Inner child healing: 12 surprisingly powerful exercises

For many years I’ve considered myself to be very unattractive and unworthy of love.

Does that sound harsh?

Trust me, I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even asking that you agree with me.

I’m just explaining my experience and inner reality.

For years I struggled with this feeling that I’m physically unappealing.

But I found ways to work through these feelings and heal my wounded inner child.

Are you feeling inadequate, ugly, or like there’s something wrong with you?

We’ve all been there, and that’s why you might find these exercises that I’ve tried helpful as well. Here’s how it works:

12 powerful exercises for healing your inner child

1) Close your eyes and travel back in time

I don’t know what your childhood was like.

One thing I can say is that I often find myself missing my childhood. It wasn’t perfect, but there were so many memories and special experiences that made me who I am today.

The first powerful inner child healing exercise is to close your eyes and travel back to your childhood.

Think of five things that made you happy at that early stage of your life. For example:

  • Playing with your siblings
  • Eating delicious food
  • Running in the forests
  • Feeling endlessly curious
  • Playing sports like cricket

These can be really simple things you did growing up that brought you joy.

Reliving them in your mind gets you in touch with your inner child, which is the more innocent and emotionally raw part of yourself that still exists.

You may see images of yourself and your appearance, and that’s fine! But the focus here is on the emotions and experiences you had that brought you joy.

Your inner child is inside you and is you. He or she would love the chance for adult you to get back in touch and show some appreciation to again love the same things you once did.

The inner child’s line of communication is now more open.

2) Interview your inner child

The three primary kinds of inner child are: the abandoned child, the playful child, and the fearful child.

The abandoned inner child didn’t get much love and attention.

This may have been because their parents were too busy, abusive, or neglectful. The abandoned child is terrified of being judged as not good enough and left out, left behind, and left without love.

The fearful inner child is scared of being judged as inadequate.

They received a lot of criticism from an early age and it left them craving validation and approval. Even the slightest feeling of being “bad” or not good enough makes them hurt deeply.

The playful inner child grew up in a way that didn’t have much responsibility.

Their childhood was defined by having fun, being free, being cared for, and feeling spontaneous and joyful. Restrictions, judgments, and rules of adult life can leave the playful inner child confused and disappointed.

Your job is to approach that inner child in your mind and reach out to them.

You might seem a little skeptical about how you’re supposed to get in touch with these younger versions of you, but I have just the right method to get you started.

Getting in contact with your inner child requires you digging a little deeper, often made easier through mindfulness and meditation practices.

This free guided Self-Healing Meditation is in this case the perfect tool to get you started.

It enables the everyday thoughts pulling you in different directions to quieten down and make space for you to get in contact with your inner child.

Click here to access the 20 minute meditation.

Once you’re done, look in their eyes and ask them how they’re feeling.

Then you’ll know which kind of inner child you have and we can proceed to step three.

3) A unique and powerful exercise to flip the script

As I said, I developed a specific exercise to work with my inner child and face this feeling of being ugly head-on.

It brought up some tough emotions, but it’s been a very worthwhile endeavor for me that’s completely shifted how I view my place in the world and my worth in physical terms.

Many people on my videos told me I look unattractive and I’m ugly.

I admit that it hurt because it tapped into the longstanding insecurity I’ve had that I’m not very good-looking and that my face is asymmetrical.

I agree that I’m objectively not a Greek god and that I’m not what most women would consider especially handsome.

So here’s what we do…

  • First, find that inner script about your appearance inside your head. Look at your reflection on the screen.

Think of the words that come up: “chunky,” “weird nose,” “baggy cheeks” or “goofy eyes,” whatever it is you feel is “ugly” about you…

  •  Now come up to your five-year-old you. This is your inner child! Tell him or her what’s bad about them using these scripts. “You look chunky,” “you have a weird nose,” and “your eyes are messed up!”
  • How do you feel as you tell your innocent younger child they’re an ugly bastard? You’re likely going to feel kind of ridiculous and realize how cruel and strange it is to see yourself in such a limiting way as “ugly.”

Watch the video below where I take you through this exact exercise.

When you watch it, keep in mind that you can replace my experience of feeling like I’m ugly with whatever issue you’re currently facing.

YouTube video


4) Meditate on a time you felt much better

There was a time when you felt free from the issues you’re currently facing. And that time was likely when you were much younger.

Let’s now go back to that time so you can get in touch with your inner child.

What you do is sit down peacefully and close your eyes to meditate.

I’ve already stressed the importance above, so if you haven’t already:

Click here to access the 20 minute free guided meditation led by Rudá himself.

