Trauma Can Affect You: Ways to Help Yourself to Recover

Past or current trauma can affect you, your thoughts, and your behavior. Having past trauma, as a child or as an adult is common in our society.

Trauma affects some people more than others

Some people are more resilient and have more support. Ongoing anxiety issues may be something you need to learn to cope with.  If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), more distressing symptoms may continue to affect your life.

Some health care settings are embracing Trauma- informed Care (TIC)

TIC assumes that people have had past traumas and attempts to avoid “triggers”. They want to prevent people feeling re-traumatized while they are receiving health care, and help them feel more safe and secure.

TIC Resources and Education are needed

I developed a Trauma Recovery Webquest  to share important information about TIC concepts including both childhood and adult scenarios.  It was designed to be used for health professionals as well as for anyone else.

Please realize that the linked video of childhood trauma in the first Powerpoint. Living with Trauma-Finding Recovery can be quite upsetting.  Feel free to skip that part if you don’t think you should watch it.

The webpages have many valuable links. The Trauma Webquest Process page includes a Resilience website and many handouts to help people cope with their symptoms of anxiety, flashbacks, dissociation, or thoughts of self-harm.

I have included (for free) links to some of the Recovery Workbooks that I have had for sale on my website, including Managing Anger, Managing Addiction, Depression, and a Coping & Relaxation Workbook.

Most importantly, you can use the Finding Your Way to Cope with Trauma Workbook !

I sincerely hope that you will find this information to be helpful and useful.

Believe that recovery  is possible.

You might enjoy the following video to inspire you:

 

Blog post #21  8-27-20 by Mary Knutson Health Vista, Inc.

A Great Way to Plan Ahead: Use a Coping Plan!

Thoughtful woman looking toward a bright path

Your path ahead looks uncertain, and it will be full of ups and downs.  Most people struggle with how to cope when their emotions may tend to get out of control.

What is a Coping Plan?

I would like to share a simple worksheet that was developed to help with that.  It will guide you to put some thought into what “triggers” you, and what warning signs would be seen by others when you are upset.

It also helps you explore what is helpful and what is not helpful if you feel like you are losing control.   The Coping plan can be shared with others, so they understand more about you and your needs. And, you will be able to be more prepared  for successful coping if you plan ahead.

How to Use a Coping Plan

Please go to to my Coping Plan webpage to read more about using the worksheet and about Trauma-Informed Care.  It was developed to help prevent people from being re-traumatized because of the reactions of others to their behaviors. To summarize:

Trauma can shape people’s mental, emotional, spiritual
and physical well-being.  Nearly every
family is impacted in some way.  Instead of asking “what is wrong with you?” ask “what has happened to you?” Reduce the blame and shame that some people feel. Build understanding of how the past impacts the present and help you progress
toward healing and recovery

The original link used for the information above was:

WI Dept. of Health Services. (2012). Wisconsin State Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)
Educational and Media Campaign. Retrieved 7-15-12 from
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/mh_bcmh/tic/index.htm 

A current link for more information about Trauma-Informed Care is https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/resilient/trauma-informed-practices.htm

You will probably also learn that your behaviors are not so different than many other people who we interacted with as we developed the worksheet.

The coping plan worksheet is available here >>>

Find successful ways to cope

My goal is to help people who are struggling with anxiety, anger, depression, addiction, or other behavior problems to cope better.  There are lots of ideas on the worksheet!

Share your coping plan with people around you

Allow  family, friends, and community be able to help you more.   Things usually seem easier when they are discussed ahead of time and they know what to expect.  Stronger relationships can happen with better coping.

Hopefully,  life’s path will look brighter as you feel more prepared and in control.  I hope this information is helpful to you!

 

Blog Post # 20  written 6-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Reflections: Ways to Learn at an Older Age

Challenging myself to learn:learn with book, hands and pencil

I always valued and enjoyed lifelong learning. But, now I am over 60.  I wonder if I can learn at an older age?  As I age, I feel more like slowing down than “ramping up”.  I am not very confident about learning new skills. And, I am not sure I should take on any big new technology projects, even though it was my plan to do more with my website now that I am semi-retired.

