Last week we learned about the 3 Pillars of Connection.
These three pillars exist in everything that we do. The key is to create a beautiful connection, awareness, and understanding of these three pillars. Only then you can start to feel into when is your mind talking, when are your emotions taking over, and when are you actually fully in tune with your body.
Review that post as much as needed, go back to it, ask me questions, seek out other resources if needed.
But today we are diving into our inner children. I started doing this work last summer and it has truly been life changing.
Have you ever been quick to act in a situation, and later regretted your actions? Do you find yourself behaving in ways that are not truly aligned with your values, wants, needs or goals? Have you ever noticed other people behaving in ways that you know aren’t within their typical character?
In these situations, the hyperactive, unthought out actions and behaviors are coming from a place of pain in our inner children. This piece of us did not feel loved, noticed, or heard while growing up and maturing. A piece of us frozen in time. A place that went unmet and has continued to be unhealed throughout life.
It is our inner child that is screaming through trying to get their needs met. And because the needs are not met, behaviors become destructive and unproductive.
It is important to know that an event or situation that causes a child to experience pain and to develop unmet needs can be something small and simple such as being ignored in a conversation or as sad and horrible as you can imagine.
One of my examples…
I know that I grew up in a loving family. My parents cared for me and provided for me. They did their absolute best with what they had and with what they knew.
But there is so clearly and vividly in me a version of my younger self that feels ignored. I see her as four or five years old, about the time my sister was born. Perhaps it is because as my sister came into the world and I lost all of the attention of my parents.
I am not sure why and quite honestly I don’t need to truly understand the why. I don’t need to go into the stories to create meaning around why this version of me feels ignored.
What is important is tapping into my body, yes that 3rd pillar of connection!….to feel what the feeling of being ignored feels like, where I feel it in my body, and then asking that 5 year old me part of me what I can do to help heal this.
- How can I love you more?
- What do you need most right now?
By asking those questions, I was able to start to heal this version of me. To allow her to feel heard, seen, recognized. My current, mature, and grown up version of myself was then able to start healing these deep underlying sensations of feeling ignored, unheard, and unworthy.
Tapping Into Our Inner Children
Now, it was not easy to tap into my inner children. It took mediation, quietness, stillness, and some reminiscing to really get to this place. Once I was there though, it felt so magical to be re-connected with her.
In a mediation practice I found myself in the backyard of the house I grew up in the country. I was in the backyard and was looking at my younger self, swinging on a swing set my dad had built for my sister and I. She saw me and we walked towards each other. I knelt down and she crawled onto my lap and we put our foreheads together and hugged. I could feel her softness, sweetness, and sadness. But I could also feel her love for play and imagination.
I asked her those questions. How can I love you more? What do you need most? And what came from that was a letter I journaled, from my 5 year old inner child to my grown up self, evolved self today.
I will spare you the time and energy of reading the entire letter, but what was most impactful to me were these sentences that came pouring out at the end:
Do those fun, silly things for me. Don’t forget about me. Don’t forget about us.Love, your younger self.
What I really took from that letter was in order to feel more loved, heard, and supported, and to help her to no longer feel ignored, she wanted me to play more. To be the one to give myself the attention, love and appreciation. What she needed most was for me to stop stressing, worrying, creating anxiety in my head, to stop over preparing, and to live more.
Since then I have been saying YES to more things I want to do and saying NO to the things that don’t bring me joy.
Of course, this is just one example of one inner child. I have identified several inner children that can shine through with destructive behaviors.
The 8 year old feeling alone and very scared. A few years later the 13 year old that is starting to open up but is still very much scared and shy. Then 15 year old wanting and needing more attention, experiencing a lot of jealousy.
How To Tap Into Your Inner Children
What inner children can you identify?
Don’t worry if you can’t identify any right now. It can take time to sink into that state of mind.
- Write out a list of your memories.
- Flip through pictures or watch old videos to spark your memories.
- Find an inner child guided meditation.
- Practice those 3 Pillars of Connection.
- Be quiet and still with yourself
- Go do something you used to love doing as a child.
If all else fails, just go play. What child doesn’t want more play?
As grown ups we excel in doing work, creating to-do lists, creating stories around not having enough time, and manifesting stress and money problems.
It is time to breathe. Go for a hike, play beach volleyball, pull out a board game, turn up the music and dance, paint your nails a crazy and bright color, buy a new outfit that brings you joy. I think you catch my drift.
Provide your inner child and yourself with what you actually want and need. To really know what you want and need you have to get connected to your body and not your mind or your emotions. Drop down, deep into yourself. Only then can you act out of a place of love and respect for all parts of you instead of out of destructive patterns.
One More Example…
I want to provide you with another example. Yes, to give you guys more context, but to also serve as a place for me to sort of work through this….
My number one question is, “why did I develop an eating disorder?“. My first post about my eating disorder led with “….eating disorder, well that was out of the blue.“
But, if I tune into my body I can really remember the feelings I had throughout my eating disorder and even right before I started to restrict my eating.
While at college, I had friends but I still felt like I did not fit in. I was not on the golf team, I did not play sports. I was sort of just there, having fun, but not really feeling like people actually wanted to hang out with me. Now that I type this I know I felt this way in high school and still do at times today. #workinprogress.
Those beliefs and thoughts created feelings of anxiety, unworthiness, and sadness. Instead of appropriately working through those feelings by sitting with them, truly feeling them to heal them, to become comfortable with them, and then being able to satisfy my needs appropriately, I chose to shut them down. Instead I turned to a destructive habit, anorexia.
I restricted my food to morph my body to gain a sense of control, attention, and the “oooohhh and ahhh” of she is so skinny…..therefore I am pretty and worthy of people noticing.
Fortunately I am 100% out of that destructive pattern now and while it was a sad and horrible, I am absolutely happy and thankful for my eating disorder for where it has brought me today. I would not be on the journey I am on and I would not be able to help others as I am now.
So, what did my 20 year old self need?
I asked her those two questions:
- How can I love you more?
- Give her courage, confidence, and the ability to express herself in her own way.
- What does she need most right now?
- The chance to shine.
So….dance party it is girl! No one knows this except my dogs and maybe my husband, but I have at least one dance party a day.
Needless to say, inner child work is very impactful and can change your world as you know it. I now recognize a stillness in me. A slight pause in almost everything I do as I quickly tap into my inner child. I frequently go to my 5 year old self, maybe it will evolve one day to another version of my inner child, but for now, she needs me most.
With this pause I award her and myself the grace to feel what we are feeling and to then make decisions and actions that are truly aligned with ourselves. We are in the process of fully healing our years and years of not feeling heard.
How can you love yourself more? What do you need most right now? Tap into your inner children to find out. Go on a journey with yourself.
And next time you find someone acting out irrationally, maybe you can see them in a different light, with more patience knowing that they to have inner children they need to revisit.