Slaying the Dragon: How to Heal Your Inner Child

I could hear the screams over and over again. The cries rang in my ears, and if they stopped for a moment, I knew they were never far away. I felt like I had an open wound, and every time it began to close, something would tear it apart again.  

This was my reality for a long time. The screaming was, of course, metaphorical, but the self-sabotage was very much real. Because I had suffered some severe trauma as a child, and because I had not healed from it or even begun to heal from it, I was under constant attack. And it always led me back to the same place: “I deserve this.” “I am a bad person.” “I am such a loser.” “I was born this way.” “Everyone hates me.”

I was in agony. 

I know it sounds dramatic, but there’s no better way to explain what was going on for me for really too long in my life. I was in so much pain as a child and, like many others, I carried that pain with me into my adulthood. What was worse was that, while I was very aware it was happening, I could not figure out why. And nothing seemed to help. Nothing changed. I didn’t know how to make it stop.  

Introducing the Inner Child

What I didn’t realize then was that the person feeling all that pain wasn’t me. It was me from before. A pain from my childhood that, even as I grew and matured, never left me. That inner child kept feeling excruciating pain, kept peeking her head out, kept unleashing trauma and negativity, even as my outward self and situation changed.  

Gradually, I began to look at that pain with different eyes. As an adult, I began searching for tools to help me learn how to release that pain and heal my inner child. I consulted professionals, and I read. I talked with other people about it. I intuitively started doing the inner work without realizing it was inner work. And I discovered this concept of the inner child.

The easiest way to understand what your inner child is would be to visualize that part of yourself that is connected to your natural strength, curiosity, excitement and zest for life. You know, the carefree, creative part of you that you can probably trace back to your childhood—before you were bombarded with negative experiences and wounds that quieted or maybe silenced that vibrant part.  

Also, let me be clear here: When I refer to the negativity, I don’t necessarily mean anything extreme. It does not have to be some major trauma like sexual or physical abuse, bullying or witnessing domestic violence. (Although it could be.) It might just be something as simple as a parent criticizing you, a peer embarrassing you in a crowd or a teacher declaring you weren’t smart enough. 

It could just be the little stuff we all deal with in other words. Because the cause doesn’t have to be major. It’s how we interpret it—the stories we tell ourselves and the way we address it in the moment or leave it to fester—that makes all the difference. You just have to absorb enough external factors to influence your perception of who you are. And believe me, we all do this. It happens at a very deep, subconscious level and plays out in our reality because we begin to believe what we have absorbed.  

The Role of the Inner Child

What is clear to me after doing extensive research and working on healing myself is that many of us spend a lot of time wondering why we’re suffering so much and why things can’t be easier, better, lighter or more fun. Much of the answer has to do with the fact that our inner child is pleading for relief. It is begging us to pay attention, to go back and visit our younger selves so we can heal and be better people. 

The thing is, dealing with the pain of your inner child as an adult is even harder than dealing with whatever injuries, big or little, you survived. Let’s say you were picked last for a team one day. Some people might not even remember it. Others might carry it with them, adding over time a story about how it wasn’t just being picked last. It represented some bigger, more awful truth that they incorporate into their very identity. 

Our inner child often continues to carry our wounds, whatever they are, until we address the source.  And unfortunately, most of us never address the source because we don’t know it’s an option and we don’t know how.

The problem is, the longer you let it sit unattended, the more walls you build and the more hurts you accumulate so that the pain gets to be both exponential and unbearable.

How does this look? It depends on the person and the situation. Maybe your parent blew you off or told you to be quiet when you tried to express yourself as a child. What you felt at the time might’ve been embarrassment or anger, but now, as an adult, it becomes an inability to speak your truth, communicate authentically or simply be confident.

Or maybe you suffered something even more traumatic, like abuse, as a child. As an adult, you might find yourself in another abusive relationship or in a victim role. The abuse became woven into your life so that, while it’s painful, it’s also all you know.

No one has to live this way.

Reclaiming the Best Part of You

Many people can overcome these patterns, either because they are naturally resilient and have a solid support system in place that provides love and safety, or because they do the work. They get to know themselves, and they face their feelings, seeking to understand why they feel them. They are honest. They return to their childhoods from a place of compassion and forgiveness. They heal.

The good news? This process returns to you that joy, that flow, that oneness with life again. (And if you don’t remember a time of peace, flow and zest for life, you can experience it for the first time once you heal your inner child.) You can recover the true self that lives beneath all the armor and walls and masks you’ve built up over your life.

Think of your natural state before all the people, programming and messages took hold of you and told you who you are, who you are not and who you should be. Say hello, because that is your inner child. And you’re going to love him or her.


For more information about healing your inner child, check out the following:

By the Book

Recovery of Your Inner Child

On the Air

“The Inner Child Podcast” by Gloria Zhang

On the Web

25 Signs You Have a Wounded Inner Child (and How to Heal)


  1. Liz on October 6, 2021 at 11:27 pm


    • PamC on October 14, 2021 at 2:33 pm

      Glad it had an impact! Hope you enjoyed it1

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