You often hear about healing your inner child, the youngest and tenderest part of you… but what about your inner teenager?
This part of you sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. But your inner teen needs loving care, compassion, and healing as well.
This article explores some of the ways in which your inner teenager might be wounded and why it’s important to reconnect to this part of you.
I’ll also give you a sequence of powerful journaling and self-reflection prompts to begin dialoguing with your inner teen. Asking these questions honestly and lovingly will help you uncover areas that need healing.
Reconnecting with Your Inner Teenager
This post was inspired by my recent rediscovery of my adolescent journals.
I had a wonderful English teacher in middle school who encouraged me to start journaling during a time of great transition in my life (my parents and I were relocating from my native Argentina to another country). I’ve been keeping journals ever since.
As I was cleaning out some closets this year, I found a pile of journals written during my teenage years – age 14 thru 17.
So I sat down on the floor to read a couple of entries, and ended up reading all of these journals over the next few weeks. Doing so was a powerful exercise for me.
First, it gave me some clearer perspective on events that happened in the past – how I actually felt and processed them (or didn’t fully process them) at the time.
Second, I rediscovered my teenage magic: a fiery, adolescent energy of rebelliousness, desire for authenticity and truth, a challenging of the status quo, and a strong sense of excitement and optimism about the future.
Many times reading these journals, I cringed (lol of course!) but I also smiled. A lot.
I smiled at my teenage self. I smiled at her adventurousness and willingness to put herself out there. I smiled at her uncompromising honesty. I smiled at her teenage obsessions and crushes and idealistic point of view.
I also teared up reading about my teenage self’s difficult experiences and trauma. I felt a deep sense of compassion for her, and a desire to help her feel safe now.
How the Inner Teenager Gets Wounded
There are so many ways in which our teenage selves can become wounded. Some key examples:
- Feeling rejected or ostracized. This is such a painful experience, and one that most of us faced as teenagers. Whether we were actually rejected or simply perceived that others were rejecting us doesn’t matter. Feeling rejected is a traumatic experience that cuts deep. And that feeling of not being good enough, or being weird or different in a bad way, can linger for many years… even decades. It might be that your inner teen still doesn’t feel safe in showing her/his/their authentic self, passions, and interests for fear of being rejected again.
- Being bullied (at school or at home). This is a deeply traumatic experience as well, and unfortunately too common. Not feeling safe at school (or at home, or both) rewires our inner teen’s nervous system to be on high alert at all times as we scan for danger in the environment. This can have lasting effects on our mental health. It disrupts our ability to feel safe in the world and in our bodies.
- Major life changes during adolescence. Experiencing your parents’ divorce, the death of a loved one, moving around a lot (or even just once), or changing schools during those crucial teenage years can all feel traumatic and leave a lasting impact on us.
- Being “parentified”/growing up too fast. Having to grow up too fast – for whatever reason – can be traumatic as well. This is especially true if we’re expected or required to take on an adult role for a missing parent or for a parent who is emotionally unstable/unavailable. This is a heavy burden for your inner teen to continue bearing.
- Growing up with a narcissistic parent. This is a huge topic (and worth exploring in therapy or healing work if this was your experience). Growing up with an abusive or narcissistic parent is detrimental on so many levels – physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physiologically. One of the biggest issues here is missing out on a safe, secure, emotionally healthy parent-child attachment. This can interfere with our ability to develop healthy and nurturing relationships both as teenagers and as adults.
Despite all of these potential areas of wounding, I also believe your inner teenager is extremely resilient.
Resilience is a quality that allows you to “bounce back”, to recover from difficulties and challenges, to process and release trauma without being frozen by it.
To be resilient means to be flexible, adaptable, elastic. To face challenges with the confidence and knowledge that you’re strong and you can make it to the other side – no matter what.
Although as teenagers we can feel so vulnerable, raw, and emotionally unstable (teen hormones!), I think there’s also a sense of sturdiness, rebelliousness, and defiance that can emerge during adolescence. A sense that we’re invincible, however delusional that might be!
In reconnecting with your inner teen, you can awaken this kind of magic again. This defiant or optimistic or exciting way of looking at the world.
It’s this magic that you can reclaim by working with and healing your inner teen.
The Healing Prompts
Use these 15 prompts to dialogue with your inner teenager and to become aware of what he/she/they might need.
To answer the prompts, my favorite options are:
- journal on them (one per day for 15 days)
- pull one Tarot or Oracle card for each prompt
- reflect on each prompt as you go for a walk or sit in nature (garden, park, beach, etc)
You can also use whatever other method best works for you.
- What really mattered to me as a teenager?
- In what ways did I rebel (or try to rebel) during adolescence?
- In what ways did I feel unable to rebel?
- How was I unique or different as a teenager?
- Which ideas – from society, family, or school – did I reject?
- What was the most difficult part of adolescence for me?
- How did I see myself as a teenager (what was my self-perception)?
- How did I relate to others?
- Am I still carrying any wounds from this period of my life?
- What kind of support/healing does my inner teen need now?
- What does my inner teen need to say?
- How would it serve me to reconnect to my inner teen?
- What power, magic, or helpful quality does my inner teen carry?
- How can I reawaken a sense of possibility and excitement about the future?
- How can I bring more passion and fiery purpose into my life?
I hope these prompts are helpful and illuminating as you reconnect with your inner teen. I’m wishing you lots of healing, growth, and unconditional compassion for this part of you.