Why do some women (or men) stay, when others see the red flags and veer away?   That’s because we get in life what we think we are worth.   If we think we are not good enough, unloveable, then we attract those who treat us as unworthy of being loved.  But, if that person is as insecure and needy as we are, then we can place all our attention and focus on them.  By making it our mission to rescue them, we don’t have to face our insecurities.  It’s our smoke screen to avoid facing our inner demons.

A relationship like this is never going to be a healthy one.   Zero self-esteem often goes hand in hand with a fear of abandonment. This fear comes from somewhere in our childhood, when our emotional needs are not fully met.  Being with someone more screwed up than we are, gives us a guarantee they are never going to leave us.  We won’t be abandoned again.  But that’s an illusion.

Someone as insecure and needy as we can't meet our emotional needs Click To Tweet

Unless we believe we are worth loving, we won’t allow anyone into our lives who is capable of doing so in a healthy way.  We have to break the cycle.   If not, even if we don’t go back to them, we’ll go straight into the next relationship that has those familiar patterns to us.  Another abusive or dysfunctional one.   We need to hug our frightened inner child.

Nurturing your inner child

It’s time now to learn how to love yourself. That starts with nurturing your inner child. Click To Tweet

Think back to a time when you still had innocence as a child.  Picture yourself before you put that protective armour around you.   When you felt confident and free.  I see a child who was full of energy, always giggling, singing and dancing, who was confident and free and had a life full of promise ahead of her.

Although my overriding memories of my childhood are happy ones.  When I was young, if I had an opinion of my own, my mother told me I was wrong.  She’d shut me down, telling me I was ‘too young to understand and she was too busy to explain it to me! Tell me I was being too sensitive, if I showed any emotions.  If I calmly stood my ground, she wouldn’t hear my side. But get angry and say ‘why do my daughters always argue with me!’

Or she’d declare: ‘You’re your father’s daughter’!  In other words, I inherited the things she didn’t like about me from him.   I pushed all emotions deep inside.  Besides, if my mother was telling me I was wrong, I couldn’t trust my gut instincts anymore.  So, I learnt to ignore them and the pain I felt inside.  My mother dominated my father and he was also unavailable emotionally to me.

When I transported myself back to that little girl, I cried and cried. I saw this frightened little child.  This one who tried to please everyone, who swallowed her own feelings, to keep the peace at all times. The giggling, energetic one was still there somewhere deep inside, but whose spirit was now crushed.

This also led to a release of anger for the first time in my life: how could my ex have been violent towards her?  Why didn’t my parents protect me?   It was like I stood up for myself, for the first time.   This wasn’t good enough.   They all let me down.

It was taking that child in my arms and hugging her.   Telling her, ‘it’s okay’.  ‘You weren’t to blame’.

I looked at her now with appreciation for her ability to always be positive, to see the good in others.  Her core values were admirable.  She was still there in me.   And she had survived and found the courage to leave an abusive relationship.  She’d found inner strength she never knew she had.

It was time to start to love and appreciate her.  What do you love and appreciate about yourself? What do you see?

Learning to love yourself is the most important thing you will ever do, as trust me everything follows from that.  As painful and as hard as this is, once you understand where your insecurities came from, why you have low self-esteem and face those fears down, your insecurities will start to melt away.  And little by little you begin to love yourself.

I started by doing one nice thing for myself every day.  I read every book I could lay my hands on about the dynamics of dysfunctional and abusive relationships, co-dependency and building self-esteem.  Then I had to teach her to trust her instincts again.  To set healthier boundaries.  To learn to say ‘no, that isn’t good enough for me’ when someone crossed them.

You only attract someone equal to what you think you are worth.  When you work hard on yourself to build that right up, abusive people, who previously saw a chink in your armour, will see you and run a mile. They’ll see that you know they’re not good enough for you.  That they cannot push your boundaries down.

Those people who are self-confident and don’t need you to rescue them, will no longer terrify you.  And among them will be the one, like I have since found. The person who treats you with kindness and respect. The one who meets your emotional needs and brings out the best in you. The guy (or girl) who allows you to be vulnerable, but safe. They’ll never use that vulnerability as a weapon against you.

Sure, they could walk away any day.  But you’ll no longer fear that. You’ll just figure it’s not meant to be.  You’ll still be there. And you’ll be enough to meet all your own emotional needs, with or without a partner.   You were always enough.

Are you avoiding facing your inner fears?  Ready to nurture your inner child?  Let me know in the comments below.

Are your relationships – past or present – good enough for you?  Do you deserve better?  Try my FREE QUIZ to find out!

Written by Vivian McGrath

Vivian McGrath is a TV Executive Producer who makes documentaries for major US, UK and Australian broadcasters.  She is also a survivor of domestic violence.  Her book ‘Unbeatable (How I Left a Violent Man)’ – her story of surviving abuse to finding success in love and life – will be published soon.  She hopes this blog will help others to become strong, fearless and successful too.  Find out more about Vivian Here.

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4 thoughts on “Why your inner child needs a hug!

  1. Hi Vivian,
    Great article but my problem was that I thought I was OK. It came as a gigantic surprise after my divorce from an abusive, narcissistic ex that I wasn’t OK. I walked around with the notion that everyone was like me, and that I did have self worth and a good sense of self. It was that abusive relationship that woke me to the idea that I had some major issues….that I”m still working on by the way. Maybe someday I’ll meet a good man and know what a healthy relationship is like.

    1. You could be describing me Susan. I thought I was too, but then crashed hard after I left him and the initial euphoria of freedom wore off. That’s partly why we go into these relationships. If we have someone we can rescue, who we think is damaged or needy and ‘needs us’, then we don’t have to look at our own demons inside. Plus, with all the chaos and drama of a relationship like that we suppress our emotions and are numbed to them. So when we leave it we are still for the first time and have to face ourselves. I was so shocked to find an insecure little girl inside me. I always thought I was the strong one (look for my posts re ‘I thrived on chaos and drama, but being still healed me’ and ‘I always thought I was the strong one, I was wrong’). But the best thing is once you identify this you know exactly the thing you need to work on to heal. It takes time and little step by little step. You’ll get there, as you’re going in the right direction. Once you find that self-love and inner worth, healthy people who will respect you will come into your orbit and narcissists will veer away. Stay strong and thanks for reading my posts x

  2. I can identify. I attracted someone who was, in a lot of ways, needier than I was but in other ways was quite a remarkable person. She extricated herself from a religious cult and an abusive marriage. I felt that she was someone who needed my help, which she actually did, but, like you said, I focussed on her as a way to avoid facing myself, even though in words I said I wanted to find myself..
    As for my inner child, I can’t remember anytime that I was happy and carefree, though. So, I don’t know what that feels like. I was always extremely shy and fearful as a kid. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still at the core feel unloveable and unworthy.
    I like the idea of a support group, so I am going to see if I can find one in my area…
    Thanx for a great article!

    1. Sorry to hear that Glenn, but I am glad you recognise that that feeling of being unlovable is the key to why we are attracted to relationships that aren’t good for us. Great to hear you are looking for a support group. I hope you can find the right one, filled with positive people who all have the same goal. Not to wallow in being a victim, but to pro-actively work in a positive way to finding self esteem and confidence. Stay strong and keep walking towards the light.

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