Treating Your Inner Child - Mental and Emotional Self-Care

The Witch's Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit - Arin Murphy-Hiscock 2018

Treating Your Inner Child
Mental and Emotional Self-Care

A term you may know is inner child, which describes the childlike aspect of an individual’s identity, a semiautonomous part of your character subordinate to the waking conscious mind. Carl Jung perceived it as the child archetype, a link to a person’s past self, childhood experiences, and emotion, part of the foundation of an individual’s adult developed self. Popular psychology associates potential, creativity, and expression with the inner child.

As adults, sometimes we’re drawn to toys or fun stuff that we certainly don’t need on a practical level but that we want anyhow. We often deny ourselves indulging in this sort of fun because money has more important places to go, or because we’re grown up and we don’t need stupid stuff like that. And yet…we still wish.

The inner-child concept can help you explore the idea of self-care. For example, we are often very hard on ourselves, using negative self-talk or setting ridiculously high standards that we wouldn’t apply to friends or children. If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk (This is ridiculous; I’m so stupid; I’ll never get this right), pause and ask yourself if you would say that to a child or allow a child to say it without offering him or her emotional support. Self-care is nurturing yourself on a daily basis. If you think of the simple wants and needs of a child, perhaps doing so can give you a different perception of the kind of self-care you need.

Many sorts of little things can delight a child: a surprise ice-cream outing for no specific reason; a new pack of markers; putting shiny stickers on calendar squares when counting down to an event; going for a walk in the rain and dropping leaves into storm runoff. They may not be what your particular inner child wants or needs, but allow yourself the opportunity to think about what your inner child might enjoy. And remember to always parent your inner child with love and respect.

Comfort Objects

Did you have a beloved stuffed animal or blanket as a child, one that got battered and worn but you still carried it everywhere you could? Comfort objects like this help you transition from known situations to unknown ones by giving you a sense of continuity and of being cared for.

As adults we sometimes intentionally deprive ourselves of comfort in an odd attempt to prove that we don’t need it. Using childhood comfort objects can signal nurturing to your inner child.

As an adult, there’s nothing wrong with having a special object like a doll or stuffed animal that makes you feel happy or comforted when you see it. Don’t go overboard—Do you really have room for an entire set of collectibles or a line of action figures?—but if there’s something you want that would bring you comfort, this is the opportunity to indulge. Bonus points if you can snuggle it during self-care breaks or place it where you can see it often so it will make you smile.