My Therapy Stories (#1) : Inner Child Wounds

Beginning 2020 with a very personal, monthly series, called My Therapy Stories. Let’s break the stigma!

With all the talk about mental health, I decided to put together a new series about my experiences with therapy. The first aspect of my story begins with inner child wounds from my time at school, and the ripple effects it had all the way through adulthood.

I hope to encourage more people to step up and take therapy as a lifestyle choice. And NOT something to look down upon. Let’s break the stigma!

DISCLAIMER : These stories aren’t always pleasant and they might trigger the parts of you that want to be healed too. But, I promise they have happy endings. And I hope these endings will inspire you. 🙂

Also, none of this is to disrespect or blame anyone. I am only recounting my experiences as a child, but also discussing how these experiences were healed.

How Schooling Affects Mental Health

My family and I stayed in the United States for a few years. Then, we came back to India, the motherland, once I was in 5th grade.

vasundhra, family, childhood, grand canyon, inner child,
Our family trip to the Grand Canyon, from nearly 20 years ago!

Growing up, my school life in India really challenged my mental health. While in the USA, I was acing my classes, in India I wasn’t even in the top 10 (though yes, Indian classes are much bigger in ratio).

I often missed playing outside because even after school, I’d spend hours in tuition for all the subjects, catching up with the education system. There was a lot of culture shift. I struggled especially because I also had to learn to write Hindi from scratch, several years after other kids were already quite good at it.

Another difference? Getting told-off in Indian schools for my “poor handwriting” or “sloppy diagrams”.

I remember being asked to go home with the class topper’s notes and practice writing like her!

I didn’t realise things like these even mattered, that these qualified for reproaching, until I started feeling the embarrassment flush in my cheeks for it in front of the whole class.

Uptil this point, I had always been known for my sincerity and diligence, and had never been called-out so blatantly. Never being very sport-oriented to begin with, now, my academic intelligence also came into question.

Inner Child Therapy for School

Recently, in processing my childhood through Inner Child Healing work, I unblocked some strong feelings of incompetency and guilt.

I realized the reason I never cut myself slack after growing up, was because I felt bad for not being able to prove my worth in school. I felt like I needed to work even harder, and that’s what my college and work life saw – grinding, extreme grinding.

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An intense capture from one of the workshops I attended back in college. Haha!

My parents never once asked me to do better, but I felt the guilt of not being good enough. I felt like I was letting them down.

Who knew, these thoughts weren’t coming from within me, but from a different source? Overtime, kids start believing the thoughts to be their own. And bam! Down goes their self-esteem.

In fact in 10th grade, right before my Board exams, I had a panic attack and started hyperventilating. I had to be rushed to our physician, and she made us realize that I was overwhelming myself with performance pressure.

Hypnotherapy helped me uncover and heal this guilt, after a decade! I’m also slowly learning to allow myself time to relax and enjoy, and to stop taking life so ambitiously.

How Creativity Helps Mental Health

My creative and artistic side rarely got the encouragement it should have, the way US schools provided kids.

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My Idaho state project as a kid, where learning and creativity went hand-in-hand.

In fact an art teacher scared me to my very core, one year. She seemed crazy, a woman that yelled at us kids for forgetting our art supplies or for not painting as per her standards.

I, too, got a LOT of heat from her once, and I became deeply terrified.

There was another rather mean, intimidating dance teacher who often yelled at me in front of other classmates, because I was too shy to dance freely. I probably looked incompetent inspite being trained in the classical dance form, Bharatnatyam

Bharatnatyam, dance, vasundhra, solo performance, stage, tabla, Indian, Classical dance, inner child, creativity
One of my Bharatnatyam performances in Boise, when I was 8 years old.

Despite studying from an academically sound school, many of the teachers were daunting, and mean to kids except the ones that scored perfect grades (not me). The rest of us were constantly reminded how we’re not good enough.

It never occurred to me to discuss this at home, seeing that this was a culture that everyone faced with me. Don’t get me wrong, there were some really sweet teachers. But there weren’t that many. Nope.

Trying to cope with all this, I missed out on small hobbies, like completing my Bharatnatyam Arangetram and even smaller things like watching Harry Potter.

Inner Child Therapy for Creativity

Working on my childhood through therapy taught me to provide myself those experiences now, as a grown up, and to cherish my hobbies even if they are childish sometimes. In other words, ‘reparenting’ myself.

Only recently, in August 2019 did I, as a 25 year old adult, watch the Harry Potter series! What a classic.

These have all been tributes to my younger Self. Afterall, don’t we owe it to ourselves to live the quality of life we want to? It’s never too late!

This process is called reparenting.

Healing is also how I gained the confidence to dance front-row for my Salsa performance in the office. And it was what empowered me to perform a Bharatnatyam-fusion at my engagement, whose video you can watch below.

