met for you as a child back then?”
  • “Was it attention, connection, validation, protection, guidance, clear boundaries or information about the world?”
  • “Does the child part need support to work through emotions, like fear, anger, and/or grief, which you could not process at that time?”
  • “What messages does your “inner child” need to hear?”

How to heal those childhood wounds?

  • Learn to form a positive relationship with your inner child, which can be supported through relaxation, play, journalling, drawing and/or sculpting.
  • Give nurturing messages to your inner child to meet the needs that haven’t been met in your childhood.
  • Be a compassionate, caring parent for yourself.
  • Take the time to check in with yourself on a regular basis.
  • Tap into your own playfulness.

Of course this takes time so be patient with yourself!

About Mensch - Connecting Mind Body Breath

I am committed to provide empowering information, to help you cope with painful emotions and support you towards personal growth and development. I combine my PhD in Psychology with 15 years of practical experience in counselling across clinical, corporate and community settings. Contact me on 0426 558 562 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation to talk about your needs or write me a quick email at
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