In response to Sindy’s Inner Child Challenge at bluebutterfliesandme.
On days like this, I come home with muddy knees and butt. On days like this, I am eight.
I believe we have within us every age we have ever been. I love and have deep compassion for all the ages I have been, but eight is my favorite. She is adventuresome, sure of herself, strong and happy – especially in Nature. She is creative, free and natural, running like a horse – before everything hit the fan in her life.
I am lucky to have never lost touch with her. I have always made sure to either live in Nature or have easy access to it wherever I have lived throughout my life. A lot of people lose their inner children. Trauma, the process of separation/individuation, adolescence, the need to appear mature, busy-ness, or for whatever reason, sadly, they often go away. I encourage you to invite them back.
My mom got sick when I was 10, so things got hard. She was a beautiful, loving, nurturing mother who I loved deeply. She adored me and helped me through the early years of a lifelong illness I acquired when I was 2 months old. She died when I was 12, leaving me with an alcoholic father – very sweet, loving, sensitive poet of a man, but a rage-oholic when drunk, which was most of the time. Or he was embarrassing me to tears in public. The grief was unbearable. I missed my mom more than I can ever say. Kids weren’t allowed to grieve back then. It was Nature that saved me, and being 8. Specific people were certainly imperative as well, but my little eight chose happiness. She chose love. She chose to let go of bitterness. She chose an early spiritual path. She is my true heart center.
In my 30 year psychotherapy practice, I have done a lot of inner child work. I love it. I love helping people to get in touch with their inner little ones. Feels sacred to me. I am trained in a modality called Psychosynthesis. Part of the process is to separate the personality into its different parts, or sub-personalities, get them talking to one another, and helping them to learn how to get their needs met in healthy ways.
So, you see, inner child-ness is important to me on many levels – personal, professional, and truth be told, I just like to explore and play.
Taking pictures is one way I get in touch with her. All I have to do is go outside with my camera, and I am automatically her. I am immediately filled with gratitude and joy.
Another way to be her is to play in the mud. That can be actual mud by a creek or it can be clay….or remember silly putty? Or play dough. Ok, how many of you remember the smell? It tasted like salt, not how it smells.
Coloring is fun, or a doodling technique called Zentangle. I just painted a pair of white sneekers with a bunch of kids and adult kids at my friend’s birthday party. Yeah, colored Sharpies and rubbing alcohol. Who knew?
Dancing, singing, expressing without judgement. Judgement is not for inner children! It hurts them. Or shame. Never ever shame your inner child. When the inner critic is present – you deal with it as the adult. Don’t let it near the inner kids, unless they want to tell it off.
Every year I get together for a 5 day camping trip with close friends with whom I was in community in our 20s during the 1970s. We go to a different beautiful place every year. We are 3 generations now, so all ages come. We are the originals and then there are the 2nd genners (generations) and 3rd genners. One of the 3rd genner kids this year said. “I love how we are all kids no matter how old we are when we come to this….except Pop-pop. He’s a grown-up.”
So, with groups of trusted friends – play! We play all kinds of games that all ages enjoy, like Corn Hole. This involves 2 slanted boards, far away from each other, that each have one small hole. You have little bags like bean bags, only corn instead of beans, and you throw them into the holes. My game partner, a beloved 2nd genner and I won the championship one year, but alas, we somehow lost our edge. Oh well. We all just laugh and talk, walk and play, eat a lot and have a blast.
Ride a horse. Go on amusement park rides – unless they are too scary. Sort of scary is ok to gently push a little to boost confidence, but if the inner kid says no, don’t do it. Go fishing. Climb a tree. Skip. Paint your face rainbow colors. Have a slumber party. Go to a lake and watch a sunset with a friend. Go on a road trip with a friend. Or go by yourself or with your dog. Watch kid movies. Read kid books. Drink a chocolate milkshake…unless you are allergic to milk. Oh, and hang out with kids doing whatever they want to do. It’s usually something fun. Play dress ups or with dolls. If you are a guy and never got to do that, and wanted to… Do it now. Lie down outside and pick out shapes in the clouds. Swim in a river, lake or the ocean. Swim with dolphins. Play with your pet. Create something. Build a castle in the sand and decorate it with sea shells. Build it for faeries or gnomes to live in. Have a theme party. Pretend. Imagine.
Sit by a tree and close your eyes. Listen to every sound. Smell every fragrance. Feel the earth beneath you. See how many sounds and smells you can detect, then feel/smell/hear them all as one. Make up a story about an animal you see.
Often issues come up for us as adults. Go inside. How old were you when you first felt what you are feeling? Love that child. Ask her or him what happened that made him or her feel this. Go back to that scene. Feel it. Stand up for her or him as you, the adult. How does the child feel with your support? Let the child talk and cry and just hold them. Listen to them and validate their experience and feelings. Tell the one who hurt them where to go. Just be with the inner child. Be strong, solid and loving. Let them know how important they are to you. Apologize for not keeping them safe and that you will keep them safe now. Then go do whatever they want to do. Eat a lollipop. Swing on a swing set, singing at the top of your lungs. Whatever. Let them feel your love, compassion and belief in them. Let them know they can get through anything with your support.
Walk in Nature, and explore every little thing.
There are many things to do to make your inner child happy. Listen to her/him. Validate what s/he says and take action to protect him/her. Love your inner child’s heart always. Be in the Moment…..And Remember To PLAY and Have Fun!