Each one of us has an inner child. This is the part of our personality which yearns to be lighthearted and innocent. It never grows old but it continually grows. Carl Jung noted that this piece of the human psyche exists in each and every one of us and it interferes with or enhances our life choices and behaviors on a regular basis. He called it the child archetype.
The child archetype is essential to our survival. It holds within it our earliest feelings of security and safety and we carry that sense with us throughout our lives. In a positive sense, our inner child balances out our responsibilities by reminding us to be playful and fun. But when our sense of security is threatened or we perceive fear or potential discomfort, our inner child takes over and exhibits negative characteristics.
Just as with every aspect of our personalities, when we become aware of the actions of our inner child and embrace it fully as a piece of ourselves, then we can integrate it into our lives in the most positive ways. The first step to this is understanding your inner child archetype.
There are six types of inner child archetypes. Each one carries with it positive and negative characteristics which become apparent throughout our lives, from birth to death. While everyone experiences aspects of each child archetype at some point or another, our true inner child is represented by the archetype which resonates with you most often throughout your lifetime.
The orphan child archetype, sometimes referred to as the abandoned child, exhibits itself as one who tends to be independent throughout their life. Often times having a history of feeling lonely, emotionally abandoned, or literally orphaned, the orphan child prefers to learn things on their own, avoiding groups, and conquering their fears themselves.
In a negative light, this child archetype may push others away to their own detriment, isolating themselves and not allowing loved ones in. They also may overcompensate by continuously seeking a surrogate family in order to fill the emotional void.
The wounded child archetype holds memories of an abusive or traumatic past. They may have experienced a great deal of physical and emotional abuse over the course of their lives, often times at the hands of more than one person. This archetype, when balanced and accepted, can awaken us to a great depth of compassion for others who are suffering from abusive situations. Their focus becomes one of forgiveness and light, helping other wounded children through their traumas.
In a negative light, however, this child archetype may remain stuck in a repeating abusive pattern with partners, bosses, and friendships. They grow accustomed to being a victim and blame all of their problems on their dysfunctional past.
The eternal child archetype is forever young. Exhibiting classic childlike characteristics, this archetype resists growing up, continuously looking for fun and playful ways to look at life. A Peter Pan of sorts, this type determines to remain young in mind, body, and spirit, and encourages others to do the same.
In a negative light, this child may become irresponsible and unreliable, incapable of taking on adult tasks. They might struggle with accepting the personal boundaries of others and become overly dependent on loved ones to take care of them.
The magical child is the enchanted part within us that sees a world of possibilities. Often carefree, this child archetype looks for the beauty and wonder within all things, believing that everything is possible. They are dreamers through and through.
However, when not balanced, this magical child archetype can grow to become pessimistic and depressed. Their beliefs are squashed out and they become cynical of things they once spent hours fantasizing about. They may also retreat into a fantasy world, delving into role-playing games, books, or films, losing touch with reality and taking little action in their own lives.
The divine child archetype is associated with innocence, purity, and almost god-like qualities. They have a belief in redemption and are often deeply connected to the divine. This child archetype may appear mystical and surreal. Few choose this archetype for themselves as they do not believe they have these capabilities within them, but the divine child may be lying dormant within you, awaiting balance in order to reach your truest potential.
Its shadow characteristics may feel more familiar. This archetype is often overwhelmed with negative energies and feels incapable of defending themselves. They may become easily enraged and unable to control themselves when faced with evil, making them lose control and frighten themselves.
The nature child archetype has always felt deeply connected to plants, animals, and the earth around them. They feel the most comfortable when they are surrounded by furry friends and may have the ability to communicate with nature. This archetype is strongly drawn to animal spirit guides and dreams of them often.
The shadow side of the nature child lashes out physically at those around them. They might become abusive to animals, plants, and even people. Despite their deep connection, the shadow animal child uses nature as a punishment rather than a joy.
Everyone can relate to each of these archetypes at one point or another, but one in particular will make itself known to you continuously throughout your life. This one will be your true child archetype. As you grow to recognize its strengths and weaknesses and watch how this inner child manifests in your life, you will begin to balance your child archetype and see its playful positivity once again.