April 17th, 2017 / Jake White
We all want to feel whole and at peace. You may search for this wholeness and pursue it in your life, but what if it was already here with you? What if wholeness was a process of letting go rather than accumulating? The journey with the inner child is a process of looking at the intricacies of the soul in order to reclaim your joy and creativity. In this article you will identify the qualities of your inner child, discover experiences that may have made you distrust this part of yourself, learn about the light that was overlooked by your loved ones, and discover how you can reclaim it in your life. There is a joyful part of yourself waiting on the sideline that is never far away.
One of the first things you can do to identify your inner child is remember a time in which you were alive and excited in your life. As a personal example, while growing up on my family farm, it was my job to take care of the sick animals. I remember feeling an urgency to lay on the tile floor by the fire place at my childhood home and bottle-feed a cold and sick calf: reaching down and intently caring for them. I looked into its eyes with a sense of compassion. I wanted the calf to be strong in order to survive through a cold night and to be re united with its mother. When you conjure your inner child within these memories, it is important to identify what you were doing and the qualities that were shining through at that moment in time. When you identify your inner child, you are looking at the most fundamental part of yourself, which shows you the natural flow of your expression and how this currently wants to manifest in your life. While lying on the tile floor with a baby calf, the qualities of that little boy were care, compassion, focus, and love. As I identify these qualities, I can see they are currently expressed in my life through my practice as an energy healer, healing groups that I lead, and talks that I give. So as you identify a memory and your innate qualities, you can ask yourself: “Do I currently express those parts of myself in all aspects of my life?” If the answer is no, the next step is to identify what happened to this child that stopped you from living through these qualities.
When you look at this sense of separation, you are actually looking through the perspective of a child. This perspective currently influences the choices you make in your life. What has created separation in your past still influences you today. This separation is based on traumatic experiences where the inner child was not fully received. In order to realize what causes separation, you have to start with the most basic part of yourself: your inner child and the qualities that you fully embodied. From here you have to be open and curious as to what caused disruption to the natural flow of these qualities? To provide a personal example, once when I was a little boy, I was sitting on the side of a soccer field, watching adults play, and I remember feeling a sense of peace and wholeness. On the field, the grown men were clattering into each other and fighting for possession of the ball. My dad appeared out of the crowd of men and ran toward me. As my dad approached me, I immediately felt a sense of insecurity and confusion. I knew my dad was going to make me participate in the soccer match. Once my dad approached me, he knelt down and told me that I needed to be big, strong, ferocious, and confident. As he said this, he pointed toward another little boy urging me to be strong just like him. It was in this moment, I knew I needed to change in order to fit in with the soccer match, I had to change so my father would look into those eyes with approval. From this moment, I began to learn what I needed to do in order to find relief from the pain and confusion in which I was feeling. Separation is ultimately a form of coping with feelings that are painful as we learn to structure ourselves around avoiding this pain. When I look back at the little boy that felt the need to change in this instance of his dad looking him in the eyes, I can also see an opportunity to reconnect with a missing piece of myself. Yes, there are a million instances where the pain of not fitting in with my father and men influenced my life, but the value in this exercise is grabbing hold of that little boy who was sensitive and compassionate. The value of these memories is coming in contact with the pain of separation knowing, the moments of rejection are connected to that beautiful and pure aspect of yourself. When you go back to a memory in order to get in touch with your inner child, give yourself time to feel the pain in these situations, while knowing this is only part of the story. The reason you do this work is to reclaim the joy and excitement that lays in the eyes and heart of that young part of yourself. The pain that you open up to and become mindful of, lets this innocent part of yourself know that you are willing to stay present even during challenging times in your life. Traumatic experiences when processed in the body test you to be there for yourself in a new way, often times in a way that your parental figures were not able to recognize. The gift of being present for vulnerability is that it connects you to your innocence and draws in a deeper relationship with yourself. It gives you the chance to see all of the intricacies of your personality and the aspects of yourself that your parents over looked or did not fully cultivate. The link between sensitivity and your true qualities is priceless in the unfolding of your life.
From this step back into your memories, can you recognize some qualities with in yourself that your parents overlooked. For me this looks like sensitivity, compassion, gentleness, and affection. In my personal effort to be a strong, big, and confident male I lost these qualities of myself, which remained under developed in my life. When you look at the missing pieces within your soul, you are looking at aspects of yourself that have not flourished in your life. I always see myself picking this part of myself up and finding ways to cultivate it in my life. Can you do this for yourself by identifying this missing part while finding avenues of expression? What can you do in order to make room for this part of yourself in your life? In my story I found space through meditation, through long walks where I would bring my attention to my body, cultivating silence in my mind, journaling as I wrote about my feelings, groups where I was free to connect with others in an authentic way, and in my healing practice where I was able to express care and compassion for others.
Here are some steps to identify and cultivate the innate qualities of yourself
- Remember a time where you were joyful alive and excited as a child. What were you doing at this time in your life? Were you playing with a friend, connecting with nature, or on a vacation with your family? These are moments where you were able to be yourself and had a freedom of expression.
- Can you then remember how you lost this part of yourself? Was there an instance where your parents discouraged this connection with your body, or a moment where your aliveness was rejected by someone that was close to you? As you look into this situation can you begin to open your eyes to what your environment failed to cultivate? This may have led to developing certain aspects of yourself while leaving others underdeveloped. For some of us this is our sensitivity while in others it may be our aggression or wildness.
- Once you identify what was not seen and cultivated, can you find ways to express this part of yourself? Almost as if you are looking into those child's eyes and seeing into the little speckles of light that want to be expressed in your life. This could look like drawing, dancing, being silent and alone, or finding spaces to connect with others, searching for intimate relationships with others, or expressing rage, anger, and frustration. When you work with the inner child you are cultivating a space of acceptance through personal expression. You are able to be who you truly are with out dimming your light out of fear of rejection.
- The next step is to notice the positive ways in which people receive your authentic expression. This can be as simple as a smile as you walk past a stranger, or a friend thanking you for your honesty. Everyone wants to express past the boundaries of themselves and when people acknowledge us for our self expression they are recognizing something deep inside of themselves that wants so desperately to be free. Your effort to stretch yourself will never go unnoticed by those that want the same for themselves.
Working with the inner child is about looking into your own eyes and seeing the intricacies of your soul. You may have part of yourself that your loved ones could not fully see in you. The value of inner child work is the effort to reclaim these missing pieces within yourself, in order to have more balance and harmony within your life. It is so easy to look back into memories and recall the pain and disharmony, but inner child work is about coming close enough to your pain so you can see the little sparkles of light that wants to be expressed in your life. It is making peace with disconnection so you can finally grab ahold of that little boy or girl and give them what was missing in theirs and your life. It is bringing your gifts into the world for all to see and notice. The result is feeling a more whole and integrated self that belongs in the world.