CJEA About the Inner Family


We all have a wounded child inside of us. A child once filled with wonder, imagination, creativity and spiritual connection. A child who still holds all of these qualities but who has gone into hiding, deep under ground.

We all have a critical voice inside of us, too. A voice that has memorized all the worst insults and criticism we’ve ever had hurled at us. A voice that turns every trauma we’ve ever endured into a source of shame. A voice that knows our deepest fears and does not hold back from using those fears against us. This voice wants nothing more than to make us feel worthless and unworthy of love, happiness and success.

This Critical Parent is the one who has driven that brilliant light of an Inner Child underground.

But there’s hope! And the hope lies in learning to reparent that Inner Child by awakening the Nurturing Parent and the Protective Parent, who also live within us. They may currently be sleeping on the job. Or they may be turned outward, nurturing and protecting everyone around us, instead of focusing inward and taking care of the Inner Child first.

Often the dynamic interaction between these inner parts (the Inner Child, Critical Parent, Protective Parent and Nurturing Parent) is out of balance and completely beyond our awareness.

But, when we intentionally increase our awareness, putting ourselves consciously into the Director seat, we can develop strong Nurturing and Protective Parent parts, quiet the Critical Parent and heal any childhood hurts and trauma so that the Inner Child can thrive once more.

When we do this, the path to our Heart’s Desire becomes easier to navigate because the passion, creativity and imagination of the Inner Child have been reawakened. We have learned how to silence the abuse of the Critical Parent who is always trying to tell us we will fail. We have strengthened the Nurturing Parent who can now take care of our needs along the way. And we have strengthened the Protective Parent who can create healthy boundaries and keep us safe as we bring our dreams to life.

This new balance and our new awareness and power to direct all the inner parts opens the channel to our Spiritual Parent or Higher Power who can guide us on the path to claiming our Heart’s Desire.


An Inner Family Story through SoulCollage®

Once upon a time, you were an imaginative, creative, spiritually connected little child for whom nothing seemed impossible. You could daydream your way through the day, build giant castles out of blocks, create a rocket ship and travel to the moon with nothing more than an empty box, create whole worlds with dolls and stuffed animals, dress up and become a princess or Superman, have a tea party with an imaginary friend or two, color outside of the lines and make the trees purple and the sky green, stare at the clouds and see dragons or butterflies or angels. You lived from the heart. Your world was magical and unlimited and ALIVE. Nothing was out of reach or impossible. You could be or do anything you could imagine. That amazing child still lives inside you as your Inner Child – but he or she may need rescuing because . . .

Somewhere along the way, a whole bunch of grown-ups – some with the very best of intentions for you, and others who were just plain mean – slowly started to rein you in. They told you to stop daydreaming because you were going to be late for school. At school they told you that trees were supposed to be green and the sky was supposed to be blue and that you had to color inside the lines. They told you that little boys could not be princesses and that little girls could not be astronauts. They said that you were getting too old for imaginary friends and it was time to grow up and grow out of it already. Very often, they made you feel wrong. They told you, or at least implied, that you were dumb or slow or sloppy or wasteful or uncoordinated or fat or ugly or useless or worthless or bad. The more you grew up, the more rules there were to follow – and the less you seemed to measure up. One day all those outer voices became a voice inside your own head – your Critical Parent – constantly criticizing and reminding you that, in every way imaginable You. Just. Weren’t. Good. Enough.

That once vibrant and unfettered child became very frightened by all those voices and messages. But the voices wouldn’t stop and, with endless repetition, the Frightened Child began to believe the things they said. And so, you stopped daydreaming and building castles in the air. You stopped believing you could be or do anything you wanted. Maybe you began to work really hard at being good, doing what was expected of you, conforming and fitting in. Maybe you gave up on your dream of being an astronaut or a ballerina and became an accountant instead, because it was practical and numbers were the only thing you were ever acknowledged for being good at. You settled, and the inner child felt abandoned. As you gave up on your dreams one by one, that inner child stopped creating and imagining those dreams for you. Why bother? You were no longer listening. The child went into hiding, for the most part. And when they did show up, it was mostly in dysfunctional ways like making you cry at work, indulge in addictive behaviors, or blow off important commitments out of fear or boredom.

But one day, with your help and empowerment, your inner child can learn to say, “ENOUGH!” They can regain their voice and, in no uncertain terms, begin to tell the inner critic to Shut. The. Hell. Up. With all the sound and fury of a toddler throwing a tantrum or a teenager asserting their independence, your Inner Brat can emerge in their full glory. It will be freeing. It will be invigorating. They will tell the inner critic how mean and wrong it is. They will refuse to listen any longer to the heartless words with which the critic has been constantly punishing them. They will assert their right to dream and to be and do whatever their heart desires. They will insist that they are worth it. That they deserve it. But, they will not be able to do it all on their own. Because, after all, the inner child IS just a child. They can help you to dream big and get in touch with your true Heart’s Desire. They can keep you in touch with your own imagination, creativity and spiritual connection. But they need YOU to do the doing. And they will need to be protected and nurtured as they inspire you. Because they’ve been hurt and abused for a very long time. Sometimes even by you.

Your inner child needs a protector to keep them safe. Someone to stand up for them like a mama bear protecting her cub. Someone who can say, “No,” when it is necessary. Someone to create strong and safe and practical boundaries. Someone to deal with the bullies (even when that bully is you). Someone who will always look out for the child’s best interests. An ally. An advocate. Your inner child needs a Protective Parent, and they need you to help with developing one. You may never have gotten the kind of protection you needed while you were growing up, but you can give that protection to your inner child now and heal the wounds of the past. Imagine the very best qualities in every kind of protector you can think of – from the animal kingdom to guardian angels to superheroes – and create within you a protective parent that embodies those qualities and whose sole focus is the inner child. Give the child that safety and protection and they will help you to claim your Heart’s Desire.

Your inner child needs to be nurtured. Their fears need soothing, their hurts need mending, their worth needs affirming. They need to be encouraged. They need to be recognized and celebrated. They need to know they are loved, valued and honored unconditionally. They need someone to hold them close. Someone who will let them feel all their feelings. Someone who won’t turn away from their anger or belittle their fear. Someone who doesn’t push them to be someone they’re not and accepts them just as they are. Someone who will only feed them what is truly nourishing, both literally and metaphorically. Someone who sees to it that they get enough sleep, enough fun, enough bubble baths and massages. Your inner child needs a Nurturing Parent and they need you to help with developing one. You may not have grown up with a good nurturing presence in your life, but you can become one for yourself. Imagine a mother holding a baby to her breast, a bird feeding her newly hatched chicks, Mother Teresa tending to the poor and the ill, or Mr. Rogers zipping up his sweater and telling you, “I like you just the way you are.” Create that presence within yourself to nurture your inner child. When your inner child is loved and nurtured, when the wounds of the past begin to fall away, then the little child will lead you to your Heart’s Desire.