I was recently sorting through some old family photos to make up a picture book for my mum. I came across a few photos of myself as a young child and it got me thinking. I looked myself in the eye and realised what a sad little girl I looked in many of the pictures. I just wanted to give her a big hug and tell her everything will be okay.
Over the years, I know I haven’t always been particularly kind to myself. My inner critic used to run wild and it’s taken a lot of work to learn to be kind and compassionate to myself. Looking at the photos made me realise I’d finally started to talk to myself in the way I would my younger self.
If you struggle with being kind to yourself. Your inner voice is demanding, critical, judgemental and generally not nice, try talking to your inner child and see how it changes. This is a great opportunity to develop your compassionate self-talk and an amazing inner coach.
Talking to your inner child
Imagine you’re looking your younger self in the eye. You can look at an old photo to help you or look in the mirror – do whatever works for you. Now think about the things your inner child needs to hear from you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- I love you – were you told you were loved as a child? You may know it logically but if you feel this was missing, tell yourself you are loved. I grew up in a household that didn’t show much affection, so this was something my younger self really needed to hear. It helped me to recognise I am both capable of loving and worthy of being loved, I just needed to consistently reinforce it and allow myself to believe it.
- I hear you; you’re going to be okay – as a child, did you feel listened to? Are there things you wanted to say but never got the chance. Are there feelings you suppressed and ignored. Do you need to let your inner child know you’re listening now and that you’ll work through the challenges together? This is a great opportunity to address things that have held you back. If there are things you know you want to address but are concerned about doing them alone, find a practitioner or therapist to guide you through this healing process.
- I’m sorry – maybe you’ve been really tough in the way you speak to yourself, not listened, or been a hard taskmaster and driven yourself far too hard in the past. Do you need to let your inner child know you’re sorry for anything?
- I know you did your best – as a child, I associated what I achieved with my self-worth. I had to do things perfectly or I wasn’t good enough. You could have been in a situation where you blamed yourself for something and have carried the burden that wasn’t yours to carry for so long. It’s time to let it go of any blame, upset or perfection and recognise that as a child, you did your best in the situation.
- Thank you – what are all the things you need to thank your inner child for? Recognising how they have always tried their best and gotten through the tough times will help them to feel appreciated.
Make sure you talk to your inner child in a kind and heartfelt way, so you feel the love and warmth inside you. It’s like giving yourself an inner hug. Use your tone of voice and the words you chose to let your inner child know you love and support them, that they matter and are heard. Allow them to feel nurtured, cared for and loved.
Next time you catch yourself talking to yourself in a way that isn’t kind or compassionate, think about talking to your younger self and change the way you talk to yourself.
“Talk to yourself like you would someone you love.” Brené Brown