I didn’t have that kind of confidence growing up. My heart was always pounding even though I had done several stage performances before. But now I do feel relaxed and capable of being carefree while on stage. And I’m proud of myself for coming this far! 🙂 

I also continue to expose myself to various art and recreation classes that keep my inner child happy and thriving. In case I ever do forget to be more child like, lady bugs always show up as my spirit animal, reminding me of the playfulness within me.

Concluding Thoughts on Therapy for Inner Child Healing

I didn’t have any of these memories consciously. To me, I felt like my childhood was rather relaxed and happy. You too, can heal using the strategies mentioned in this article like art therapy and hypnotherapy.

Sometimes, people might be hesitant or may not have the resources to receive one-on-one support. I’ve put together this resource to help you get started on reparenting your childhood wounds. And in case you’re the hesitant type, I highly encourage watching the video below!

When you go into healing modalities that open up your subconscious mind, it turns out, you can uncover a lot of hidden pain that at the end is the reason your personality and choices are the way they are.

For me, spirituality and psychology have been a blend in my healing. They have both equally and substantially provided to my happiness quotient.

As Spirituality teaches us, we may not be responsible for what happens to us, but we alone are accountable for our healing.

So, the best thing that happened to me was learning how to forgive each and every teacher, because they did teach me a lot, even if it wasn’t the kind of lessons my parents enrolled me for.


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26 thoughts on “My Therapy Stories (#1) : Inner Child Wounds”

  1. This is such a great share. It takes such a huge courage to share this and it helps more people. Thank you for always putting yourself out there in order to help others

  2. When I was younger, I found refuge in the opportunity to release that writing offered. This art form has become a medium that I brought with me as I grew up. I believe that children (and grown ups) ought to be a given a means of self-expression.

    I have never been in therapy although I am curious of the existence of hidden emotions from my past. God bless you on your journey.

  3. I’m glad someone finally talks about our inner child, I love to dance, paint or color to let off steam but I am told that they are useless things that I should focus on the real important things in life. But for me these are also the important things in life

  4. School is too blame in so many cases of children’s unhappiness and anxiety. I know that these days the systems are different and there is a will to change the way children are taught, but when I was growing up, every student was graded on the same scale. It didn’t matter if they were good at math or at arts, they had to know everything. And of course that affects a child’s mental health, especially when they don’t understand math, or when they are pressured by the way school ranks children…

  5. I’m glad when people talk about mental health, as I feel like we are all dealing in our own ways. I have noticed that so many teachers in elementary schools are much kinder and more understanding than I remember, so hopefully something has changed!

  6. I see kids here in Japan going to different kinds of schools — swimming, cram school, English school — but never having time to be kids. It is so sad because like what you parents believe, Japanese parents want the best for their kid but it is way too much exceptions and don’t want them to have mistakes.

  7. I find crafts and reading to be extremely helpful when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. When I get overwhelmed I find that coloring is pretty relaxing.

  8. Finding your inner child truly does help. I hope that I am fostering healthy self-esteem for my kids. Sometimes I feel like I expect too much of them.

  9. Thank you fro sharing that story. It is never easy to share how we feel we are not enough. But our inner child healing starts right there. Admitting we have those feelings. And knowing others have this feelings as well.
    I felt so many times I am not enough in my life. And I tried to run away from those feelings, being ashamed of not being good enough. Until one day i realised that being enough is something what I simply am. No matter what I do. No matter who I am. I am always doing my best as I can in that moment. And that is good enough.
    Good luck on your journey ❤

  10. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s very inspiring. I definitely still have some work to do with my inner child. I was bullied at school and have had therapy around that. Now you have me thinking about some of the teachers and their impact on me too. Looking forward to your post on reparenting!

    1. Inner child work really shifts your life in deeper ways, I hope you’re able to uncover a lot more and thus experience profound healing 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. Thanks for your sweet comment!

  11. First… I want to like this article… but my logins are not working. Second… this is brave, this takes courage, and this article shows your compassion for the child inside you, but also for those that may need to express that same compassion to the child within themselves.

    You are doing good things. Great things. It may be for you to create the love for the child you once were. I will do my part to create love for you and your family as they are manifested now.

    Thank you for this article.

  12. I am so so happy that you are here trying to break the stigma around therapy. I know you & I have talked about my own struggles of when I first started therapy and it is indeed a lifestyle…I’m so happy to have met a like minded individual as yourself through this online community that I feel blogging brings. 💙

  13. As a psychology graduate and someone reading masters of science in mindfulness I think this quote says it all about your resilience “therapy as a lifestyle choice”. To Acknowledge one’s past hurts especially those that come out from us being shamed when we were children requires courage and great strength. What I would like to add to this is that as reflected in your writing our bad experiences or sufferings can be transformed and transcended. And if taken into our stride can actually help us grow and make us a better person. I also like the underlining streak of compassion tangibly expressed towards yourself while reading about your life experience.

    1. Thank you so much Clayton. It’s not easy to share such personal experiences, but it is essential to see what transformation it can bring. And I’m glad that came through my writing! Hope this reaches whoever it needs to. 🙏

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