We learn early on that our survival is tied into getting the help and attention of others. As babies we quickly learn what will and will not get out needs met. As we grow, we learn to moderate our demands with coos and smiles, progressing to pleases, thank-yous and yes, ma’am/sir. Somewhere along that learning curve we began to believe it was more important to get others to love us and give us attention than it was for us to love and attend to ourselves. We learned to sacrifice our core wants and needs in order to make others happy, which we believed was the surest way to get others to love us. If I can make you happy, then I will deserve attention and love, is our reasoning.
If you have been really, really good at prostituting your core self’s desires for the love, validation and attention of others, like I did, sooner or later your inner child will ‘awaken’ screaming and yelling and generally throwing a shit-storm tantrum – like mine did! I call it The Epic Shit Storm of 2010.
Your inner child is not a brat, but it is a child. Mine, I’ve discovered, is a princess who adores very sparkly things like tiaras and fancy shoes. Your inner child is subtly or not so subtly demanding your attention and she/he will never go away. You may successfully subdue your inner child throughout your life time, but it will cost you.
Signs You Have Been Ignoring Your Essential Self
Chronic pain, always fighting sickness or an inability to lose extra weight: Your essential self is on a work-to-rule-your-body campaign. If you feel that your body is against you and trying to slow you down or stop you, you are right. It is!
Outburst of Inappropriate or unusual behaviour.
Passionate Language: Your inner child loves swear words!
Ongoing sadness, depression, anger or anxiety.
Generally unable to ‘control’ yourself the way you are used to.
You, a usually nice, ‘normal’ person, may begin to have outbursts of bad or out-of-character behaviour or use of ‘colorful’ language (internal as well as external). You may find yourself thinking rude things in your head and then berating yourself for being ‘not nice.’ These are signs your inner child has gone underground. Some would call it your shadow self. It is not another self, it is your innocent inner child in pain from neglect desperate to get your attention by hijacking you.
How to talk to and or hear your inner child
First of all, your inner child needs to feel safe before it will venture out and trust that you are ready to listen to her. Remember, you have been shushing her for a while. Simply begin by giving your essential self some choices. What would you like to eat? What would you like to wear? Where would you like to go? What would feel fun right now? Know that your inner child/essential self does not 'speak' in words. Those things that 'seem' like a good idea or look good on paper, may not necessarily be what your real self desires. The essential self uses body sensations, images, pictures, emotions, etc. It takes a bit of practice to know when you've made a connection with your true self.
Tools to use when talking to your inner child/essential self:
*Body/mind connecting meditations or breathing exercises are great for getting relaxed enough for you to hear your inner knowings, or nudgings.
*Body compass. This is where you rate questions or activities using your body’s responses. Usually an expansive, open feeling means a ‘yes' or 'like.’ And a tightening, closed feeling means a ‘no' or 'don’t like.’
Your inner child will give you images in dreams.
*Dreams are picture metaphors from your inner self and can be a source of great information. I love analyzing dreams, especially the epic, seemingly-significant ones. The dreams you can’t ‘shake’ in the day and the particularly scary ones seem to hold the best information.
*Non-dominate hand interviews. Write out a question for your inner child using your dominate writing hand, then switch the pen to your non-dominate hand and just begin moving the pen on the paper, squiggling even, just to get the ball literally rolling, with the intention of letting your inner child respond. I find it takes at least 3 or 4 questions before the inner self gets going. Don’t edit yourself.
You don’t necessarily have to let your essential self ‘take the wheel”, but you do have to take her along for the ride and ask her where she wants to go and or what she’d like to do. The goal is to eventually let your inner child choose the ‘what’ and then find creative ways to use your “acceptable” social skills to solve the how. Eventually you and your essential self can make larger and larger decisions in your life that will lead you to being in charge of loving yourself and fulfilling your desires.
I’ve learned that I have to allow my Inner Princess to say whatever she feels like saying. I write it out, no editing and then we discuss what is appropriate to act on. She also gets to say no to absolutely every option first and then she will consider certain possibilities. She likes to feel she’s the ruler of all things before she graciously allows me to move forward.
Questions and Comments are greatly encouraged. Especially the ones from your inner child! :)