I have always been fascinated by how celebrations like the festive season , reunions, and being around your peers and on a sad note the loss of a loved one bring the child in us to the surface.
I took time to read about this topic and as expected there was a lot written about it. By the time I got the answers I was looking for, I was as optimistic and as excited as any healthy, loved kid I know.
This is what I found from my treasure hunt. You will learn something useful from it as I did.
Irrespective of age, maturity , class or education, each one of us has within us a vulnerable little child who still bears the scars –whether big or small of our formative years- the first five years of a child ‘s life during which the building blocks for basic learning and development are set in stone. The psychologists refer to this little child as the Inner child – the memory of the child outgrown. The child of the formative years is small, fragile, and helpless and its ultimate concern in life is feeling safe and secure and feeling that it belongs. It wants to be loved , accepted and to fit in and its worst fear is being abandoned or rejected.
It wants to make people love it and be proud of it. It has no control over its environment so it trusts its parents or guardians to look after it well. Once loved, it feels secure, then it goes out in the world and interact with it. But if it feels unloved or abandoned, it is forced to take on the responsibility for its survival and safety early in childhood. It grows up mistrusting and fearing to explore the world around it.
The inner child always remembers how it was treated during the formative years. If it was held closely and comforted when it was injured, it will want to be treated the same way though the person is now an adult . This inner child lives with us all our lives : wanting to be heard, loved and accepted. It wants to make people love it and be proud of it.
When we grow up, we all want to create the safe, secure, peaceful environment that we knew as children though in reality we live in a harsh world. In this safe environment, we are open to joy, optimistic and excited . We trust ourselves and trust others to learn from them to become wiser and less naïve just as we trusted our parents and guardians. This inner child is the source of the person’s vitality and creativity.
As this inner child is always with us and cannot be sidestepped, the psychologists advise us to embrace it. The child in us is spontaneous, fun-loving, playful and creative. The psychologists advise us to go back in our childhood and revisit the lovely memories. For those of us who missed out on any part, we should make up for this part of our childhood. If you never had a birthday thrown for you; then throw one for yourself. If you never received any affection or affirmation then learn to affirm yourself and give yourself positive self-talk. The psychologists call this giving the inner child some healing.
No doubt, losses of loved ones or something important to us like a job make us feel vulnerable out of the fear of abandonment or rejection. Thereafter, one needs to be nurtured, comforted, hugged, guided like the child you once were.
I was thrilled to learn that it is not immature to be silly as long as I balance the child mode- spontaneity, playfulness, carefree and the adult mode- knowing that your actions have consequences , what you do affects what happens to you and that you can have some control over your environment.
We are all advised to allow our inner child to shine through our lives by tapping into our childhood spontaneity and creativity. The best way of doing this is by taking up free writing or drawing. What you write or draw expresses the emotions of your inner child. We should also explore our worlds by playing childhood games like Hide and Seek with our children or grandchildren and singing the songs of our childhood. Our faces may be covered with wrinkles but tapping into this vibrant inner child helps us to stay young at heart.
Undoubtedly, the next time I dance the night away with my peers, buy and send out Christmas cards, decorate the Christmas tree with the young ones, sing the Christmas carols out of tune, I will do it with gusto for I will be revisiting and protecting my inner child. My inner child is very important in my life for it determines how I respond or react to whatever life throws at me till I breathe my last.
If you are reading this now, let your imagination go wild as you tap into your spontaneity and creativity. You can throw a dance party- children love dancing.
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