Ground Yourself With a Five Step Ritual To Take Care of Your Inner Child

Cities across the world are deep within the process of stringing Christmas lights, ornaments and holiday advertisements in the streets. The societal ritual of holiday preparation is underway, with Christmas Trees and Santa Clauses at shopping establishments near you. For many people in the LGBTQIA+ community, this season can bring a mixed bag of emotions, ranging from childhood nostalgia, to traumas and triggers around family gatherings or a lack thereof.

While people across the world negotiate the stress of holiday-season-capitalism amidst a global pandemic (with a constantly mutating virus,) LGBTQIA+ people often experience an added layer of stress that arises from being who they are. After years of therapy and counseling, I was able to establish a grounding ritual in order to prepare for the holiday season. By convening with our inner-children as adults, we’re able to establish new holiday traditions to meet our own needs. Here’s a 5-Step ritual to ground yourself in preparation for the holiday season.

Step 1: Make an Altar to Your Inner-Child

According to Healthline.com, the psychological concept of the inner-child is often traced back to psychiatrist Carl Jung who described a child archetype in his work. According to this concept, our inner-children are a sub-personality within our subconscious, informed by our experiences, feelings and desires as children. Our inner children are ever-present whether we acknowledge them or not. In order to ground yourself for the holiday season, begin by collecting all of the parts of yourself by doing an internal check-in. If you’ve never met your inner-child before, this is a great opportunity for a first encounter!

To build an altar to your inner-child, spend time gathering items and/or symbols that remind you of yourself as a child. If you have an image or enjoy drawing, offer yourself a visual representation and spend time connecting with that child. Dedicate a special area for your altar. It can be as official as a shelf or as simple as a shoe box.If you would like to give your altar a holiday theme, you can collect items that symbolize things you looked forward to, or that remind your child of this season. For example, you might decide to place a holiday sock on your altar to incorporate traditions that sparked joy for you.

Step 2: Before You Officially Begin the Holiday Season, Visit Your Altar Regularly To Check In With Your Child

Now that you have established an altar filled with images and items that invoke the presence of your inner child, set up a schedule to conduct your check-ins so that you are not overwhelmed with trying to do all the grounding at once. For example, you could commit to spending 30 minutes with your inner child every day to build a routine. Try to find a time slot that allows silence and privacy so that you have room to speak to your inner child. When connecting with the symbols on the altar, try to listen out for your inner child’s voice and the feelings that arise.

After you have officially met and had a few conversations with them, set up a meeting between the two of you to start mapping your feelings about the holiday season. You can initiate the conversation by asking yourself how you feel about the upcoming celebrations. Be a patient and encouraging listener, allowing room for all the mixed emotions that may arise. For example, your inner child might feel really excited and nervous at the same time. Perhaps they yell that they hate the holidays and want to stay in bed until Christmas is over. Step into the role of the loving parent of your inner child and hold space for these emotions. Some people might find it helpful to map these emotions out on paper. Try to avoid judging or subduing the child’s feelings; instead, listen in and take note of each feeling, no matter how conflicting they might be with your goals or values as an adult. Your parenting and processing will come later on.

Step 3: Make a List of Your Holiday Season Needs and Boundaries

Once you’ve begun the process of checking in with your child’s feelings about the upcoming celebrations, you might be triggered by memories of previous holiday seasons. In order to console and protect the vulnerable inner child who has just confessed their innermost feelings to you, spend time discussing your needs and boundaries about the holiday season with yourself.

There are numerous online resources to help explain how needs and boundaries can help you find peace, including social media posts and books by award winning therapist and author, Nedra Tawwab. In an Instagram post, she explains, “If you decide to spend time with your family and you have a complicated relationship with them, you can accept people as they are and not tolerate unhealthy relationships.” The post continues, “You have a choice in how long you interact with people. You can decide on what topics are off-limits. You can shut down any conversations on off-limits topics (and) you don’t have to engage in heated dialogue, arguments and gossip.”

Tawwab’s post illustrates boundaries to consider when preparing to meet with potential family conflict. It is important to note that boundaries are context specific to each individual and LGBTQIA+ folx should make safety a priority when establishing a method of implementing boundaries in unsafe gatherings. Some people may decide that it feels safer to communicate all boundaries upfront and over the phone before arriving in a conflict-filled environment. For others, being aware of boundaries for oneself may feel safer than communicating it out loud to family. In this scenario, it might be helpful to work on a clear plan of action including the boundaries and safety needs that follow. For example, you might decide that homophobic comments are off-limits. In order to respect your boundary and plan for this potential trigger, you could tell your family you have to leave early when you arrive, and stay longer if your boundaries are respected. You could message a close friend to let them know that you will visit them if any boundaries are crossed. In order to protect your inner child, resort to the safety plan that you set up for yourself.

Each individual is aware of the potential triggers that may arise during this season. Because it’s impossible to eliminate all triggers, it is integral to create a security blanket within your internal family (which in this case means only you and your inner child) in order to feel more grounded and at peace.

Step 4: Practise a Grounding Routine That You Can Take With You Wherever You Go This Season

While some people experience triggering family gatherings, other LGBTQIA+ folx experience isolation from their families. Whether you live with your family, you’re visiting, or you’re staying as far away from them as possible, practise a grounding routine with your inner child and take it with you wherever you find yourself during the holidays. There are a number of calming and grounding activities you could explore including breathing techniques, or counting the number of specifically colored items around you (for example, looking at all the green items in a room as a meditation). In some cases, you might prefer to take some alone time by going on a short walk or excusing yourself to meditate for a few minutes. Practise different grounding routines with your inner child to discover what they are most inclined to and lean on your chosen technique if you feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Beyond the grounding techniques suggested above, you can discover unique things that ground you by asking your child what they need to feel calmer and more comfortable in a moment. For example, if physical touch is your love language, you might enjoy hugging yourself by wrapping your arms around yourself and taking a deep breath as you lean into the safety of your own embrace.

Step 5: Invite Joyous New Holiday Traditions

Once you’ve built a relationship with your inner child and done the grueling work of creating a safety plan, it’s time to invite joy, celebration, and affirmation into the holiday season by asking yourself what you would do if you had full reign of your time. Brainstorm some ideas with your inner child and consider all your potential celebratory desires. If you’ve always dreamed of a queer Christmas, consider setting up a zoom party with people in community or hosting them for an affirming celebration. Once you’ve decided on what you’re able to incorporate from this wish list, commit to a date and reclaim the holiday season as a time of joy for yourself.

The transition from the inner-child to the adult feels rapid, often leaving us wondering how we ended up being grown-ups. The holiday season can be a trying time for the inner child and adult version of you alike. Be gentle with yourself in the process and show up for yourself as the kind support system you need most, regardless of where you spend the holidays.


RITUALS is a nine-part miniseries edited by Vanessa Friedman. The writers who contributed to this miniseries will share all sorts of rituals: rituals for love, rituals for grief, rituals for forgiveness, rituals for inner peace. We’ll publish a few pieces each week through December 31. Please share your rituals in the comments, and let our contributors know which rituals in particular speak to you.


We keep Autostraddle majority free-to-read, but it isn't free to create! We need YOU to sign up for A+ to help keep this indie queer media site funded. A+ membership starts at just $4/month or $30/year. If you can, will you join?

Join A+
Related:

Saif Arbee

Saif is a writer and multi-media artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. They are currently undergoing a gender affirmation process. If you'd like to make a contribution, please reach out to them on Instagram @nosaifspace

Saif has written 2 articles for us.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!