Meditation sessions such as these activate your brain and focuses and soothes you, especially when difficult emotions or thoughts come up.

  • Begin by simply breathing deeply and relaxing.
  • Let your thoughts pop up and glide by, observe them but don’t interpret or react to them.
  • Go back to find your inner child again and ask them what is hurting them.
  • You may get an answer, you may not. It often comes in the form of strong emotion from your inner child straight to the adult you who is meditating.
  • Don’t react too much, just absorb what you’re feeling. It’s all valid, even feelings of confusion or not being sure what your inner child wants to say.
  • This could go by quickly in a few minutes or take hours. Roll with it.

Here are more pointers on embracing meditation effectively and how to avoid some common mistakes from the legendary Zen Buddhist and philosopher Alan Watts.

5) Get out a pen and paper and get ready to write…

Next up, there is a powerful writing exercise that’s great for inner child healing.

Sit down with a pen and paper and write a letter to your inner child.

This is your apology for the ways you’ve judged and devalued your inner child, including the way that you’ve focused on devaluing their appearance.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here was my letter to my inner child. I’m sharing it with you because Ideapod is all about radical self-honesty and sharing what we’re going through in a real way.

Hey Justin,

I’m writing this to you from 2022. I’m doing pretty well! I’ve got a great job and friends I care about, and I and my brothers are happy.

But I want to tell you something.

When I grew up more I started to believe some things about myself. I thought I was ugly. Some of the other kids said it a few times, and I wouldn’t have cared…

But I think I was already worried they were right. And it hurt a lot. I got upset, and I started to feel really bad about myself. I started to think I was worth nothing and forget all about you and our life growing up.

I want to say sorry for that. You deserve more! And from now on, I’m giving us both the respect we deserve, mate.

The truth is I’m not a supermodel! But I think I have a kind of nice smile, and my last girlfriend even said so! We always did have a charming grin, didn’t we? I think my eyes could be worse, too.

But the point is, even if I was a walking Halloween monster I’d still know now that I’m not only defined by my outside appearance and that being a bit less great looking is perfectly fine! In fact, it’s kind of cool, because you can see how people treat you when they don’t think you’re that handsome and see how that changes how they act!

It’s like a truth potion for people’s character.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is you keep being your mate! I’ll never forget the times we shared, and I value you. You rock!


Old Justin.

6) Identify your inner child’s beliefs and fears

Your inner child is a person just like you, especially because they are you.

Just an earlier version.

Your inner child isn’t really the same as simply the “kid” version of you, they are the subconscious and less-formed version of you.

This means that they are essentially the authentic core of who you have become.

They are not fully defined but are in the midst of the authentic experiences, joys, traumas, and confusions that shaped you into who you became.

They are the source, the genuine energy which you can tap into in order to go back to the roots of your insecurities and suffering.

Our inner child doesn’t have a filter. They experience life as it comes, and beliefs that are imported to our inner child can cause major confusion and pain.

Connecting with your inner child is all about identifying their beliefs and fears. These may often come in the form of emotions and vague sensations. For example:

  • “I feel unsafe and exposed.”
  • “I feel not good enough.”
  • “I feel left behind.”
  • “I feel unheard.”
  • “I feel that I am completely alone.”

Be honest about what your inner child is telling you, and grapple with it as much as necessary.

This struggle will bring you to a new place of understanding of how deep the roots of feeling ugly can extend.

7) Build your resilience

Do you know what holds people back from overcoming their past traumas? What keeps people in a cycle of pain? A lack of resilience.

Without resilience, it’s extremely hard to overcome all the setbacks that come with life, never mind an upbringing that still haunts you.

I know this because until recently I had a tough time overcoming my inner-child demons. I knew I wanted to better my life, but I struggled to find my inner power. I had no direction, no idea of how resilient I was.

That was until I watched the free video by life coach Jeanette Brown

Through many years of experience, Jeanette has found a unique secret to building a resilient mindset, using a method so easy you’ll kick yourself for not trying it sooner. 

And the best part?

Jeanette, unlike other coaches, focuses on putting you in control of your life. Living a life with passion and purpose is possible, but it can only be achieved with a certain drive and mindset. 

To find out what the secret to resiliency is, check out her free video here.

8) Find those who value you for who you truly are

Another important exercise for inner child healing is to reflect on all those who value you for who you are and see your beauty.

Your inner child may feel left behind or devalued, but your life now is your chance to redeem that.

