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Exploring the Inner Trails

Tonya Cox

May 21, 2024

When my oldest daughter was two years old, we spent a month living in a camping trailer with my parents and youngest brother, traveling around some western states, including beautiful, lush Oregon. 

We went hiking quite often, and it was always amazing to me how my daughter had such boundless energy! She turned two on our trip, and she could out-hike most of us. The kicker was that she wasn’t just walking the trail, she would often kangaroo-jump large sections of it! It was incredible to see her pave the way, her little blonde head bobbing. Luckily, the trails we went on were well traveled, so she could easily find her way. Reflecting on that experience, of my two-year-old guiding us down the paths, makes me wonder: what trails did my two-year-old self blaze?

As human beings, our brains are always trying to make sense of the world around us and our experiences in it. It’s our brain’s way of trying to anticipate life so as to keep us safe. This pattern of interpreting our world begins as soon as we exist. We start creating stories and thought patterns, and we even begin storing away emotional wounds. 

Often, when we have experienced pain or triggers, we can now reflect back to the first time we experienced that pain, finding that a younger version of ourselves had been holding on to that pain for a long time. That inner child found a path to walk in the forest, and we kept walking that path for years and years until we could bring our awareness back to it. 

The good news is that discovering this well-worn path does not mean we are doomed to keep coming back to it. In fact, knowing it is there allows us to honor that wounded inner child, to reassure him/her, and then look around and create a new path. 

This process is an essential piece of having a better relationship with ourselves. If we want to be more intentional and less reactive, if we want to have a sense of self-trust, if we want to be at peace within, we need to engage in the work of honoring ALL of ourselves. All the pieces of us. This isn’t to say that we have to find and heal all the inner child wounds we have in order to achieve the relationship with ourselves that we want. The act of simply engaging in the process reassures our brain, and our past wounded selves, that we will be found, that we are willing to do the work, and that we are willing to see and hear and to understand. 

There is so much power in being seen and building self-trust. Because the reality is: how can we offer that to others if we can’t give it to ourselves? We hope you’ll see the value of inner child work, and if you need support, we’d love to join you.

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