How healing my inner child helped me stop self-harming

Charlie looks into how their self-harm was rooted in childhood pressures, highlighting the healing power of nurturing the inner child’s needs.

Written by Charlie Harney

Last Updated: Dec-08-23


TW // This piece discusses self-harm. Please look after yourself if you choose to read on. Our text support service details are listed below.

I was a self-critical child. I always strived for perfection even if it meant burning myself out. Obviously, this isn’t healthy behaviour and I think it was this unconscious normalisation of self-harming that started my journey.

I held myself to impossible standards to be who I believed people wanted me to be. There was never any purposeful external pressure placed on me but I craved identity. I was undiagnosed autistic, and my whole identity was formed by how others perceived me. 

I was the gifted child, smart beyond my years and I hated it. I hated how my peers looked shocked when I got a question wrong, I hated how they always expected 100% on all my tests and I hated how my growth was a failure if it was anything short of perfection. 

My childhood was stolen from me by these expectations. I forced myself into a box I couldn’t fit and I hated myself for it. It’s fair to say as I grew older, my inner child was hurt.

This showed itself in the form of self-harming. I was supposed to be perfect, every failure meant that I deserved to hurt, it was as simple as that. Many therapists told me that I was too hard on myself, I knew that but I couldn’t stop. All I could think was that little me would be disappointed. 

Being the adult I needed as a child

It was this relationship I had with pleasing my inner child that eventually became the thing that healed me. 

My amazing counsellor worked with me to heal my inner child. Since my childhood was one of achievement rather than being a child. There is an unhealed part of me that needs the validation and support that’s normally only given to a child. It was vital that I became the adult that I needed as a child.

When I notice myself belittling myself or critiquing myself for what I view as failure and my urge to self-harm takes over, I take a moment to imagine myself as a child. I picture this little child telling me what happened. When I see it from the perspective of a child who simply made a mistake, it’s easier to be nicer to myself. 

We deserve the love that we’d give to ourselves as children. Focusing on this has been the key to controlling my self-harming. 

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