5 Signs Your Inner Child Is Ruining Your Relationships

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Everyone has an inner child. It's the part of you that can be joyful, spontaneous, curious, and creative. It also can be filled with fear, anger, hurt, and insecurities, which can destroy relationships. 

If you think of your inner child beliefs primarily developing before the age of five, you can easily see how distorted beliefs can happen.

 Inner child work, sometimes referred to as shadow work, is designed to heal these distortions

RELATED: How To Nourish And Heal Your Inner Child

My inner child is coming out and it hurts my relationship

Your inner child beliefs are designed to keep you safe. They are a set of internal beliefs, believed to be facts, and determine how you fit into and safely interact with the world. 

You go through life interpreting and assigning meaning to every interaction you have with the world through this lens.

If your inner child misinterpreted an experience you had when you were younger, you may deem yourself as unloveable, not good enough, not deserving of good things, not safe, and the list goes on. 

Worse yet, a bad childhood can amplify these feelings. If you've struggled with abuse, neglect, violence, or substance abuse in your family, you may have even been told or displayed that you're not good. 

These remain as the filters you view relationships through, which often have negative effects on your present relationships.

Here are 5 signs your inner child is affecting your relationship.

1. You have a need for control.

Your inner child develops their own way of controlling situations to make you feel safe. You believe if you're in control, you have some sense of predictability of the outcome in any given situation.

You believe that with this control, you limit the possibility of painful outcomes. You may notice when plans suddenly change, or things come up that are beyond your control it can cause a sense of panic or anger.

This can destroy a healthy relationship leaving your loved ones feeling like you're controlling, you don't appreciate anything they do, and you can come off as overly critical. 

2. You take things personally.

Do you get your feelings hurt when other people say or do things? Do you take things personally? This is probably the most prevalent sign that a lot of people struggle with. 

It's often the cause of fights or arguments in relationships. You recognize this by the need to immediately get defensive.

People often struggle with this one and say, "But he said it was about me... or I never… or always do something." 

It's important to remember that how people treat you really has nothing to do with you. It's more about who they are and how they are feeling in that moment. It's truly a reflection of others. 

It's also important to realize is that how you treat others goes by the same rule. 

3. You feel shame.

Shame comes from a belief that you did something that goes against social construct. This is different than guilt where we know we did something specific that you need to correct.

Shame can develop if you're told repeatedly that you're doing something wrong. It can happen if you're bullied or harassed.

Shame can lead to feelings of worthlessness and having no value and, if chronic, can lead to depression. Shame is truly an inward belief and emotion. 

Feeling shame can cause you to pull away from intimate connections and not feel worthy of receiving. This leaves your partner feeling abandoned or frustrated that they cannot comfort you or make you feel better.

When you say, "my inner child is coming out" and it hurts your relationship, shame is a likely culprit because of the complex nature of the dynamic it causes. 

RELATED: The Healing Magic Of Inner-Child Work

4. You can't handle conflict.

Having a disagreement or conflict in any relationship can be unpleasant. Ideally, you get along and agree with one another. However, everyone is different.

You have your own opinions and that's totally OK and even desirable that you learn different viewpoints on how to do or perceive things. This sign shows up when you find yourself saying "yes" to things you do not want to do to avoid conflict.

It can also show up when someone doesn't agree with you, and you find yourself shutting down or feeling fearful. You may also get angry when you feel someone is challenging your opinions. 

Learning to disagree and "fight fairly" is a necessary skill to have in any relationship. 

Without this, it can lead to resentment of our partners and destroy the relationship.

5. You need validation. 

The need for validation is more simply put as seeking approval from others. When you were little, learning to walk, you take a few steps and turn around to check with your parent to see if you're doing it right.

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This is how you learn. If your inner child develops a strong sense of self, you validate yourself by believing you're good enough.

If this belief is distorted, you seek others' approval in ways from "Does this make me look fat?" to the need to show others what you did to gauge their reactions to see if it is "OK."

Without a strong sense of self, you can often feel anxious and uncertain about many things we do until others express their approval.

Although validating one another in a relationship can be a good thing, the need for continual validation can be exhausting to your partner and have you come off as needy.

Fortunately, you can keep your inner child in check in your relationships.

Realize that your inner child exists and incorporate the play, adventure, and curiosity you once had on a regular basis.

Self-care is also an essential way to show yourself and your inner child that you're worth it. It doesn't have to be extravagant — meditation, a simple bubble bath, massage, quiet time, reading, eating healthy, or exercising is sufficient.

Recognize that, sometimes, a harsh and critical inner voice is coming from the four-year-old you inside. Be kind to it. Being critical of yourself only reinforces any negative beliefs that they may have.

Just recognize in those moments that "my inner child is coming out, and it hurts my relationships because I'm not being kind enough to myself." 

Also, learn to re-parent your inner child by gently comforting their fears, teaching them that they are good enough, and that you love them.

Letting your partner be aware and understand your reactions while you heal your inner child is key. After all, their inner child is probably reacting to the situation too.

RELATED: To My Inner Child, I Will Never Let Go Of You

Carolyn C. Snyder LCSW is the Owner & Founder of C Snyder Counseling & Wellness as well as the author of Abundantly You - Harness the Magic & Heal the Hurts of Your Inner Child. For more information on her services and programs, visit her website.