Gaining Confidence:

I took a huge step when I decided not to renew my website maintenance contract (because of the expense).  It was very scary to imagine doing it myself.  I talked to my family and some friends about it, and they seemed to think I could do it. But, I knew I needed lots of support as I learn at this older age.

I chose to switch to GoDaddy webhosting because they take care of some of the maintenance tasks, and they have 24/7 customer service by phone. They seemed very patient and helpful during the transition when  I called many times for many reasons. One of them said he could tell by my voice that I was a “mature” person and he was impressed that I was doing this.  Even though it was like saying he thought I was old, It was nice to hear some positive words during stressful times when problems needed to be solved.

Learning at an older age:

I watched some tutorials and videos, but that didn’t seem to be enough for me.  I looked for an online class to take, but didn’t find what I needed.  Thankfully, I found a book I had called the WordPress: The Missing Manual (2014).  I bought it many years ago but hadn’t read it yet.  I know it is outdated, but it is a great overview so I can understand what WordPress is, how to manage it, and how to maintain it.  And, it gives some step-by-step directions!

Understand Your Individual Ways of Learning:

There is a lot more to learning than you may have realized.  People have different ways of learning.  At any age, it helps if you make a plan to optimize your readiness to learn.  You can read my Ready to Learn handout at https://healthvista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ReadyToLearnHandout.pdf

I won’t be adding new web pages anytime soon, but I am learning a lot. So far, I have gotten through most of the information about creating and editing blogs. I found out that I didn’t do them exactly correctly in the past. Next, I will start reading about web pages so I can organize things better and improve my health resources website at healthvista.net .

Practicing:

I am writing this post as a “practice session”.  If I read about something without using the information, I usually don’t remember what I read.  My plan is to practice as I go through the book, so I can learn better.  There was another reason for creating this post, I wanted to practice finding and using some free stock pictures that are not copyrighted.  I was glad to find more images for future projects on Freeimages.com, Pixabay, and Unsplash,

Growing toward success:

I know that I am gaining skills and confidence as I challenge myself.  Even if I make mistakes along the way and it takes a lot of time, I will be learning and growing.  Instead of learning less when I am older, maybe retirement is the best time to learn.  Hopefullly, there will be more time to spend learning. And, as I learn at an older age, I have more wisdom to know what help I will need to reach my goals.

Here’s to this one small success!  I am on my way to learning how to maintain my website.  I was able to create a blog post correctly!

celebration picture of 2 champagne glasses

Blog post # 19 created 5-24-20 by Mary Knutson and edited 6-9-20

Photos by Piotr Lewandowski and Wynand Van Neikerk from FreeImages,com

Balancing Fitness and Self-Care

Fitness training. Muscular man holding weights in one armed plank positionpushing up

Are you balancing fitness with self-care?

Is your New Year’s resolution still going strong? Are you still spending every spare moment improving your health and fitness? If so, congratulations to you. It’s hard to keep up the progress toward self-improvement long-term. For many of us, there comes a point where we push a little too hard and become burnt out.  Even if you feel like you could keep at this rate for weeks to come, your progress may stall. If you don’t have enough self-care, you will more likely decide you want to give up.

Developing a fitness routine has become a cornerstone in the lives of many. For some, exercise has been a saving grace—a way of coping for those suffering from depression, anxiety or addiction. It can help refocus their lives as they strive for recovery. But as with anything in life, the benefit is limited if we start to overdo it.

How We Burn Out on Fitness

In our efforts to become better people, we may push our minds and bodies to their limits. Self-improvement requires insight into ourselves to see if there is something wrong. Maybe it’s that we are overweight, can’t run as far as we’d like, or that we rely too heavily on an addictive substance that’s ruining our lives. When we see room for improvement, we set goals and start an action plan of what we think would help us meet those goals. We may spend more time at the gym, improve our diets, or change our lifestyles, all in the name of personal fitness.

