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Working With Stuffed Animals to Heal the Wounded Inner Child

“Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to you,”

Women who have survived childhood trauma often have many negative core beliefs. As very young children they may have been abused or neglected and the wounds and low self-esteem follow them into adolescence and adulthood.

All of us have a wounded child because all of us had experiences in our childhood that made us uncomfortable. Because we were usually taught not to express our true feelings, the wounded child has many uncomfortable feelings locked inside that want to find expression. The wounded child will act out these uncomfortable feelings in life stories unless it is allowed to express itself so that the wounds can heal.

Because we keep the feelings of the wounded child buried inside of us for many years, it is often difficult to reach the feelings and release them. But if you make a conscious effort to access the feelings and experience them one more time, then you can go back in time and release them and change the endings to your life stories.

For example, if you were emotionally abused as a child, then you are probably creating life stories in the present that have elements of abuse in them. There is a technique you can use to go back into the memory, re-experience the feelings then work through them. One of the ways to do this is to speak, from the child’s point of view to the parent who abused you. You can hold a teddy bear for support and tell the parent how you felt. Then you can imagine him or her (or both) apologizing to you. A great supportive healing modality to this exercise could be EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Tapping or Experiential Therapy session.

A stuffed animal is meant to represent your inner child and it can also be a companion. The experience of treating a stuffed animal in the way you wished you had been treated as a child is a gesture toward self-care and helps to learn how to nurture others.

Here’s how to do it!

First, find yourself a teddy bear or any other a stuffed animal that feels good to hold. The size will vary with your size — the larger you are, the larger the bear should be. Once you have a teddy bear, you will want to hold it and use it in your own special way. You might also like to try one of the following exercises:

Ask yourself as you begin working with your newly chosen stuffed animal: "How do you want to be treated?" The first step is for you to give some thought to the ways you would like to be nurtured. You may have never experienced such tender care as a child, so you may have to imagine it or think of examples they’ve seen in other families or on TV. Maybe your desire is to not be yelled at or hit and you can learn to change that to the more affirmative — being loved. You will naturally think of more things as you continue onward.

Give your stuffed animal a name. Make it a real companion that you can talk to and confide in. Yes, you may feel silly doing this at first, but no one is going to know about it except you. It may take some practice, but after a while, you’ll be able to connect to your wounded child.

When you feel uncomfortable or unhappy, tell the teddy bear how you feel. Talk out loud. Use the phrase I feel _______.

Hold the teddy bear in one hand and let it hang by your side as you walk — the way young children do. The idea is to rekindle feelings that you had as a child and by acting as if you are a child, you’ll be able to do it.

Let your body express the love you have for your inner child by holding your stuffed animal, rocking, humming, stroking, doing anything you’d do to comfort an actual child. Don’t let any critical voices tell you that it’s silly to rock and hum a lullaby. It’s not silly–it is valuable practice in loving yourself.

Sleep holding on to your teddy bear.

Any time you are feeling sad or uncomfortable, lie down and cuddle up with your teddy bear. Close your eyes and imagine that you are traveling inside of your body. Try to feel where you are experiencing the discomfort. Say, out loud, I feel so uncomfortable. Try to define the feeling. (I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel alone, etc.) This is an effective release technique.

Care for it daily.

Taking the stuffed animal on as something they are responsible for gives a sense of what it is like to be taken care of. They treat it like it’s a part of them and there are opportunities all day long to be nurturing.

Carry it everywhere. 

You can carry it around everywhere, never abandoning it or leaving it behind. It is also a chance to learn responsibility.

Sleep with it.

Tucking the animal into bed symbolize ensuring that it is safe and looked after, but it also brings comfort.

Give it a positive affirmation

Dialog with the stuffed animal and the inner child are part of the experience. Part of the communication must be a positive mantra like: “Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to you,” or “I love you just the way you are.” Telling the stuffed animal it’s not alone reinforces the idea that they are not, either.

Releasing feelings is often difficult and takes practice, especially if you were not allowed to express your feelings as a child. In order to stimulate the release process, you might want to try one of the following affirmations:

I release my fear of my feelings
I give myself permission to feel my feelings and release them
I release all pain and memory of pain
I give my wounded child permission to express itself
I release all pain and memory of pain
I give myself permission to love myselfI release my shame and embarrassment
I release my fear of self-expression

You can repeat the affirmations any time during the day or during meditation. A good time to do affirmations is while you are driving, walking or doing mindless tasks such as washing the dishes.


Core Emotional Healing Self Study created by Elicia Miller

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