Embrace these hard feelings and accept them, but also reflect on all those surrounding you and around you who tell you they value you, they find you attractive and they care about you.

If you want to doubt their word you’d have to say they’re all fake, and I’m guessing they’re not!

There is nothing worse than being patronizing, but a real friend never is.

They will tell you the truth straight up.

And so:

I want you to go to those friends and ask them just how ugly you are straight up. Take it straight to the face. Let them roast you like a back circuit comedian in the slums eating Mr. Noodles from the garbage can.

Let them make fun of your nose and your face and whatever else they want, and then laugh.

So, you’re not the most gorgeous person on this planet? No problem.

9) Understand your wounded inner child

Many of us have a wounded inner child who wants nothing more than to be talked to.

They just want to know that they matter and that they are good enough.

Emotional wounds don’t just go away. They linger and can become chronic, especially when it’s something like feeling you’re inadequate, look bad, or are “weird” or unwelcome.

The basic feeling of being rejected, alone, or misunderstood cuts very deep and lasts long.

When you feel invalidated, ugly, unwanted, or unneeded it leaves an imprint.

Then, the many situations which come up later in life that can reimpose this sensation hit ten times as hard.

You’re left in the throes of incredible pain and frustration without quite knowing why.

This is an excellent video from Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes Ph.D. about healing the inner child.

YouTube video

10) Practicing self-compassion in a real way

We’re often told that it’s important to value ourselves and have solid self-esteem.

True self-compassion isn’t about self-talk or just telling yourself that you shouldn’t feel bad.

Feeling “bad” is your right, just like feeling “good” is your right.

The point is that true self-compassion comes from mindfulness about your inner child and the experiences they went through.

None of this is about telling them that their fears and insecurities were hyped or are not reasonable.

It’s simply about observing, being present, and allowing your inner child to know that they are valid, wanted, and important.

Your job is to make it clear to them that they’ve heard and valid in the first place because that’s generally at the core of the emotional wound which was inflicted growing up.

11) Breathe through it

Breath is something we often take for granted.

After all, short of a medical emergency, strenuous exercise, or a sudden crisis like losing oxygen in a plane, we don’t need to think about breathing.

But breathing is unique because, unlike our digestion, say or our reaction to strong heat or cold, breathing is something we can consciously control.

We can choose to let breathing go on autopilot, but we can also consciously think of it and begin to decide how we breathe.

This makes breathing a powerful bridge between our conscious and unconscious minds.

Our intake of oxygen also has a deep relation to our own ability to be grounded, present, and well.

And it’s also a bridge to getting in touch with your inner child and healing the divide between you and that deep feeling of being unworthy due to your physical appearance.

If you want to know how to breathe in a powerful way that will get you in touch with your inner child, I highly recommend watching this free breathwork video, created by the shaman, Rudá Iandê.

The exercises he’s created combine years of breathwork experience and ancient shamanic beliefs, designed to help you relax and check in with your body and soul.

After many years of suppressing my emotions, Rudá’s dynamic breathwork flow quite literally revived the connection.

And as this relationship with myself strengthens, I find it easier to work through past issues from a place of love and understanding.

And that’s what you need – a spark to reconnect you with your feelings so that you can continue on your healing journey.

Here’s a link to the free video again.

12) Rediscover the days of play and spontaneity

One of the best ways to heal your inner child is to play with them.

Leave the judgments and insecurities aside for the moment and travel in your mind to a simpler time.

The smell of fresh-cut lawns, summer days of swimming, and watermelon. The taste of cramming a big slice of pizza in your face.

These are the joys of life. These are beautiful moments that defined you then and define you now.

What if you’re still struggling?

Tuning into your inner child will take some time.

It’s normal for it to feel a bit strange and foreign. Give it time. You can try them again and see how it feels.

If these inner child healing exercises start to feel like they a the beginning of a new sense of healing, I suggest you take it further and try Rudá Iandê’s shamanic breathwork masterclass.

The exercises shared in Rudá’s masterclass combine many years of breathwork and ancient shamanic practices to help you connect with yourself at a very deep level.

I’ve felt a difference because it takes me out of my mind and puts me into the experience of my body and deep inner child.

Breathwork is a great way to continue your inner child healing process.

It helps you to move beyond your thinking mind to get to a much deeper place.

Because the reality is that we can’t think our way out of our issues.

Instead, we need to go much deeper.

Inner child healing is powerful in a similar way to shamanic breathwork.

I highly recommend checking out this masterclass. It’s extraordinarily powerful.

Click here to watch the free video.

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Picture of Justin Brown

Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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