Happy Asian woman with long hair sitting on a swing.

Decades after psychologist Carl Jung reportedly coined the term “inner child,” it resonates more than ever. More than just a trendy catchphrase, inner child healing can improve self-awareness, help you face old insecurities, keep you from repeating unhealthy patterns, and promote wonder and optimism in these challenging times.

These unique women share why nurturing their inner child in adulthood keeps them creative, youthful, and genuinely happy – and how anyone can do it, too.

Befriend Your Inner Child

Generations of poets, painters, , and modern-day content creators know the secret to beating creative block: collaborating with their inner child.

Illustrator, tattoo artist, and author Wiji Lacsamana shares, “My inner child holds my core joys, sadness, and wonder. If you want to get to know yourself, you really have to dig and get to know your inner child.”

A prolific artist whose whimsical yet dreamy illustrations grace everything from tattoos to her Quiet Mystic tarot cards, Wiji attests, “Embracing my inner child is a practice I try to bring into my art because the inner child is honest and vulnerable.”

Whether you are creating masterpieces or connecting with people, it all boils down to authenticity. “If you want to be seen and understood, you have to be comfortable with being vulnerable. It goes the same for relationships – for anyone to truly see you, you have to show the real you.”

Dedicated to her own inner child healing, she recently enrolled in a year-long manifestation workshop (by @tobemagnetic) that includes journaling prompts and deep imagination practices. “The belief is, (until you heal) you won’t be able to manifest what you want and need because we are trying to manifest from our subconscious, also known as your, our inner child."

She adds, "If, as a child, you felt like you weren’t good enough, chances are, you still carry that belief in you somehow. So, the best way is to face it, tackle it, and say goodbye to those beliefs that do not serve you well.”

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Recreate Your Happy Place

For many adults, returning to childhood favorites is a way of creating their own safe, happy space in the world.

Stylist Jessica Cabuay has taken her love for Sanrio to the next level with an extensive Hello Kitty collection documented in her Instagram account @hellokittyismyguiltypleasure. “It brings pure joy because it reminds me of when Gift Gate was just my kind of candy store.” She adds, “It’s expensive to get all characters with so many collections and collaborations dropping, so I had to zero in on just one, and Hello Kitty is a classic!”

What began as unintentional stationery and sticker collecting with her sisters evolved into hardcore Hello Kitty hoarding. She admits to downplaying this passion when she started building a career in fashion because it started to seem impractical and even embarrassing.

But when Jessica , it was a great excuse to start collecting again. “It became a mother-and-daughter activity to hunt for kiddie meal toys or attend Hello Kitty events. Through my daughter Phoenix, I learned that being in tune with your inner child is what makes you feel young!”

“It hit me when she once said, ‘This is the best day ever, Mommy!’ That made me pause and think that it shouldn’t take a lot to make us happy… that I don’t have to wait for special moments to come by to make me giddy,” Jessica shares.

When her brother passed away in 2019, she inherited his personal collection of Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel memorabilia that he collected from when they were younger. “His children gave them to me. I wanted to cry, but at the same time, it made me happy. It was their way of saying thank you for being there for them and sharing memories of my brother when he was alive. Collecting and appreciating all the cute details of Hello Kitty toys helped me heal.”

Who knew kitty-cat nostalgia could be so healing? Jessica adds, “Psychologically, I also had to teach myself not to get guilty when buying Hello Kitty. If it’s food for the soul, if it’s fueling the inner child in you, it’s super worth it!” She shares that she used to keep her Hello Kitty account secret. "It was my escape, and I didn’t want to be judged. But now, I’m ok with sharing it.”

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Be Serious About Having Fun

Corporate consultant Kaye Tolentino (not her real name) is literally in the business of play. “Part of my job is designing and executing experiential activities for corporate team buildings and conventions. It’s a lot of mixed-brain (left AND right) work. And part of the process is having a healthy sense of play because we have to answer the question, ‘What will be fun for our clients?’ Often, if it’s fun for our team, it will likely be fun for our clients, too.”

Beyond corporate team building, Kaye observes that nurturing the inner child has become increasingly important because people across all generations are taking steps to , especially due to the pandemic.

“The term ‘inner child’ for me comes up in talks about acknowledging mindsets I’ve grown up with and where I learned them. Often, it’s something I picked up as a child or something my parents taught me,” Kaye shares. Phrases like “heal your inner child” or “acknowledge your inner child” often mean addressing ineffective/limiting beliefs/mindsets you may have as an adult. “Often, solutions I see involve rebuilding the same curiosity, focus, and sense of play as a child.”

How does she nurture her own inner child? “I’m in my, and I have a lot of hobbies others might consider ‘too young’ ha ha!” These youthful passions include journaling, scrapbooking, watching anime, and listening and dancing to K-pop. “Fun fact: In South Korea, what we call ‘’ is known as ‘idol music’ or music usually consumed by middle schoolers!” Nevertheless, Kaye recommends indulging in whatever brings you joy. “These all help me de-stress and not take myself too seriously.”

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Sense of Wonder

For award-winning children’s book author Carla Pacis, maintaining a sense of wonder is an essential part of her vocation and a self-preserving practice in these challenging times.

“For a child, every day is a chance to explore and experience the world. When children play, they do so with joy. I try to have joy in my life through grief, frustration, and anger.”

Ever youthful at age 66, Carla takes inspiration from the wide-eyed curiosity of children and tries to see things as children would – as if encountering everything for the first time. “I am in awe of nature and find great comfort in my pets. I am in awe of human endeavors like art or music – and K-dramas too and often wonder at their creation.”

She adds, “Like children, I like to imagine and create, to paint and write and sometimes dance. And at the end of the day, like children, I get a – or try to, anyway.” Children are our best teachers, indeed.

If inner child healing seems a lot like self-care, that’s because it is. Whether it’s finally addressing childhood insecurities and traumas or honoring childhood joys and wonder, our well-being as adults hinges on embracing the child within. How have you connected with your inner child today?