Over time, as we see improvements, it fuels us to push a little harder. We push and push until one day we notice that for some unknown reason the scale begins to tick in the wrong direction, or something happens to cause discomfort. Even something small that could be gut-wrenching and upsetting. Suddenly, we may realize how much time and energy we’ve spent focused on losing weight or gaining muscle mass. That tired feeling we’ve been pushing off is back and we decide to maybe skip the gym today. This is what burning out can feel like. It can mark the end of our progress for better fitness and self-improvement.

Importance of Balancing Fitness with Self-Care

So how do we avoid burn out and sustain a fitness routine for the rest of our lives? The answer lies ultimately in our ability to love ourselves and care for our needs. Self-care is about taking a moment to pause. Start by appreciating who we are and what we’ve acheived. Instead of always striving for self-improvement and always pushing to be better, we can decide to reward ourselves for simply being who we are. Personal acts of self-care may include taking a day to get a massage, lounge in the spa, sleep in on a weekend, or meditate. If you enjoy meditating, consider finding a quiet space in your home where you can create your own meditation room. These acts of treating ourselves reward us with rest and relaxation can be just as motivating as “sticking your nose to the grindstone” with your fitness routine.

Make Time for Fitness and Self-care

The key to finding the right balance between your fitness routine and self-care activities is by setting aside time for both. Perhaps you’ve already discovered your physical and mental limitations when you pushed yourself to be fit. Decide to never push yourself to do more than you can handle. Whenever you feel strained or discouraged, allow yourself a day or even a weekend to indulge in self-care.

By scheduling some self-care days throughout your calendar, you give yourself small pauses in your procession of self-improvement to reflect and catch your breath. Knowing that you have an upcoming day for self-care will help motivate you to keep pushing yourself in your fitness routine and prevent you from burning out along the way.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Posted 10-5-18 Blog article by Guest Contributer Shiela Olson.

Shiela has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions.  FitSheila.com was created to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Additional link suggestion:  https://faithcenteredfitness.com/

The Power of Self-Expression: Art and Music Therapy in Recovery

Woman expressing herself through painting

If you are someone you know is recovering from addiction, you may need a way to stop the cycle of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviors. Music and art therapy  can be part of successful treatment plan.  Creative expression has been used for years in either individual or group counseling. Art therapy is used in rehab centers, hospitals, schools, and other settings for recovery. Many people who do not respond well to more traditional treatments have success with music and art therapy.

Self-expression

Communication and self-expression issues are common among people with substance abuse problems. Creative communication can help people in recovery process their thoughts and feelings in a positive way. Often, those who suffer from addiction have trouble making sense of their emotions. And,  they struggle with how people respond to them. Creativity opens new avenues of understanding and helps people learn new thoughts, responses, and behavior patterns.

Art benefits for recovery

People often deny the need for help and may resist treatment.  Art therapy can help overcome this because art therapy can motivate people. They may want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, gain more self-confidence, and improve communication skills. Music is often used to help overcome depression, stress, anxiety and anger or rage issues. Those emotional responses often produce unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Music as therapy

Listening to and playing music creates a certain response in the brain. It stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine which causes an overall sense of well-being. Music can help people be more likely to seek treatment, and more likely to continue toward recovery. Also, music therapy can increase positive feelings and self-awareness. Then, people can cope better with temptations and frustrations that come from addictions.

When listening to their favorite music, people experience a stimulation of the auditory cortex in anticipation of their favorite musical passages. And then, the feeling of exultation at its peak has a powerfully healing impact. Sometimes our brain helps us experience music even when we’re not actually listening to it or performing it.

Self-discovery

Art and music therapy help you get in touch with your feelings. They also help you learn to accept yourself, and decrease feelings of guilt and shame. The goal is to create a sense of happiness and hope through painting, sculpting, coloring, drawing, collages, or other artwork. Be very creative as you express every aspect of your emotions, both positive and negative.

Art in recovery

For the best results, continue art and music therapy even after formal treatment is done.  As they help to relieve stress, they can help you cope with depression, and fend off the temptation to use again.

At your home, choose art and music that expresses your emotions and helps your mood. According to HomeAdvisor, “Everyone deserves to have their own space for their passion project, be it a crafting station or simply a place to journal. Look around your home with a creative eye, and you’ll realize that much of what you need to create your ideal hobby workshop is already nearby and can be easily converted.” Staying sober or free of addictions is an ongoing struggle. It’s important to find a way to cope with the emotional chaos and pressures that make recovery so difficult.

Guest article by Kim Thomas of US Health Corps posted 8-12-18.

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Suggested links:  https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music/
or https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music-for-teens/

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

How to Explain Addiction to Children

Little girl child with concerned expression

Protecting and Educating Kids About the Dangers of Drugs

Parents want their children to be unaffected by addiction issues. So, addiction may not be a hot topic within your family. However, at some point, all children will probably face peer pressure or witness someone who is struggling with a substance abuse disorder. As your child grows, you can help her understand and develop skills that prevent her from going down the path of addiction.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t assume that your child knows about addiction and related issues. According to kidshealth.org, opening up to your child about the dangers of substance abuse makes it more likely she’ll come to you for help when she faces a problem or encounters peer pressure.

Don’t assume your child already knows the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse, or that she could never fall victim. Though schools may teach students about dealing with peer pressure, it’s up to you to guide her in the right direction. You can do so by modeling behavior and keeping the lines of communication open. It’s also essential to understand the signs of addiction and substance use, and to watch your children closely for changes.

Discuss Family Addiction Problems Openly

If you or your partner is facing an addiction, start a conversation that validates your child’s feelings. Let her know she will always be loved and discuss what steps are being taken for recovery. Customize your discussion for her age group. If a child does not understand what addiction is, you could say that strong cravings can happen over and over throughout the day and night. It is very hard to resist the urge to do what it says. You could compare it to having an annoying song in your head that keeps coming back over and over again.

Acquire Knowledge

 Because it’s not easy to explain addiction to a child, your best bet is to acquire as much information as you can. Be ready to answer any awkward questions that could come up. According to Psych Central, while it’s not a good idea to lie to your child, you may want to be careful to protect young children from the grittier details.

Be as straightforward as possible if your child has questions. If she asks about your own experience with drugs or other addictions, it is best to tell the truth. Real stories can help her learn about consequences. Telling the truth about your imperfections  also establishes a safety net so your child is more likely to talk to you about her struggles.  By sharing information with your child you also reassure her that in life we have choices. Some of her choices could lead to problems, but making the right decisions will likely lead down a healthier path.

Tell Your Child That It’s Not Her Fault

Personality disorders often develop in people with an addiction, spurring them to say irrational things or lash out and blame others. Although addiction is no one’s fault, the addicted person is still responsible for their own behavior, and is the only person who can make recovery successful.  If an addict tells a child that she is the cause of the substance abuse, it is not true and it probably isn’t even how the addict really feels. Help your child understand that she shouldn’t carry a burden of guilt when loving someone with an addiction.

Find support

A support system is crucial in maintaining a sense of normalcy and stability in families. This may include a support group, friends, family and an accountability partner. Parents often face high levels of stress and need to make tough choices that will mold their child’s life. Parents need to seek support for themselves as well as for their children.

Addiction can affect everyone involved, especially a child who doesn’t fully grasp the concept of addiction. Offer support and protection to your child, repeating the fact that you love her. By talking openly about addiction, you can help her to grow up with the knowledge and confidence to just say no.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  February 20, 2018.

Revised for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Image Courtesy of Unsplash

3 Stress Relievers for Parents in Addiction Recovery

old shoes made into a flower planter

Being a parent is far from easy. Especially if you are a single parent who also is in addiction recovery. Parents are balancing meetings and therapy sessions with kids’ schedules and routines. They are making all the decisions and being the breadwinner, You face loads of stress each and every day.

