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“Growing up is not just about moving forward, but also an endless cycle of returning to our childhood wonders and wounds.” ~ Silvery Afternoon, All I hear is the symphony
I’ve been stalling writing this piece for quite some time now.
Probably because just like so many others, even I find it hard to get in touch with my inner child and have a conversation because having a simple conversation means opening up a Pandora’s Box that becomes hard to close and that leaves you feeling fragile. So fragile, that you might break with just a sigh.
Yet, sometimes having that conversation is necessary.
In fact, for a major part of our adult lives, this is the most significant conversation that we’ll ever have, and we’ll need to have such conversations repeatedly.
It would be great if life came with an erase button. Then whatever we’ve gone through, we could just erase from our memories and stop those events and incidents from creating a dent in our identity.
No matter how much work we’ve done on ourselves, something will keep showing up. No matter how much we piece ourselves together to form a new version of ourselves, something will pop up and cause a dent at some time.
While life doesn’t come with an erase button, it does come with an option—to choose if we want to succumb to the narrative of ourselves created by those events or incidents or to create a new one and let some dents be.
Those dents and cracks also tell us about the spaces we need to fill and the directions we need to grow in because life isn’t either-or. It’s actually about “and.” Paradox is a given in life. So many opposing things tend to co-exist. Wherever there is a choice, there is a responsibility; with growth, there is risk.
Similarly, we can be whole and complete and have parts of us that feel broken or unhealed. That is why we are all the sum total of our parts, and we have so many parts of us that yearn to be heard, seen, and tended to.
And yes, after reaching a certain point in life, we need to use our awareness about ourselves to tend to these parts that tend to get scattered here and there.
As much as we would want someone else to come and hold us with that kindness and compassion, we need to be able to do that for our own self because if we don’t learn to do that, not only will it turn us into emotional scavengers, but it will also keep us deprived of the understanding of what it is that we really want for ourselves.
We need to be able to reach within and have these soothing conversations with our inner children so that we can validate them the way they truly need to be.
We all carry our own vacuums. Some are small and some are like giant craters! Whether we like it or not, we do end up coming face-to-face with them at some point, and in those craters lie those little versions of us that are simply calling out. When they do call out, it’s time for us to step up and tell them things they’ve been wanting to hear.
“We ignore the child within by ascribing its voice to immaturity rather than validating its heart as honest.” ~ Craig D. Lounsbrough
There are some crucial things that our inner child craves and it’s important to be able to tell that child:
I love you.
You are wise!
You are safe. I am here for you.
You deserve all the goodness in the universe.
You are amazing!
I am proud of you!
So what if you made a mistake! It’s okay. Now tell me, what did you learn from it?
I know you’re hurting and I’m with you.
I will always be there for you.
Life may not always be fair. But no matter what, you’ve got this!
It’s okay to feel scared. We’ll get through this.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I promise, I’ll never leave your side.
And there can be so much more that can come up every now and then.
Sometimes our inner child may want to be pampered; sometimes they may want to just hug us and sit. Sometimes they may come crying to us because no one on the outside would listen.
At times, the two (or more) of us will brainstorm crazy ideas to take on the world, and on other occasions, we could simply snuggle under a blanket and watch silly stuff!
That child inside of us is really asking for safety, connection, vulnerability, affection, attention, and respect. It’s reaching out so that we can tend to its hurt and pain in a way that no one ever could or perhaps would.
Being there for little parts of us enables us to become whole. But when we deny the existence of these parts or ignore or avoid them, their cries inside of us become louder with time and we keep hurting. Yes, having such vulnerable conversations isn’t easy, but neither is not having such a conversation at all!
“She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.” ~ H Raven Rose, Shadow Selves
As adults, our journey is about being able to regulate our emotions and align them with our actions. But we can’t do that until and unless we have been able to reconcile with these lost, broken, confused, hurt parts of us that are roaming around with our unfulfilled needs.
When we are able to do that for our selves, we begin to hold our emotions with awareness and maturity and can choose the actions that lead us to create a better life.
“Everything seemed possible, when I looked through they eyes of a child.
And every once in a while; I remember,
I still have the chance to be that wild.”
~ Nikki Rowe
While kids need to run toward protective figures to get their needs met, as adults, we need to be able to run to our own selves first because before we run to anybody else, it’s important to take the first step in our own direction so that we can understand what we need and what’s the best way to fulfill that for ourselves. This in turn will enable us to even choose the people we want to be with.
We need to be able to love ourselves the way we would want to be loved by someone else.
At the end of the day, being an adult is not really about “growing up” or “acting maturely.” Rather, it is about being able to honor the children within us and help them to navigate the world outside.
For we will always be little kids stuck in adult bodies—asking, yearning, craving for love, warmth, connection, affection, and much more.
We just need to learn to love ourselves more, and that’s the journey and the destination in itself.
“Some day you’ll be old enough to read fairy tales again.” ~ C.S. Lewis
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