I attended this dowry ceremony the other day and the master of ceremony was this elderly man who told us that he is now child-like. And it is true, he was talking serious things in a humorous, child-like, playful manner which made us all enjoy the greatly successful traditional rite. This got me thinking, is there a possibility that we all along carry in ourselves an inner child through our adult years and then grow back to be child-like as we age?
The answer is yes. Psychologists believe that there is an inner child in all of us, which is the source of our joy, playfulness, fun, humor, creativity, innocence, wonder, awe, sensitivity and spontaneity. An inner child who is free spirited.
In most cases, our inner child becomes evident during the holidays especially when you are having a good time with someone whom you feel completely free around. Our inner child becomes evident when we cry at a sentimental movie, when we enjoy playing with kid’s toys, when we wear clothes that were fashionable in our younger days but we did not get the chance to wear them, when we cry or grieve as adults for the losses we experienced in our past, or when we get sentimental looking at old photo albums.
During the growing up process many children undergo incidents which give birth to fear, and leave them wounded. These incidents are most often when they experienced the first case of rejection, abandonment, and failure as a human, such as falling and nobody picked them up, or getting some spanking because of eating at the neighbor’s house. They experienced failure because parents rarely praised them or validated their self-worth, but continually criticized and berated them, no matter how hard they tried to win their approval. They experienced rejection when they perceived, correctly or incorrectly, that their parents were disappointed at their being born, or when classmates ridiculed them when they borrowed text books which they could not afford them. They experienced abandonment when they were taken to boarding school too early where they were not expected to expose their emotions such as to cry if they were homesick.
The child, therefore, grows up locked subconsciously in the shame, guilt and fear that took place during the process of upbringing. The inner child is that part of us that holds onto the old wounds from our childhood. As we grow up into adults, we forfeit all or some of our wonderful, care-free childhood traits and behavior. But the inner child in us remains wounded, unfulfilled, unable to integrate itself into its adult self, and still seeking for healing and wholeness.
Our wounded inner child yearns love and many times feels that if we’re not perfect we are simply undeserving of love. We reject ourselves and even punish ourselves subconsciously. We try hard to live up to other’s expectations. We have this sense of obligation to always “look good” and “be good”, feeling that it is not safe to grow up, to accept love or to share feelings. The end result is that we develop a controlling behavior such as anger, blame, resistance, or substance addiction.
But it does not need to be this way. Regardless of how old we are, the little child in us desires, and deserves, to be accepted, loved, cared and nurtured. We can learn to discover our inner child and bring it back to wholeness. We can learn to release hurts of the past and bring back our inner child’s innocence. We can bring back the curiosity, wild self-expression and the continual pursuit for entertainment that we had as children.
A good starting point is by choosing to release the past by ridding ourselves of the many negative messages that adults taught us as children and learn to love ourselves. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are perfect, whole, and complete, just as we are. We can do this by communicating with the inner child and letting it know that we accept the part that did all the stupid things, the part that was funny, the part that was scared, the part that was foolish and silly, and every other part of ourselves.
We can then decide to do things the way we did when we were children. We can decide to forgive fast and move on, even after fighting, without keeping grudges, only needing short apologies. We can decide to have fun by keeping aside the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood, regularly. We can decide to create freely without thinking too much about our creativity, just expressing it, without caring that we will be judged, just following your instincts and creating and writing whatever comes to our minds and hearts. We can decide to not shut up about what we want just like we did when we were kids, to pursue our dreams and desires and not to take no for an answer as relentlessly and as passionately. We can decide to speak the truth always, just like a child, who will call it like it is, even if it’s very funny or embarrassing to those around.
When the inner child becomes healed and well, he or she integrates harmoniously with the adult. The individual becomes child-like, but not childish. He or she becomes both deeply serious and deeply playful at the same time. He or she acts with integrity and takes full responsibility for his or her feelings, thoughts, words and actions. He or she expresses him or herself freely without any blame, shame or judgment of self or others. He or she becomes fulfilled.
In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play – Friedrich Nietzsche
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up – Pablo Picasso
One of the virtues of being very young is that you do not let the facts get in the way of your imagination – Sam Levenson
In my soul there is an immortal kid refusing to keep up with my aging body – Shyma, @Shymalicious on Twitter
My sources are as follows and are acknowledged: