Why we should embrace our inner child
Getting back in touch with your inner child is a great way to relieve yourself from stress and to re-embrace the creativity and vitality that you had as a child, that you still have deep down…
For each statement below, answer…
– HARDLY EVER
– LOTS OF THE TIME
1. I have a playful side and know how to enjoy myself
2. My childhood memories are strong and I can remember how I felt when I was young
3. I have a vivid imagination and enjoy creative pursuits
4. From time to time I look at old photographs of myself
5. I have a healthy relationship with my siblings
6. The people who knew me as a child say I haven’t changed much
7. I am comfortable in my own skin
8. In all my friendships and intimate relationships, I look for equal partnerships
9. I have found peace with my upbringing
10. Life’s small pleasures delight me and I am often in awe of the world
11. I am aware of my childhood wounds
12. My demeanour reflects who I really am inside
13. I have built a life that supports me
14. Being alone doesn’t worry me
15. I live in the present and have a curiosity for life
16. Sometimes, I can be silly and I value laughter
17. Each day I take time out to unwind and switch off
18. I enjoy the company of children and feel I can learn something from them
19. When I’m throwing my toys out the pram, I can admit it
20. I feel a sense of freedom
YOU MOSTLY ANSWERED “HARDLY EVER…”
The adult you rules the roost and doesn’t have much time for the demands of a pesky inner child. Perhaps you’ve got a lot on your plate, with work, bills, studying, family, and friends all vying for your attention. As well as being delightful (sometimes!), children can be wild, uncontrollable, have overwhelming feelings, and want things which may seem impossible, so it’s understandable that you might want to keep your inner child at bay. Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky reminds us, though, that ‘the soul is healed by being with children’, and that includes time with your own inner child. Take baby steps to build a relationship with your inner child. If you’ve not met him/her for a long time, take a moment to close your eyes and remember yourself as a child. If it’s difficult to find an image in your mind, you might find it helpful to use a photograph to reconnect.
If you struggle, professional support can help you find a place safe enough for your inner little one to come out of hiding.
Try: Ask your inner child how they’d like to spend some time. And check in a few times during the week, asking how they’re doing and how they’re feeling. Simply being heard allows the inner child to feel appreciated, that they are not alone.
YOU MOSTLY ANSWERED “SOMETIMES…”
While the adult you is in charge, you’ve a sense of that part of yourself which is playful, creative and passionate. You might share a more mischievous side of yourself with one or two colleagues. You might, however, feel that too many commitments and responsibilities take centre stage in your life. The incomparable Prince sang ‘Act your age, mama (not your shoe size)’ but there can be something very revitalising about getting in touch with your inner UK size 6. Cultivating a child-like awe for the things around you might put a spring in your step. The Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh encourages us to notice that doing the washing up is a bit like a warm bubble bath with all sorts of interesting objects.
Try: Using your inner child’s creativity and light-heartedness for a fresh perspective. Ask this part of your self for help with something which is challenging you. If what comes up doesn’t feel immediately useful, thank your inner child regardless – in time, the wisdom of their suggestion may become apparent.
YOU MOSTLY ANSWERED “LOTS OF THE TIME…”
Your inner child and adult self walk hand-in-hand through life together. You can carry adult responsibility but it doesn’t weigh you down. Perhaps you’ve been lucky and passionate enough to find a way of doing what you love and being paid for it. Or, you have a strong sense of child-like awe for this extraordinary experience of living. You’re likely to consult your inner child on most things from whether they fancy eating pudding for breakfast to how they’d like to spend the next five years. You might also have a strong sense of what it is that your inner child doesn’t like and the things which make this part of you feel unhappy. Rather than being wholly dependent on the relationships in your life, or wholly independent, you might have found a place of balance and interdependence. You are able to ask for help when needed.
Try: Enjoy visualising this part of yourself and checking if your inner child has any suggestions for the day or week which might bring joy for yourself and those around you.
A little psycho-education
The Inner Child
Many branches of psychology have models for the various parts of ourselves. Freud categorised the mind as having an ID, an ego and a super-ego. Transactional analysis suggests a model where we have an inner parent, an inner adult and an inner child – often with the adult trying to negotiate between the varying demands of the inner parent and those of the inner child. The way we perceive and respond to authority figures, such as our managers at work, is usually connected to our early experiences of our parents and teachers, and how protected we felt by them at a young age.
A wounded child
Transpersonal psychotherapy also works with the idea of an inner child, both a wounded child, and one which is divine. The part of ourselves whose needs weren’t looked after when we were children, or which was squashed or required to take on too much responsibility, might be thought of as the wounded child. It’s fairly common in adult life to find certain situations or things that are said to us to seem like a red rag to a bull and very quickly get us in contact with a young and wounded part of ourselves, when we may react in an extreme manner. This reaction is known as being triggered.
When our emotions seem a bit out of proportion for a particular situation, it’s quite possible someone or something has hit a button and the wounded child within us has taken over. Throwing ones toys out of the pram becomes more understandable (if not always excusable) when we know that there’s someone small and hurt, angry, or afraid, who has temporarily taken control. The more we can recognise the wounded child within, the more we can begin to develop some supportive inner parents to look after it.
The Divine Child
It’s the part of ourselves which remains undamaged by the life we’ve had. This part of ourselves holds the key to our feelings of excitement, awe, and passion in life. Think of the abundant joy and fearlessness of a young child and the light in their eyes to get a sense of the vitality of the divine child.
THE YOUNG ONES
BALANCE spoke to readers to ask how they last connected to their inner child