A discussion yesterday reminded me of this old blog of mine (again, couple of other posts have too) i've been meaning to share here.
NEVER TOO LATE FOR A HAPPY CHILDHOOD
You probably know the usual suggestions for nurturing your inner child: Blow bubbles, play jacks or hopscotch or jump rope. Read Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein--ALOUD, with feeling! Squish mud between your toes &/or fingers, jump in puddles. What fun...and very common.
Illuminating, healing though perhaps not so fun:
*Do something you stopped doing because 'everyone' said (or you perceived) you did it badly: Sing, dance, draw/color...whatever, just do it for yourself at least.
*Do something you stopped doing (even tho you did it well) because you got the message it was 'frivolous' or 'unproductive' or there is some trauma associated with it. You can redefine as productive any activity that gives you a sense of satisfaction or joy...whether it generates income/praise or not. You can break the link between the activity and the trauma. You can reclaim the activity as a positive one.
*Give yourself permission (even if temporarily) to feel whatever you feel, even the 'negative' emotions (fear, pain, anger) FULLY before you examine the precipitating event for lessons. Cry, fume, rant and laugh hysterically with equal abandon. Don't expose any actual young children to the 'negative' stuff would be my only limit. Find/make some private time/space to do it. You can’t ‘let it go’ till you recognize, acknowledge what 'it' is exactly.
*Trust your instincts about people/situations! One could write volumes about the damage done by parental messages that we don't know our own bodies and feelings: From eating and sleeping disorders to our expectations of relationships to the number of children who fall prey to abuse because their parents made it clear that adults' desire to touch them outweighed any discomfort they felt at being touched by certain adults (hug aunty, kiss uncle--no matter what the kid feels). If someone's feelings are hurt, sorry but better their feelings than your body (read Dr. Gavin de Becker's 'Gift of Fear').
Let me be clear: i don't subscribe to the idea that it is ONLY the tough stuff that helps us grow, but the tough stuff is necessary to deal with: Sometimes we have to embrace our inner child and explain that 'closure' in the usual sense may not be possible (those that hurt us may be gone or not ever acknowledge what they did), but progress is.
Balance is crucial. Ever try to balance on a see-saw (teeter-totter) with another person? You rarely just push up and POOF, perfect balance. You go up and down a while, adjusting how strongly you push off, with much depending
the relative weights of each person, until it's achieved. Finding psychological and spiritual balance can be like that...but it is yourself (the child &/or teen you were) opposite you...you have to assess weight and strength to know how you should act to find balance. Balance in general is a good thing, but not what teeter-totters were designed for, and maybe not what life was meant to be either, much as i love the idea of balancing work/play, thought/action.
Another fun suggestion: Reclaim something that made you feel good as a child, an object or activity, even a sensory thing. For me being outside feeds the inner kid well, but when i can't get out the aroma of Crayola crayons is comforting, the essence of the happier parts of childhood. For over 10 years i've kept a box on my nightstand so i can take a whiff now and then. Aroma is a powerful memory trigger of not just objects and events but of feelings.
And always remember that the adult you are now is as deserving of love, respect and understanding as the child you were. And if you didn't get it then...you can still claim it now, you can provide it for yourself if need be, but you can also value yourself enough to seek out friends who value you.
© efbarmore 2009