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Finding Love Motivates the Inner Child

Love is probably the most common human motivation.

Do you know that there are more songs about love than about any other subject?

Love is probably the most important subject for most people. If you asked them, they might admit it. Love is more important that fortune and fame.


To be human is to know the separation trauma of being forgotten, abandoned, abused as a very young child. The times of trauma create the inner child who is the source of what triggers us as adults—rejection, criticism, being abandoned mean you aren’t loved.

The early childhood wounds lead to emptiness or hole in the heart that becomes the motivating force for human. The wounded inner child, knowledge of which, is suppressed motivates the adult to find love.

Does the Inner Child find the Love that is Sought?

What are the common themes of love?

A long time ago I heard Marianne Williamson talk about falling in love. Perhaps you may recall how “falling in love” feels: you are transported to a giddy height; you are definitely not the same person you were before; you can’t help thinking about this person; your eyes shine; you couldn’t be happier.

She says that it’s the stage when you see the other as God sees—only the positive, the perfection. Hmm, think about it, you experience love because you see the other as God sees.

Or someone sees you as God does as if you were perfection. Receiving such love bursts your heart with happiness, right?

You are fed from childhood, all kinds of stories about love. A very common one is a myth about love: fairy tales’ happily ever after. Some fairy tales like Cinderella describe what has perhaps become a fantasy fixture in several generations of women. You find love in your Prince Charming and you live happily ever after.

What that love from Prince Charming is you only get to imagine. Nothing about the fairy tale tells you what love dictates in your behavior, perspectives toward your loved one.

Here, the idea of love is that it comes from that one person. After the wedding newlyweds are left on their own to learn how to be loving.

Last story—your story. What did you learn about love, in your family?

I never heard the word “love” ever in growing up. It was something never mentioned or talked about in my Japanese-American family. No hugs, either. I figured out that what my parents’ idea of love was duty or responsibility.

They responsibly saw to our physical needs making sure that we had a safe home, enough to eat, and clothes to wear—our basic physical needs. I remember at the beginning of each school year how proud my mother was about the whole new set of school clothes we each had.

Even as a married adult my parents took care of such needs. One example: they bought me a new car when I began graduate school and needed a reliable car for the commute in Maine weather.

This is how I felt loved.

What did you learn about love in your family?

In what ways do you love the same or different from your family?

Do the ways your family love fill the emptiness in the wounded inner child’s heart?

What is your best experience of love?

Think of all those in your family and among your friends whom you shared love.

Whom did you love best? Who loved you best?

What was this “love” that impacted you?

My best experience of love is when someone saw me deeply, acknowledged and accepted me unconditionally. I felt safe. My heart was full, peaceful and joyful.

It’s a rare experience. I think it may have touched the heart of my inner child(ren).

What was it like when you felt most loved?

How interruptions of parental love create our inner child

No matter how wonderful our parents are, it is impossible for them to always care for us as we needed through our early years of life.

Life happens–Birth of siblings. Constant fighting. The abuse of alcohol. Moves created by father’s job changes. Illness or death in the family.

These are obvious occurrences that would affect the care and attention a young baby/toddler needs.

Here are some of the consequences of such events that I learned in the Child-heart sessions with clients:

  • A 7-year-old believed that the sudden illness and death of a younger brother was her fault.

  • The birth of a younger sibling when she was three meant that she lost her step-father’s attention

  • The move to a home separate from living with her grandparents brought fear to a 4-year-old. She no longer felt safe.

  • A younger sister contracting polio caused a 5-year-old to believe it was because of something she did.

  • Waiting for father to return home so he would be punished resulted in a young boy’s suppression of anger and hardening his heart.

Please take time right now and look at your early history to see what may have occurred to impact how you saw yourself and the world. What were the consequences for you?

How losing care and attention, even for a short while, results in early limiting beliefs and rigid strategies of the inner child

There are common results that I’ve seen from the interruption of care and attention when a child is young: a belief about self and life, and adopting limiting strategies.

  • When there is a perception of withdrawal of love and attention, a child believes it’s because s/he is unlovable, defective or doesn’t deserve to be alive.

  • When there is an experience of abandonment, the young child decides to be self-reliant and independent, with an emotional isolation to protect from further hurt.

  • Protection from further hurt results in a “wall” around the heart.

  • Strategies of over-giving, over-pleasing, over-achieving may result that drives the growing child and adult

The hurt of the inner child

Through sessions with many “lost” inner children, I’ve learned what happened to young children.

When someone loses a parent’s attention, fear and anxiety appear. In fact, one common motivation for some to do inner child work is their awareness that they’ve been anxious their whole life.

  • One “lost” his father when his mother forbade her husband from playing with him after work. She was jealous. Anxiety has been a constant companion in his whole adult life.

  • The 3-year-old who lost her step-father’s attention when his own daughter was born has been vigilant her whole life.

  • The 4-year-old who lost the safety of her grandparents experienced debilitating anxiety most of her adult life. She was more exposed to her father’s sternness and unpredictable anger. As an adult, she needed time to collect herself each morning to get through her day.

How love can repair the wounded heart of the inner child

Attention to needs that lets a child know that s/he is important is the form of love that affects the young child.

  • Being seen/heard/felt is essential to convey that impression that s/he is important.

  • Having a witness to what in the heart—its pain, fears, and needs—is reparative. When the adult is able to connect and interact as a present compassionate adult to the young self, the experience is transformative.

Anxiety disappears. Vigilance is dropped. The adult feels like a new person.

For a blessed few, this experience of transforming love can come from loving adults in their lives. Knowing that someone has “your back” sometimes penetrates the inner child’s heart.

For many, doing personal work focused on healing the inner child is how the adult is transformed.

What have you learned about love through this post?

What I’ve learned from my experiences that I’ve described is

  • I don’t love as well as I could: I don’t give those I love the kind of time and attention that their hearts deserve.

  • I’m learning to love myself better by listening to my heart, accepting its emotions and needs, as an adult and as a child.

  • I’ve learned not to look for love outside of me because I can learn how to be responsible for loving myself.


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