Stress in Addiction Recovery

Stress takes its toll on parents in addiction recovery. You need to find ways to relieve your stress in healthy ways to avoid a relapse. Our X stress relievers will help.

Stick to a Daily Routine

While it may sound impossible to establish and stick to a daily routine, you need to make every effort to do so. A routine will help you keep track of where you need to be and when, and it will set a structured schedule for your children. Schedules and routines make children feel safe and secure. And, they help you relieve stress by knowing your responsibilities ahead of time. Daily routines also signify to your kids that you are reliable and accountable. This helps repair relationships with older children who may have been hurt emotionally by your addiction.

That’s not to say that your daily routine has to be rigid. You must allow for some flexibility because rigid schedules can be too demanding and often cause more stress. Kids also enjoy surprises every once in awhile. So, allow for special events on the weekend. Plan a special treat after dinner to reward academic or behavior improvements. Be ready to change your daily routine at certain times throughout the year. Expect change when school begins or ends, when kids start athletic or music lessons or programs, or when you join a support group.

Take Care of Yourself

Parents in addiction recovery often don’t prioritize their own health and well-being because they feel guilty for being an addict. They know they impacted their children with their previous self-destructive decisions and actions. However, stress takes a tremendous toll, especially on single parents’ health and must be managed if parents will be able to take care of their children properly.

Taking care of yourself should include eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. You can include your children in healthy eating by looking for and experimenting with recipes you find online. Cooking together teaches your children a new skill and provides you with quality time that will reduce your stress level. You also can exercise with your children. You could play football, baseball, or basketball, go for a family walk or bike ride. Try taking a hike, kayaking or fishing.

Enjoy Yourself Safely

Being a parent in addiction recovery does not mean that you cannot enjoy a night with friends or a social gathering. It is a good idea to relieve some stress and have some fun. It does, however, mean that you need to be smart about your choices and have a plan in place for maintaining your sobriety in tempting situations. If you are invited to a party that will put your sobriety at risk, take your own water or sparkling cider with you. Invite a friend who will keep you in check and who will not mind staying sober for the night with you. If you are concerned about being pressured to drink, tell people that you are a designated driver or that you don’t drink because you need to be available for your children.

It’s also a good idea to plan for a party or other tempting social situation by getting support ahead of time. If you are comfortable enough to do so, tell the party host that you are in recovery and ask whether nonalcoholic beverages will be served. You also can attend an extra meeting prior to the event or alert your sponsor to the event and make sure she will be available if you need her at the spur of the moment.

Parents in addiction recovery must manage their stress levels in healthy ways to maintain sobriety. Sticking to a daily routine, prioritizing self-care, and enjoying yourself safely are three great ways to relieve stress without putting your sobriety in jeopardy.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  8-5-17

Updated for readability by Mary Knutson 5-25-20

Anxiety: The Other Stage of Grief

Woman trying to find her way through woods

Sadness and anxiety often happen together. It’s common to feel anxiety after the death of a loved one. Grief and anxiety happen together. But, not much attention is given to this side of grief. When you’ve experienced a major loss, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost control and like the world is no longer the safe and normal place you once knew. When you pair these strong emotions of grief with feelings of helplessness, it’s easy for anxiety to grow.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety starts as extra worrying that interferes with your everyday life. You may feel a sense of dread or distress for no apparent reason, struggle with concentration, be irritable and on edge, and have trouble eating and sleeping. When anxiety is related to grief, it’s especially common to find yourself having obsessive thoughts. You may think about bad things happening to you or your loved ones. You may even face panic attacks where you have feelings of extreme fear, an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness.

Why Does Grief Cause Anxiety?

