I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with a certain beautiful, insightful, playful and fun-loving five year old girl. She loves horses and cats, she loves music and dancing, she enjoys drawing and solving puzzles. Her favorite foods are pizza and tacos. She also has one magical trait that not many people have ~ or more to the point, it’s a trait we’re all born with but all too soon forget: she knows she’s perfect just the way she is.
She knows that there is nothing wrong with her ~ there’s nothing about her that needs to be fixed or improved upon. She knows that all her emotions are not only valid but very important indicators and should be honored and respected.
This brilliant young child is me at 5 years old ~ she’s my inner child. And she’s been teaching me a whole bunch.
For years I cringed at the term “inner child” ~ it just sounded so cliche and psychotherapy-ish. The truth is though, we all DO have an inner child. And another truth is that at some point in our early years, we all abandoned that child. We don’t do it on purpose and it’s not intentional, but we trade that child in for other things that we think we need like:
* parental approval
* people pleasing
* peer conformity
…among countless others. At some point we all give up our authentic selves (the authenticity and innocence that makes up the inner child) and become what our parents, society, schools, friends, and/or teachers tell us we should be instead. There’s no one to blame. This is just the way things have been for generations and centuries. Until now.
I do believe that this current generation of parents is realizing there is a more gentle and respectful way to raise our children, a way that doesn’t compromise their inner light. And in following this tugging of our hearts to raise our children in a different way we are also reparenting ourselves. At least that has been my experience. And it’s making my inner child stand up and dance with glee ~ for not only recognizing that she’s been here the whole time just wanting to be acknowledged, but also because I’m actually integrating her into my own life in a way that’s making us both more happy, peaceful and playful.
Probably the biggest, most notable practice I’ve been using to reparent myself is honoring my emotions and accepting that whatever I’m feeling is exactly what I’m supposed to be feeling. Having spent many years on a spiritual journey, I had become quite wrapped up in only having positive thoughts, or moving up the “emotional scale,” or engaging in practices to “make me feel better.” I do think we as a culture put too much (inaccurate) emphasis on “being happy all the time.” Being happy all the time is a lie. NO ONE is happy all the time and we’re not supposed to be happy all the time. I’ve learned that part of being human is experiencing the whole gamut of human emotions. We’re not supposed to just feel one way all the time. Where’s the fun in that? So in my practice I’ve been acknowledging with honesty my emotions and welcoming them in. It’s looked like this: “Oh, hello (anger, sadness, jealousy, etc). Welcome. You’re very important. Stay as long as you need and know that I love you.” I would often repeat as necessary and just sit with it, REALLY feeling it. Is it easy? No. But it IS magical. I found when I let in the so-called negative feeling and really felt it with love, it wouldn’t stick around as long. LOVING the negative emotion actually alchemized it.
And it was also magical in that I felt totally accepted by MYSELF. I was learning to love and approve of myself in any situation, with any emotion. Within a couple of months of doing this I felt a more complete merger with my inner child. The inner child who knows she’s perfect exactly as she is.
Since this integration I’ve been playing a lot more. I learned to solve the Rubiks cube, I’ve been zentangling, I’m learning how to play electric guitar, and I’m starting horse-back riding lessons ~ all passions I had as a child. Passions that I am now enjoying in a fully integrated, playfully adult way.
I may have eschewed the whole inner child work for many years ~ maybe because it seemed too complicated or too gimmicky. But it is actually quite simple ~ love yourself exactly where you are without trying to change a thing. And THAT kind of self-love is what makes things actually start to change.
Happy Magical Monday. ♥