It has recently come to my attention that In order to truly love yourself you must first embrace your inner child. I have to admit that at first I didn’t understand how the two were correlated. I didn’t understand 1) what it means to love your inner child or embrace your youth, however you want to look at it; 2) how to go about trying to address your inner child; and 3) why going back to your childhood has anything to do with loving who you are today. However, as I have fully committed myself to this journey of finding my true life’s calling, I decided to give it a shot. 1) What I found during this particular practice is that loving your inner child means that you may have to pick at old scabs. These painful memories and old wounds could be blocking your joy. Some suppressed memories may now be burdens that you are in a better place to handle as an adult. The other side of never looking back for fear of what pain may lie under the surface is that you may also suppressing many happy memories that occurred around the same time. 2) In this blog we uncover the four ways to connect and embrace your inner child.
The first step in embracing your inner child is to try to incorporate some spontaneity into your daily routine. If you have issues letting go like me, this can be one of the harder activities in the series. My suggestion is to take it slow and start small. One simple tactic is to take a minute to process last minute requests or invitations. Don’t just say no to things that you would normally turn down because you weren’t expecting them or there is a short turnaround time. If your friend, coworker, partner, etc. asks you to do something different later tonight or even at lunch TODAY, don’t just automatically say no or you can’t, STOP, take a second and think if you want to do this thing and if it would be fun. If yes, then just decide to say yes and deal with the logistics later. Deciding to encourage these bits of spontaneity in your life will give you more practice and also more opportunities to continue the process. I promise that a year, five years, 10 years from now, you won’t remember the things you didn’t do. Routines are great, they help us get more done on auto pilot mode but they can also get us into a rut which feels like the days are passing mindlessly by. Allowing yourself the freedom of carefree youthfulness into your daily routine will help you feel more in control than ever. Its funny to say that letting go gives you more control but if you think about it, we try to control our lives out of fear. Fear of conflict, fear of loss, fear of the unknown. If you can conquer these fears you will see that controlling your fears is more powerful than trying to control the uncontrollable environment in which you live. (Check out our blog on Forgetting Your Fears for more on facing fears.)
Okay, here we go. This step can be very painful. I caution any of you that may have been abused or think you may have been abused in any way as a child to please seek the help of a trusted friend, lover, loved one, or professional before starting this process. Before anyone takes on this challenge, I want to remind you that you are not that child anymore, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and you are not and shouldn’t feel alone in this process. So now that you have been properly warned and supported, let’s get into how to get started on this process. I began by finding a free hour and a quiet place to close my eyes and think back to the most painful childhood memory I could conjure up. For me, I had an idea of where I wanted to go so it was more about really working on the details of placing myself watching little girl me in that dark cold, scary hallway at my Nana & Papa’s house. I tried to feel the utter loneliness and abandonment I felt then. I tried to recall every detail of what brought me there, and every second of fear and despair for what seemed like endless hours.
As I was recalling this it was like I was watching from the end of the hall as adult me unable to comfort little girl me but able to rewind or fast forward the video to better understand how I got there and all of the circumstances surrounding the memory. I was able to recall the terrible nightmares I had as a kid, somewhere around 6-7 years old. I would be staying over at my Nana & Papa’s and I would wake up alone and terrified in my room seeing demons and ghosts in every shadow. I would go into the hall outside of my Nana & Papa’s room, I guess I felt more safe there, and I’d hug my back against the wall near the nightlight. I would stare down the hall waiting for someone to come save me and sometimes they would and sometimes they wouldn’t. I had forgotten all about the nightmares, I only recalled the overwhelming sense of loneliness that has haunted me all my life. When I uncovered the nightmares as the cause it gave me better context for the lingering feeling of abandonment. I was afraid to discuss the dreams, they were too scary to even relive in the daylight. I still have these terrifying dreams but now as an adult I have better coping mechanisms in place. The feeling of abandonment in my darkest hour that I felt as a child I now know was really based on these night terrors. I finally feel more connected to my inner child and less haunted by those painful memories. One trick you can use to help channel you back to these childhood memories is to study old pictures. I do mean study, really look at the pictures, look at the surroundings, the expression on everyone’s face, try to remember being in that moment, living in that house, the couch, the rug, etc. The more you can put yourself into the pictures in your awakened state, the more you will be able to dig deeper in meditation or in your sleep. I suggest before you go to sleep, you give yourself permission to see what you need to see at a safe distance for healing and enlightenment, and ask that no pain, no guilt, and no fear or harm come to you in your dreams.
Now that we’ve covered the dark icky stuff let’s have some fun. Try to incorporate a bit of play into each and every day. You can play by yourself or with children (that you are legally allowed to be around). Make up fun games with points and rewards or prizes for reaching milestones to help get you through tough projects at work. Skip from your car to wherever you’re going. Don’t step on a crack you’ll break your mama’s back, join a kickball league, find a Meetup group for your favorite sport. Go to trivia nights, read more Dr. Seus (the man’s a genius) and my personal favorite, dance and sing like no one’s watching. Most of all try to remember that life is supposed to be fun, it’s the ultimate long game. If you don’t enjoy the journey, what’s the point? Also, please note that the more fun you are having, the more you will attract people’s attention, positive and negative. So, try to give zero shits and just skip off into the sunset with your smile entact. Embracing a little fun each day will help you start to see things for what they are and not take everything so seriously. Life is only life, it’s not meant to be taken so seriously. Basic needs have to be met to feel secure, yes, but beyond that there is quite a bit of flexibility. I believe it is true that the simpler the lifestyle, the happier the life. The more things you add to your lifestyle the more responsibilities you add along with it. Responsibilities carry with them fear of loss or failure. Most of all, be true to you and that inner child of yours. What brings you both joy? Start with the basics and work your way up. Play with what you want, what you need, and see the opportunities that lie in front of you that you couldn’t see through your adult sized glasses.
Give Baby You A Hug
Finally, love and comfort the little you inside. Help make baby you feel safe, protected, and taken care of. Big you is better able to cope now so it’s time to take baby you out of the shadows, embrace and release those fears. When the video of me watching baby girl me crying ended, I was able to approach little me and hug her and tell her she was safe and everything was going to be okay. You need to kiss the boo boos, dry the tears, and move on together as one cohesive whole being of light and love. This is your shot to release the pain of the past and embrace all the good stuff that you used to love. What did you want to be when you grew up? When were you most happy? What were you doing when you were happiest? What kind of people were you with? This is your chance to bring baby you to a safe place, a place where you had no cares or worries for the future because you believed in Santa Clause, and the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Change your lifestyle, your routine, your career if need be, to honor your truest most pure desires. We don’t often give kids enough credit for their thoughts and feelings because, “what do they know? they haven’t gone through hard life choices yet.” But that’s the thing, our baby selves weren’t jaded yet. We weren’t distracted by politics or marketing or all the things that make us want to conform. We just were. We felt it and we did it. We said it, and we were free. How can you honor that now in the confines of a more mature environment with grownup responsibilities? That is the test, and if you master it you are golden happiness is yours.
3) Either way you look at it, you need to go within and find a way to connect with the little you inside so that you can fully love all of the you that you are. Once you connect, and comfort your baby self you can move toward your best life as one fully developed person. As a reminder to embrace your inner child as you move on with your adult life, put up pictures from when you were little. Happier times were you were your most true to yourself. Use these as a daily reminder to embrace that feeling and find the moments of childlike happy each day. This is your chance to find a way to get back to that time, that feeling, here in the present. Your happiness is within your reach, will you grab on and take it?
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