When you lose someone close to you, especially if that loss is unexpected, your sense of safety in the world can be shaken to its core. Suddenly you feel powerless and aware of how fragile life is, in a way you’ve never thought of before. You may develop an intense fear of your own death, or begin to worry about how you will manage without your loved one. These feelings can be incredibly stressful, especially when paired with the usual symptoms of grief. You may even have anxiety triggered by a fear of your own grief emotions or a feeling that you’re not able to cope with your grief.

How to Cope?

Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy. Anxiety often comes on unexpectedly and it can be hard to figure out the cause. That makes it more difficult to prepare for or avoid. However, there are some things you can do to cope with anxiety when it hits.

When you feel anxiety coming on, try practicing deep belly breathing. Breathe in slowly, letting your chest and stomach rise as your lungs fill with air, and then breathe out slowly. Breathing deeply and focusing on your breath can help tone down your body’s stress response, heading off an anxiety attack before it starts.

If you find yourself unable to sleep because you can’t turn off your racing thoughts, try playing guided imagery recordings. By guiding your thoughts toward positive imagery and away from unwanted thoughts, guided imagery can help you relax and clear your mind.

Try creating an anchor thought. An anchor thought can help you manage your anxiety when it creeps in. It’s called an “anchor thought” because it helps anchor you to reality and keeps your mind from spiraling into anxious thinking. An anchor thought might involve recalling a happy memory and the positive feelings associated with it. Or, it might be a breathing exercise or mantra you repeat until you’re feeling better.

Consider Seeking Treatment

If your anxiety doesn’t get better as your grief fades, or if it’s interfering with your everyday life, it’s important to seek treatment from a mental health professional. You may choose to talk to a grief counselor, join a support group, seek medication from a psychiatrist, or all three. No matter what you choose, getting help for your anxiety is an important step you can take toward managing your grief.

Recognize Normal Emotions

Anxiety is a normal part of grief. Grief pushes you into a world of intense emotions where nothing feels certain except, perhaps, uncertainty itself. While grieving a loved one can be an incredibly isolating experience, it’s important to remember that intense reactions like anxiety and even depression are normal, and there are experienced professionals who know how to help.

Image via Pixabay by Unsplash

Blog by Jennifer Scott, guest contributor posted  3-13-17

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Healing so Your Inner Child can be Free

Encourage Your Inner Child to be Free

football jersey girl with beads on and streaks of black makeup on cheeks

Healing, recovery, and coping involves taking care of ourselves and our “inner child”. Each of us has the desire to be cared for, loved and nurtured. That little child inside of you, (even when you are an adult), is called your “inner child.” Many people try to control their inner child, keeping them from truly being free to be themselves.  They may hide their inner child and make him or her invisible by:

Wearing one of these “masks”

  • “Fashion Show Plate” – Dressing up extremely fancy or carefully
  • “Make-up Artist” – Wearing too much make-up
  • “Body Perfect – Too much work on body shape and exercise
  • “Miss Manners” – Too much politeness
  • “The Blob” – Too much weight (obesity)
  • “The Glumstress” – Wearing drab colors
  • “The Overachiever” – Taking on all challenges
  • “The Daredevil”- Too much risk taking
  • “The Perfectionist” – Being obsessive or fixated on details

Masking your inner child:

People Pleasing –Always giving people what they want to please them, gain approval, and avoid conflict

Entertaining – Being the “life of the party” by making jokes, being a clown, and making other people happy without being sensitive to your own needs or feelings

Withdrawal, pulling in or nonfeeling – Holding back any emotional responses to make sure no one gets to know how you feel

Looking good – Being sure to look good by overachieving, being perfect, and doing only what seems to be the right thing

Enabling, or rescuing– By always focusing your attention and energies on the needs of others, you keep the focus off of yourself to the point that you can’t identify anything you need to work on yourself – You are out of touch with who you are.

