Whenever our inner child surfaces, we are told by society to grow up, throwing aside or killing childish things like innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity, and playfulness.
Most grown-ups don't realize that they are not grown-ups at all, but emotionally wounded children inhabiting adult bodies. And a wounded inner child is the root cause of bad relationships, bad career, and of the persistent negative emotions of fear, anxiety, insecurity, and inferiority.
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According to Sigmund Freud, mental disorders and destructive behavior patterns are more or less related to our inner child, which most of us fail to see directly.
Our inner child needs to be acknowledged, accepted, nurtured and loved, instead of being denied, neglected, abandoned and rejected.
Being young is being curious. And most people become cynical and overly critical towards life as they grow older, and only a select few retain the wonder, innocence and joy of a child.
An adult's life consists of optimizing life using knowledge, mental models and practical shortcuts, a race towards better efficiency in everything. We stop asking the right questions, like the most common question a child asks: Why?
When we are sick in our minds, we have this punishing sense of how terrible we are, even if we often can't point to a specific crime. We are appalled by, and unforgiving of, who we are.
In this situation, a loving companion can make all the difference. They don't try to persuade us of our worth. They make pleasant conversation about something that won't make us anxious. They can tolerate how ill we are and will stick by us. They love us for who we are rather than what we do.
Since you had to grow up too early too soon, you might be trained to become hyper-independent. You are incredibly self-reliant that it may feel impossible to be vulnerable or seek help from others.
Being highly self-reliant was your only option in a household with only emotionally vulnerable adults, but it is a strategy that no longer works for you. Challenging yourself to connect with others is the most potent ways to heal.