The feeling is familiar.
The remorse, regret…shame even; the voice in my head is stern, reprimanding, critical.
I have let her out again—no, that’s not accurate. She broke out, bursting forward, running amuck in my life before I could stop her. Making a mess that I was going to have to clean up.
A mess that I was going to have to own, to fix, to be accountable for.
From the outside looking in, it might look like I have it all together—I might even look like I have arrived. Now in my mid-thirties, I have managed to amass an impressive listing of titles or labels: Woman. Wife. Friend. Mother. Coach. Author. Teacher. Speaker. Facilitator.
I am living my dream, standing at the precipice of infinite possibility. I am in love with life, no…with living.
Please know that I am very aware of these words can’t begin to describe the truth of me; they aren’t who I really am. But they are words that we humans have developed so that we can try to describe ourselves, to find some common ground, a sense of shared understanding.
In other words, all of these words try to describe me, but they certainly don’t define me.
What’s more, not only is this list of labels short in comparison to all of the other categories that I could add, but it is missing an all-important one—something that most adults would not add to their listing.
I am referring to the word child.
You see, even as an adult, I am someone’s child. We all are. What an interesting paradox of our human journey; occupying both roles, adults and children, all at the same time. Even if you are a grandparent, or if your parents have long passed, this will remain true.
It is an intense experience, the parent-child relationship. Some of my greatest learnings, my life’s most cherished and important opportunities for personal development, have arisen as a result of becoming a parent.
Whether you have stepped into the role of parent or not, you are someone else’s child. And this child-like identity, your inner child, is still with you—it is within you. This child has helped to shape you into the adult that you have become…and that you are becoming.
In essence, this child is at the foundation of your being.
These days, and for the most part, my inner child is quiet. She lies sleeping within me, allowing herself to go almost completely unnoticed as I go about the day-to-day happenings of my life—I live my life as a strong, confident, adult woman.
But every once in a while, my inner child wakes up and pokes her nose into my business. Sometimes, when I am really awake and aware, living in the present moment, I notice her subtle cues and I am able to acknowledge her in a way that is mature and kind, compassionate and loving; perhaps I will allow her a chance to write her feelings in my journal, or even voice her feelings to a trusted friend.
When I do this, when I allow her to be heard, she is usually contented enough to retreat again, settling back into her state of peaceful dormancy.
Other times, especially when life gets busy, I neglect to fully notice her; I forget to indulge her. I push her away and fail to give her a voice.
I miss the tell-tale signs that she is subtly sending me. When this happens, she eventually forces her way out. She takes over. And I find my normally mature, logical, put-together, grown-up self acting like a total child. Sometimes, the energy of that child-being is about eight. Other times, she shows up as a teenager; 12, 14 or 16.
I find myself reacting from this place, embodying this child-like energy. Whether it be with my friends whom I have perceived have left me out in some way, or my own mom, whom I perceive is loving me second, I am completely identified with the story that this child is telling, is bringing into being.
Have you ever watched yourself give in to this inner child? Driven by a compulsion to act in a way that is childish and immature?
It happens. But then what?
For me, the game becomes: how quickly can I pull myself back to center? Back to the present? To the truth?
And when I do manage to find myself again, my adult self, what then? How do I assess the damage? Undo it? Make it right?
On my journey, I have learned to simply acknowledge my inner child (or children!)—to love whichever version of my inner child that has stepped forward.
I forgive her; I forgive myself. And if need be, I apologize, sharing my true vulnerability with the person(s) involved.
It is all perfect, after all.
Reacting to a situation, especially in such a child-like way is a strong message from your soul and is an opportunity to deepen into your experience of self-love and of self-acceptance.
A chance to remember that you are worth loving.
Maren Hasse is a life coach, facilitator and author of the upcoming book FIERCE Integrity: A Course in Living Your Truth. Her mission and passion in life is to assist others in seeing the truth of themselves; to realize that who they really are is so much better than who they think they should be. You can find her on her website or send her an e-mail at: email@example.com.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise