Reparenting Yourself to Ease Anxiety

Mar 10, 2023

Therapist doing online therapy Telehealth

Do you have trouble saying “no,” expressing your feelings, and meeting your needs in relationships? Are you overwhelmed by shame, guilt, and resentment? Are you overly self-critical, believing you don’t deserve love or success? Do you ponder past mistakes and missed opportunities? Are you constantly worried about almost everything in your life?

If you feel stuck in old, unproductive patterns that don’t serve you, this might be a sign that you need to heal parts of yourself. Learning how to reparent yourself could be helpful if you struggle with overwhelming worry, self-limiting beliefs, boundaries, and relationship issues.

What Does It Mean to Reparent Yourself

Reparenting yourself involves addressing your needs in a way your parents did not do when you were a child. It is about treating yourself with the care, love, and compassion you deserve.

Our anxieties often stem from our earliest experiences. We all have an “inner child,” regardless of our age. An inner child relates to our personality and the accumulation of our previous experiences and memories, significantly influencing our development, health, and well-being.

As children, we rely on our parents or caregivers to meet our basic needs and offer secure attachment, clear boundaries, autonomy, and the opportunity to express our needs and feelings. These early relationships shape how things will be for the rest of our lives because, even as adults, we unconsciously accept our parents’ perspective as our own and keep viewing ourselves through their eyes. Unfortunately, this often means seeing ourselves as “not good enough.”

So, if our parents do not provide us with the emotional support we require as children, this could affect how we think and feel about ourselves as adults, form relationships, and meet our needs.

Why Is It Important to Reparent Yourself?

How your parents treated you as a child influenced how you relate to yourself and others.

Inner child work can help address your unmet childhood needs, trauma, or attachment wounds. Also, learning how to reparent yourself can assist you in accepting your feelings, caring for them, and comforting the child. This concern for your inner child will instill self-compassion in your adult self, allowing you to meet your needs in ways your parents did not.

So, as soon as you start the process of healing your inner child, you will also begin the process of building deeper relationships with both yourself and other people.

How to Heal by Reparenting Yourself

Working with a therapist is the best way to learn how to reparent yourself to ease anxiety. In addition, therapy can provide a secure environment in which to begin the process of healing your inner child. Here are some reparenting strategies that you might want to develop.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries is something we learn from our parents. So, for example, you might think that rules and boundaries do not apply to you and that you are free to do whatever you want if your parents had few or no rules when you were growing up, which is a perception that might cause problems in your adult relationships.

On the other hand, if you grew up in a family with many rules and expectations, you might have trouble setting healthy limits and saying “no” as an adult.

Reparenting yourself may help you overcome feelings of shame, guilt, perfectionism, and resentment associated with setting boundaries, allowing you to determine which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.

Learn to Treat Yourself with Compassion

To heal your inner child, treat it with love and empathy. Self-compassion can teach you to understand, support, and care for yourself. According to Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion means being as kind to ourselves as we would be to a close friend.

Affirmations can be a great way to overcome self-destructive thoughts and relieve negative feelings while fostering self-compassion and self-love.

Listen to Your Inner Child with No Judgment

Pay close attention to what your inner child has to say. Use journaling to allow your inner child to voice all the hurt, fear, insecurity, shame, and rage that have been suppressed for so long.

Journaling can help you revisit your childhood memories and let your adult self confront your inner child with concerns you’ve ignored. This could help you understand the roots of your adult self-judgment, unhealthy behavior patterns, and anxiety.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Guided meditation for healing your inner child is an open-hearted presence that can help watch your thoughts and feelings as they come up without judging them.

Mindfulness meditation can help you connect with your inner child without judgment, explore and be with your difficult feelings, and let them go without giving in to the past.

This ability to notice and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them could help you let go of anxiety, treat yourself with more compassion, and heal your inner child.

As a marriage and family therapist, I help individuals and couples reconnect with themselves. Together, we will explore your past and create a plan that will allow you to heal your inner child, and regain control of your emotional wellbeing.  Let’s connect soon so we can set up a consultation.

Filippo M. Forni, LMFT is a sex and couples therapist in Los Angeles, CA. His goal is to provide high-quality and effective goal-oriented sex and couples psychotherapy to the Los Angeles and Century City community. He has extensive training in sexuality and multiculturalism and serves as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology.