Aspects & Traits of Shadow Inner Children

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The shadow inner children within an individual hold on to specific unresolved feelings and thought patterns.
Some common unresolved feelings of these shadow inner children are described below:


Quite often the shadow inner child feels like a victim. It keeps replaying the painful scenes over and over again. For example, if a child, at an early age, sees a conflicting relationship between his parents, since that was the initiatory experience which brought pain, his perception of relationships in life will be distorted.
Going forward, chances are, that the conflicting parental relationship patterns which this child experienced will enter into his field of relationships.

If a girl was sexually abused as a child, later in life, she might project the emotions of the abuse into her relationship with her partner. The child who at one time felt like a helpless victim and could not process the emotions will keep recreating the victim dynamics going forward in life, since that has become a familiar template for him to easily fit his life experiences into. And people always prefer the familiar, for it is a comfort zone.

At times the comfort level with the pain may be to such an extent, that this shadow inner child, in an individual will lead him to take pleasure in pain. Even though the pain was connected to an event in the past, for the shadow inner child, the pain is still occurring in the current moment. Thus, by continuously replaying the scenes in the unconscious mind, the shadow inner child influences the individual to inject the pain into his current life experiences.
A continuous underlying thought in the minds of these children is, “Why me? Why does this always happen to me?”

The inner child does this by concocting stories and creating assumptions, which connect the present life situations to the painful event of the past, which in turn was the individual’s initiation into that particular feeling of pain.


Sometimes, as mentioned above the shadow inner child is not only unwilling to let go of the pain, but also begins to revel in and glorify the pain. This shadow inner child is usually the Wounded Inner Child or the Wounded Child Archetype. The individuals with this shadow inner child hold onto the pain as if it is something very precious, and are attracted to people, who too, suffer from tragic situations.

These individuals feel the pain of others very deeply, are highly sensitive, and sometimes are over-sympathetic.

Occasionally individuals with the Wounded Child archetype try to garner understanding, sympathy and even respect, from people around them through their stories of pain. They wear the pain like a badge of honour, are proud of it, and almost glorify it.

Individuals with a Wounded Inner Child take everything too seriously and personally. They often end up internalizing their relationships and situations.

They are unwilling to heal their pain and often suffer from feelings of loneliness, self-pity, resentment, anger, neediness, and at times vengefulness. The pain gets magnified in their minds as they keep replaying the stories they created in connection to the pain.

They tend to be over helpful even when help is not needed, by empathizing with people in painful situations, sometimes at the cost of their own convenience. In this way they feel worthy of themselves. They feel like a rescuer, while conveniently avoiding their own pain and fears, which they find too overwhelming to face. There are also times when they isolate themselves completely and wallow in feelings of not being understood by anyone.

They constantly try to fill a void in their lives with the help of something or someone from the external world. They believe the help will come from outside. In a way, they suffer from the Cinderella syndrome, waiting to be rescued by someone. Or conversely, they play the rescuer to make themselves feel good and worthy.


Sometimes the shadow inner child gets so used to the pain that he feels safe in it, as it has become a comfort zone. So, for the individual, the pain becomes an excuse to not take responsibility in life, and play blame-games. In an extreme form, this can show up as passive-aggressive behaviour in a person, which is self-sabotaging.

Usually, an individual who is passive-aggressive is not even aware of the damage he is doing to himself. A person with passive-aggressive behaviour has an extremely angry and violent shadow inner child within, who feels ignored, unacknowledged, and not understood. If this inner child is not tended to, like a silent inner saboteur, this shadow inner child will propel a person continuously towards self-sabotage and at times, even suicide.

A passive aggressive person or child will seem friendly, almost meek on the surface, with extreme levels of hostility hidden underneath, towards their parents or authority figures in the workplace. They are capable of harming others, apart from themselves, and are highly manipulative. Most of the time, the people they work quietly against are completely unaware of the seething hostility within this individual. Behavioural patterns of passive aggressive individuals include, procrastination, manipulativeness, stubbornness, resentment, resistance to authority figures at home or at the workplace, deliberate inefficiency at work, hypocrisy, veiled acts of hostility, and inflicting injury to self.
A passive aggressive person is often frustrated, unable to express his feelings, which is accompanied by feelings of helplessness and revenge. This eventually kills the innate creativity in a person. Quite often this particular shadow inner child is also resistant to change.


