It's a myth of our current cultural paradigm that we are somehow one. We each get perceived as a single, solid, homogenous mass that is internally consistent, one integrated, unchanging personality.
My experience of myself, and of clients, is that this is very far from the truth. We have many aspects of ourselves, for example as a colleague, intimate partner and parent we will be pulling on different dimensions of ourself, we do not always speak with one consistent voice.
Virginia Satir many moons ago looked at the multiplicity of personality, noting that we are made up of several parts, each with their own characteristics and behaviours. Psychological health involves being aware of and in touch with our parts, so that they can together enable us to behave congruently in a wide range of situations. Health is about advocating and supporting the different elements of ourself so that they are a holistic community in which conflict can be resolved and support can be offered.
A theme I note in therapeutic work is the frequency with which inner child parts are rejected. So often, a young aspect of self has been given a huge role e.g. to make us happy, to look after us. Unsurprisingly, a part that operates with a young age can't fulfil such a role, and its efforts are infantile. We then reject this part for causing problems as it attemmpts ineptly to fulfil its role. So often I hear cries of 'why won't it just go away' or 'why can't I just ignore it?' If you've ever tried ignoring a young child you will know, when ignored, they just get louder and more persistent. And so a fight ensues.
The path to resolving unwanted parts conflict and the symptoms that go with it is seldom welcome when explained. That which we reject, we need to welcome. That which we push away, we need to bring close. That which we neglect, we need to care for. What you resist will persist. If a part of yourself is calling your attention to something, it is because there is a need that is unmet, there is something there to attend to and resolve. This may require some internal reorganisation, giving big jobs to an older aspect of yourself, and letting the young be free to play for example. Each situation will have its own unique right way forward, generalising is hard.
What is consistent however is the way to relate to parts. The path to integration is to open your heart, and to listen. Bringing your internal vulnerabilities close and showing them love and affection can be transformative. Your inner child may need nurturing. It may need protecting. It may need wisdom. For sure though, it needs your adult caring.
How? Self-care. Tenderness. Show yourself that you are worthy of love through your actions. Get out in nature. Eat nourishing food. Hydrate yourself. Give yourself physical comfort, be it a massage, warm bath, cuddling a pet or a person, stroking on moisturiser...whatever it is that leaves you feeling comforted and held. Lastly, listen to what happens in your head. Do you speak with nurturing, kind tones? Are you affirming and encouraging? If not, remember that your inner voice is just that, inner, its yours. You can make it sound any way you want it to (with practice).
Love is a verb, its something you do deliberately, it is so much more than just a feeling. Why not start loving yourself today? It is never too early, and certainly it is never too late.