You may wonder why, as an adult, you would need to revisit old, painful wounds of childhood and “re-parent” your inner child. After all, your childhood is a distant memory – it seems almost impossible that this could be the source of your current anxiety and depression. But the right brain hemisphere, the one that houses emotions, does not understand linear time and is weighed down by thirty-year-old (ish) memories. Your inner child needs your loving attention in order to heal.
The Inner War
Whether you witnessed a particularly ugly fight between your parents, were told that you weren’t good enough, got lost at the mall as a child, or simply observed your father’s depression, the right hemisphere remembers still to this day, even if your logical left hemisphere doesn’t. If you feel like you are at war with yourself, anxious, and depressed, the differences between your left and right hemispheres could be the instigator.
In order to heal, you must acknowledge how stress impacts your left and right brain hemispheres. In fact, it is highly likely that many of your actions today may result from right hemispheric transference—the process by which subtle body language of others is wired into your right hemisphere, even without “your” (your left hemisphere’s) consent. Your left hemisphere may have less control over your behavior than it thinks it does.
Picture this: You are a child doing your homework. Your mother comes home from work and begins to make dinner. You notice that she seems a little distracted, looking through you rather than at you. Her shoulders tense, jaw set, she stirs the spaghetti sauce. As she waits for the spaghetti to boil, she unconsciously, nervously picks at her fingernails. She is stressed, and this is how she handles it. Your left hemisphere continues to calculate math problems, but your right hemisphere has recorded this wordless encounter.
As a striking example of how a parent’s behavior (intentional or not) can affect wellbeing, a seminal 1959 study by psychologist Harry Harlow demonstrated that young monkeys with softer, more nurturing mothers built a psychological tool kit of sorts. With this tool kit, they could more calmly respond to stressors and form healthier relationships than their less-nurtured peers.
In line with Harlow’s discovery, there seems to be a sensitive period of brain development during which severe stress can take a huge toll. For example, researchers have discovered that early-life stress may hamper the development of the corpus callosum, or the only link between the left and right brain hemispheres. This could potentially hamper proper communication between the left and right hemispheres.
But unresolved childhood trauma affects more than your brain. The body responds to stress (whether actual or perceived) with inflammation. Long-term stress leads to long-term inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to most modern-day diseases, like diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmunity, obesity, and even depression and addiction. These diseases, in turn, fan the flames of inflammation.
So What Can You Do?
The good news is that this vicious cycle of disease is not your destiny. Unlike the less-nurtured monkeys, you have the opportunity to build a psychological tool kit of coping skills and heal your inner child. You can de-sensitize your stress response. You can learn mindfulness meditation and fully live in the moment.
Not only that, but it is never too late to rewire your brain! Researchers are currently discovering just how resilient our nervous system is. Through a process called neuroplasticity, the brain is able to “reboot” and “rewire” faulty or maladaptive pathways of the nervous system. This innate restorative process is maximized through an integrative psycho-physiologic (mind-body) healing approach like the one we provide.
But you may be skeptical of “therapy.” Maybe you have tried talk therapy in the past and experienced little relief. Be mindful that talk therapy only addresses the left “logical” brain hemisphere, often not reaching the right “emotional” hemisphere. To truly heal your inner child, you need something more integrative and multi-faceted than talk therapy. Watch our video below for more information.
At Helix Healthcare Group, we provide the integrative methods and compassionate support you need to heal your inner child. Our wide-ranging services include sound therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and shamanic healing, as well as process groups and individual psychotherapy, to name a few. We harness the power of cutting-edge solutions and channel it into your health, offering a blend of evidence-backed therapies, with ancient healing modalities from around the world. We would love to partner with you to heal your inner child! Contact us today to book a FREE consultation.