Relational needs: the ‘inner child’
In adulthood, people's relational needs for intimacy and proximity with others varies. Some of them need a lot of space and others require more closeness. The individual’s relational needs (eg. feeling safe, building trust etc.) are defined and influenced by the attachment style of the individual which is formed in childhood. In an ideal world, the child’s needs are all met and satisfied in a healthy way. Thus, the child builds resilience, an inner safety, a strong sense of self and a secure attachment.
When things go wrong
However, when some of these profound needs are not met by the caregiver, the child is then left to their own devices. This creates confusion for the child as he is asked to meet his needs on his own at such a young age. On top of that, the child has to manage the failing of his caregiver to attend to him.
Then, the child can feel abandoned, rejected and alone in this phase as he experiences the absence of the other person and his unmet needs. In this phase difficult emotions are stored in child’s memory creating a hole in the child’s inner world. Profound needs are denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. The message that the child receives is that we need to "grow up," putting childish things aside. However, these emotions and messages accompany the individual throughout his life and can become part of his identity as it is something that he has never really addressed. They unconsciously transfer these wounds/traumas/injuries from the past into the present. When profound needs are not met we say that your ‘inner child’, a younger part of our self is wounded. It is the ‘inner child’ that needs healing.
What is an inner child?
We all have an inner child. It is who we are when we were born, our natural relational core self. That includes our natural feelings, personality, playfulness, intuition, spontaneity, curiosity, passion, joy, sense of wonder, and creativity. Our inner child is our right-brain, inner experience as felt through our bodies. It is the place of our gut feelings.
So the question is how we work with our injured inner child, an individual whose profound needs have not been met in a young age and continues to feel alone, empty and struggle to relate in a safe and secure way with others?
This requires revisiting the history by accessing the primal wound that the self has experienced. Psychotherapy and counselling can facilitate this process and help you build resilience and find balance in your life. Take action and speak to a therapist.