My childhood was far from the ideal cookie-cutter-picket-fence childhood. Whose is really?
My parents loved me with everything they had, but I was a child of a nasty divorce. As a young, sensitive child, I didn’t feel heard or seen, and granted, there were many times that I wasn’t. So I took on the belief that “I had no reason to be here.”
My little self, and this little belief, needed a solution. Innocently enough, I mastered people pleasing to get the attention I required.
The older I got, the less fulfilled I felt by pleasing others. The need for approval became an addiction. At first it was with my competitive swimming; I tried out for the Olympics at 17. Other people’s approval was at an all time high, and so was I.
When I got into the party scene, and model industry, that hunger to be fulfilled, accepted, seen and heard had me slowly losing control of my life. I sabotaged myself with addiction, disordered eating, dysfunctional relationships, debt and many toxic situations.
After hitting my own rock-bottom, I decided a self-love journey was the only solution. When I started to take responsibility for this chaotic life I led, I realized there was one common denominator: me. So I started asking myself the hard questions like: why do I always make everyone around me happy, at the expense of my well-being?
As I explored the different concepts and healing modalities, “Healing My Inner Child” was presented to me. Easily I dismissed this notion, thinking, well that sounds silly, what about now? Isn’t it funny, how the things we sometimes need the most, we so easily dismiss.
As I started to explore myself, examining the depths of “why I do what I do,” I realized my inner child was very much present. She was upset and hurt, and the concept of her not having a reason to be here was keeping me silent, unable to stand up for myself, or what I believe in.
The thing is, we all have different painful experiences through our life. These experiences create a belief system that continues to play out repeatedly. What problems keep playing themselves out in your life and why?
It took me a long time to realize that I was trying to fill a void I felt from the outside in. Whether it was someone’s approval, a new outfit, or a fad diet, I had an insatiable hunger beyond my understanding. I wanted people to like me, because I didn’t know how to like myself. After a few years of visiting my inner child, letting those emotions be expressed, and waking up every morning trying my best to love myself now and then, I can tell you “healing my inner child” has been the most profound thing I have done.
Take some sacred time, close your eyes, and visualize your younger self. How does she or he look? What does that little person want to say? How does she/he feel? How can you give this child nurturing love that may not have been provided in the past? You may cry, sometimes it won’t feel good, but trust that this is necessary to work through that hurt.
The more sacred time I dedicated to my younger self, the better I felt each day. The easier it became to move past bad choices, and make choices that truly reflected the love I felt for myself.
We get told to love ourselves, and get over the past. If we haven’t healed that hurt, it will show up in everything we do in our present. We are a sum of all our experiences. You may not be able to change what has happened, but you can change your perspective on it.
Author: Adrienne Ford
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Davidlohr Bueso/Flickr