Who is it that’s throwing down when you don’t get your way? Who is laying waste to your relationships demanding everyone unrealistically meet your needs? How is it that you often seem to have triggered responses that feel out of control or involuntary, extreme, knee-jerk reactions to situations, people, places, and things? Pull up a chair, grab a matcha latte, and let’s have a sit-down to talk about the havoc that your unchecked Inner Child can wreak on your life.
Editor’s note: Throughout this practice, feel free to replace the pronouns Ryan uses with the ones you best identify with.
Don’t you sometimes have this strange feeling that there’s a hostile takeover happening within you, and you act in ways that are surprising and downright outrageous? It’s most likely because there’s an unconscious, unhealed part of you that’s demanding you pay attention to it. It’s your Inner Child acting out, because this aspect, which lives within all of us, didn’t get what she needed at that precognitive time, from the ages of 0-7 years old. She took form and has been unacknowledged from the tender time when you realized your parents weren’t infallible and you weren’t the center of their universe (to varying degrees, depending on your parents). Some of you may have even experienced rejection, abandonment, or abuse, and you hid all those complicated feelings those events precipitated. Those repressed feelings, in turn, led to self-sabotage, or the all too familiar drama/chaos cycle in adulthood.
It’s truly like having a 5-year-old running the show, pretending to be a grown-up, creating a feeling in you of being an imposter that’s unreliably reactive to whatever shows up on your life’s screen. So let’s unpack and put an end to this immature operating system. You have the power to do just that.
Here’s how to make peace with your Inner Child and, ultimately, heal a part of yourself that is demanding you integrate so that you can be whole. And who doesn’t want that? When you’re whole, you live from a place of joy, you pull in relationships that are fulfilling, you align with your purpose, and you live in abundance.
Connecting with Your Inner Child
(This is process-oriented, so find a time when you can give yourself over to this beautiful experience.)
Create a quiet moment. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths for a few rounds. Bring yourself into presence, focusing on your breath as you watch the thoughts come and go. Keep coming back to the breath when you notice a thought. Count from 10 to 1, timing your exhale with each descending number.
Ask your Inner Child to come forward. Let her emerge. Picture how she is. Note her age. What is she doing? What is she wearing? Observe her specialness, her adorable vibe. Ask her in your mind to come and be with you, letting her know you have some things to say. Most times she will. If she doesn’t trust you and wants to keep doing her thing over there, tell her you’ll just keep talking over here, and ask her to listen. Keep in mind, you have abandoned her and left her to fend for herself all these years, so she may be wary.
Tell her that you’re the adult. The one on duty for her now, so she doesn’t have to have tantrums to be heard. That you’re sorry for all she’s been through, but that you’re going to be checking in with her to meet her needs from here on out. Tell her you love her more than anyone else, and you want to partner up so you can create amazing adventures together. That she’s safe. That you “get” her. And you’re going to be listening to what she has to say, giving her lots of room to be, in a way that you haven’t before—but that you, as the adult, are running point, because that’s your job, not hers. So, she gets to be the kid, and dictate play, fun, creativity, imagination, and joy. But you’ll handle the rest. When you do this, and really feel that connection to what you’re declaring, you become responsible. You become responsible for you and her, knowing no one else can do this healing work but you. You are stepping into the power player on your journey of evolution.
Ask her how she feels about this. Usually, she’s pretty psyched to be relieved of the adulting burden and happy about your new connection and commitment to her. You might even find she’s sitting on your lap by now. A good moment to hold her close, and really feel that integration, alongside the tenderness in claiming her.
Make a point every day to connect and ask her what she needs. Some people’s Inner Child gives direct commands: coloring, roller skating with friends, watch a movie with popcorn, dancing. The point is to create space to listen in and allow your intuition to guide you with her answers if it’s not a resounding direction. If anything, it will create a container of more silliness and freedom—and we all can use more of that in these heavier times. And if you’re already doing these playful things, then just invite her to the party! If you have kids, and you’re playing card games, puzzles, or Legos, a quick thought of her or an intention for her to be present while you’re doing it, is enough to get the beneficial effects.
It’s also helpful to have a picture of yourself as a child that captures your essence, to keep in a place that you see often, reminding you of her needs and wants. And journaling is also a great way to forge a daily, concrete back-and-forth with her. It can be helpful to write with your non-dominant hand to get some truths from her, if you need answers to questions around what’s triggering you, or a clue into what’s really going on for you under the surface.
At the end of the day, we have so many aspects that make up who we are. When we mentally make the effort to connect, listen, and communicate with our Inner Child, we make peace with her, and it can heal the root of your issues as an adult. We become more capable, centered, productive, and able to feel and experience more love in our life. It’s a win-win.
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