The good news is that we can give our inner child the love, the acceptance, the validation—whatever it is that she wanted and never experienced as a child—ourselves. We can reconnect with her. We can learn to care for her. We can re-parent her ourselves. In doing so we begin to heal our wounds and to encourage our inner child to re-emerge in the fullness of her spontaneity and wonder and love.
Toward healing our wounds, Stone and Winkelman identify three aspects of the child that are of particular importance—the vulnerable child (already introduced), the playful child, and the magical child.
It is the vulnerable child who embodies our sensitivity and fear. Her feelings are easily hurt and she generally lives in fear of abandonment. We have buried her deep within ourselves so that she will not be hurt.* It is common for parents to support this early burial by rejecting the child’s vulnerability, by asserting that life demands strength.†
* According to Stone and Winkleman, when we disown our vulnerability we identify instead with our omnipotence. Any quality admired by society can become the grounds of our omnipotence—good looks, social standing, achievements in life, etc. However, if we let the subpersonality that develops around the omnipotent voice take over, the opposite energy will not be far behind. As high as the omnipotent voice flies, that’s how low the frightened voice will fall.
We need to be able to access our assets and use them wisely, but a certain feeling of self-satisfaction is a signal that we have gone too far and begun to identify with the omnipotent voice. It does not take long before the opposite voice will take over—the frightened child within will wonder if we can back up those promises. The more we identify with the omnipotent voice, the more frightened our inner child becomes. Power is illusory as long as it depends on our superiority and the disempowerment or inferiority of others. True empowerment, ironically, requires embracing both power and vulnerability.
† Many men have an even harder time than women in agreeing to contact their vulnerable child because it is less socially acceptable for men to be vulnerable.