The next pattern, which progressively follows is resistance to change. A person becomes so used to behaving in a particular pattern, as directed by his inner child, that over a period of time he is unwilling to change his ways, even if it is self-sabotaging. He is simply comfortable and safe with his habitual behavioural pattern.

He sees any form of change as a threat, which might rock his world, and rock the way he sees and knows things. Change requires “letting go” of old ways to ring in the new, and this individual sees it as a loss in life instead. Any, form of letting go, whether it is an old way of life, a behavioural trait, a job, or a relationship is a loss for this individual and is too overwhelming for him to handle. Insecurity and fear are quite deep-rooted feelings for this shadow inner child, and change in any form, for him, means insecurity and instability. On one level though, the individual is perfectly aware that without change, he is stuck. It leaves him feeling incomplete and not good enough.


When an individual feels he is not visible enough, or not good enough, it can result in his seeking appreciation, love, and attention continuously from outside, from those around him.

He may also work hard for success on the professional front, so that the emptiness and incompleteness he feels inside can be filled by his external achievements.

At times, when he does not receive the appreciation he feels let down. He seeks for approval from others constantly, and yet resents the fact that he needs approval. The attention, approval, and appreciation seeking behaviours usually stem from an Invisible Inner Child. This is an individual who feels he was ignored, and never loved and understood as a child. He seeks constant validation from the outside world. There is a constant hunger in this shadow inner child to be loved, seen, understood and appreciated, and ironically the individual with this shadow inner child suffers from a lack of self-love, self-acknowledgement, self-appreciation, and self-approval. These individuals seek it all from the outside world and yet are reluctant to give it to themselves. They are attention seekers.
In certain cases these individuals may also suffer from depression.


Individuals who as children have undergone separation from parental figures, due to divorce, death, abandonment or rejection, often suffer from feelings of being abandoned, lonely, unloved, not understood, and rejected. This is often the Orphan Child archetype making its presence felt. They have an overwhelming need to be wanted, loved, cared for, and to belong to someone and somewhere. These individuals virtually feel rootless. There is a constant hunger in them for familial love and warmth. They can spend their whole life trying to fill the void left behind by their missing parent(s).

Interestingly the Orphan Child archetype can be found in many stories and movies. To name a few, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, The Wizard of Oz, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Harry Potter, Goodwill Hunting, The Lion King, Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid.

Most of these are stories of the Orphan Archetypes who became independent and self-reliant at a very young age. They are protagonists, who grew from being needy for love, lonely, never acknowledged, distrustful, to becoming totally independent, loving, forgiving, trusting themselves, not needing anyone’s approval or acceptance, following or forging their own path.
They go on to become their own heroes, and, in a spiritual sense, enlightened.

They learnt from their pain, did not seek to escape from it, and instead grew through it.

In real life too, history is replete with stories of well-known individuals, who in all probability experienced the shadow inner children, such as, the orphan, invisible, and wounded child archetypes. They chose to face their fears, struggled, stopped judging themselves and were not afraid to walk on their path alone.
In doing so, they brought their shadows selves to the light.

Examples of such people are, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Maya Angelou, Malcom X, Edgar Allan Poe, Leo Tolstoy, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Steve Jobs, to name a few.


Few days back I came across a wonderful video of an already enlightened child, who had just witnessed a separation between her parents.
The way this child speaks shows that she is already in touch with her Enlightened Child or Divine Child archetype, which leaves no scope for her to develop any shadow inner child (Orphan Child/Wounded Child). You can view the video here. (

This provokes another line of thinking.
Considering how much of travails the prominent Masters such as Jesus and Krishna underwent in their lives, one would imagine they could have developed many shadow inner children.
However, they did not. For the simple reason, that, they were constantly in touch with the Divine Child archetype within themselves. They, never for a moment, forgot their divine roots. That in itself is a message to us.

Divine inspiration, wisdom and support, lies within us at all times. It is because we look for it on the outside, that we forget what we are capable of.

Please see the following related topics:

Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious
Jung’s Archetypes
Four Major Jungian Archetypes
Some Major Archetypes
What is a Shadow?
Of Shadow Inner Children
How Does Inner Child Healing Help?


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