Passive aggressive – Agreeing to go along with requests or orders when you disagree and have no plan to follow through

Jumping to negative assumptions – Assuming the worst about what others think and plan to do, you give other people power over you. Many people who have negative thinking hide their true selves to avoid conflict

Acting out, troubled person – Being a person who draws attention to your negative behaviors, you try to hide your real self who is sensitive and needy

Healing to overcome “invisibility” and becoming free to be yourself:

  • Believe that you and your inner child deserve respect.
  • Give yourself the nurturing, caring, love, forgiveness, and respect needed to heal.
  • Let go of self-pity over being neglected or abused as a child, and take charge of your life.
  • Create a bond between the adult you, and your inner child (to give you a sense of security and self-confidence).
  • Like your inner child, you may think, “All I want is to have someone hug me and tell me they are proud of me. Why can’t it happen?”
  • Instead, give yourself a hug every day, know your strengths, and be kind to yourself.
  • Say, “I am proud of me!”

Revised from Messina, J. J. & Messina, C. (2010). Growing down: Tools for healing the inner child. Retrieved from http://jamesjmessina.com/growingdowninnerchild/innerchild.html

Blog #11 written 1-23-16 by Mary Knutson RN for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated for readability 5-25-20

Nurturing and Healing Your Inner Child

Overhanging tree At the side of a creek
Play with your inner child at the side of a creek

Every child deserves  nurturing and security, but some children don’t have it.  Each of us has the desire to be cared for, loved and nurtured. That little child inside of you that needs healing, (even when you are an adult), is called your “inner child” or your inner spirit.  Sometimes, the people who raised you aren’t capable of giving the love and support that you deserved. Healing can happen if you direct caring thoughts and behaviors inward toward the child inside of you.

Your inner child is a free spirit that is emotional, sensitive, fun-loving, joyful, imaginative, and creative.

Finding your inner child:

  • Your childhood spirit may have been tamed, lost, or forgotten, but it is still somewhere inside you.
  • It can influence our decisions, even when we are unaware, because our inner child is part of our beliefs about ourselves.
  • That inner child may need healing and support if it was hurt, neglected, frustrated, or abused during childhood. Even if you have masked, or hidden the inner child, it may be causing you to be worried and fearful of being treated badly.
  • People often ignore their inner child if they have felt guilty or “not good enough.”
  • Our inner child may be hidden if we had to pretend our family was happy and healthy, even when it wasn’t.
  • Sometimes when we dream or daydream, we can picture what the little child is like.

We know our inner child is active when we:

  • Lose ourselves in fun
  • Enjoy playing with games, toys, or pets
  • Get emotional looking at old photo albums, scrapbooks or home movies about our childhood
  • Still think as a child does, seeking to please parents or extended families

Instead of nurturing and healing, many people hid their inner child and make him or her invisible by:

  • Wearing one of these “masks”
    • “Fashion Show Plate” – Dressing up extremely fancy or carefully
    • “Make-up Artist” – Wearing too much make-up
    • “Body Perfect – Too much work on body shape and exercise
    • “Miss Manners” – Too much politeness
    • “The Blob” – Too much weight (obesity)
    • “The Glumstress” – Wearing drab colors
    • “The Overachiever” – Taking on all challenges
    • “The Daredevil”- Too much risk taking
    • “The Perfectionist” – Being obsessive or fixated on details

Nurturing and healing your inner child:

Nurturing to overcome “Invisibility”

  • Believe that you and your inner child deserve respect.
  • Give yourself the nurturing, caring, love, forgiveness, and respect needed to heal.
  • Let go of self-pity over being neglected or abused as a child, and take charge of your life.
  • Create a bond between the adult you, and your inner child (to give you a sense of security and self-confidence).
  • Like your inner child, you may think, “All I want is to have someone hug me and tell me they are proud of me. Why can’t it happen?”
  • Instead, give yourself a hug every day, know your strengths, and be kind to yourself.
  • Say, “I am proud of me!”

Revised from Messina, J. J. & Messina, C. (2010). Growing down: Tools for healing the inner child,  Retrieved from http://jamesjmessina.com/growingdowninnerchild/innerchild.html

 

Blog # 10  by Mary Knutson 1-18-16 for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated for readability 5-25-20