I can already imagine the comments I’ll get from my more reality-based readers, but hear me out.
I used to see a therapist who was very much into working with one’s inner child. I’m a writer, and I have a healthy imagination, so I was willing to give it a try. Whether you believe in an inner child or not, it can be viewed as a sort of metaphor for those wounded parts of yourself, and addressing those parts is very valuable, in my opinion. I find this anthropomorphization to be helpful. It allowed me to actually communicate with those wounded parts, in a sense.
I viewed my inner child as me at around the age of 12, when I was at my lowest of lows. I pictured her down in a damp, dark, concrete cellar somewhere. (Not that I was ever put in a cellar, thank goodness.) She was all alone, crying, cold and uncomfortable.
Over many sessions, I got to know this child/wounded part of me, and I learned what she needed. I was then able to gain her trust and take care of her in ways she had never experienced before. It was healing and comforting, to the point where I eventually felt strong enough to go without a therapist, even though she was amazing.
After that, I continued to check in with my inner child periodically. “How are you doing? Do you need anything? Are you okay?” But over time, I stopped talking to my inner child again. Old habits, you know.
Recently, I started exercising regularly for the first time in my life. Aqua aerobics. I never thought of exercising as fun before. And one day, while exercising, I thought that my inner child would love this. So I asked her, and she was, indeed, thrilled. For a second there I felt as if I were swimming with a delightful young sibling or something, and it made the swim even more fun.
After a time I started bringing her swimming with me on a regular basis. It was a nice thing to imagine, and it helped pass the time. That’s when I thought of taking this inner child stuff to a whole new level. Her life, after all, would be what I made it.
As I swam, I’d think, “Why does she have to be in a cold, dark, cellar?”
“Hey, you. Would you like some blankets? A carpet? Comfortable furniture? What do you want your room to look like?”
Slowly, over time, we decorated my inner child’s room to her specifications. It’s quite cozy now. It’s warm and dry and full of books and it even has a window with a pretty view. It has been a very satisfying thought experiment.
I began to notice that the better she felt, the better I felt. By nurturing her, I was nurturing myself. So many of us forget to do that.
Now she is much happier. She likes where she is. She even laughs and jokes with me. When I’m thinking of blowing off some of my swimming exercises, she encourages me. “You’ve got this! You can do it! Woo hoo!” She does a charming happy dance when I succeed. She’s my inner cheerleader.
She’s growing up. She’s getting past a lot of pain and trauma. She’s turning into an amazing person. I’m kind of proud of both of us.
Yeah, I know. I sound crazy. No, I’m not hearing voices. It’s more like an imaginary friend that I’ve conjured up in my head, just as these blog posts originate in my head.
We are good to each other and for each other, this inner child and I. You should try it. You’d be surprised at how fruitful the relationship can be.
However you do it, dear reader, don’t ever forget to take care of you.
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