Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Care and Feeding of Your Inner Child

As babies and children, we all enter this world in our natural, unpolluted state of pure love and joy. Until the world teaches us otherwise, we don't know anything different. We have to be taught to be afraid, to be ashamed, and to feel guilty and bad about ourselves and others. I am realizing how still-present those small children are in all of us. Our outsides may say "grown-up" but inside that little 4 or 5 year old boy or girl is still very much alive, still with us. I'm realizing that it's my responsibility (no one else's) to take care of that little girl and if I don't, I can become emotionally "needy." (And no one wants to be THAT person!)

But in today's hectic modern world one's inner child often gets lost in the shuffle. We spend tremendous energy caring for the needs of partners, husbands, wives, children, aging parents, grandparents, and very little caring for our own. However, it's similar to the speech the flight attendant gives on every flight "If for some reason the oxygen mask drops, put your own on first then take care of others." We have to care for ourselves first so that we can take care of the others who depend on us! If we keep giving and giving but never stop to fill up our own inner "well," guess what? The well runs dry and no one gets taken care of.

Think of taking care of your inner child in the same terms as you would your own children. It's your responsibility to make sure she eats well. (If I left my food decisions up to my inner child I would have pie, cake, and ice cream for a steady diet!) It's your responsibility to ensure that she gets fresh air, sunshine, and enough sleep. You wouldn't hesitate to make a sick child stay home and rest, or go to a doctor, so why not care for yourself the same way? It's up to us to make sure our inner child has friends and gets to spend time with them. Our "little girls" need to have FUN, and they need to play! And remember when the now-dreaded "exercise" came naturally because we were out "playing"? Instead of forcing ourselves to do the prescribed "one hour cardio and weights three (or four, or five!) times a week," how about finding something that we love doing, that we love PLAYING so that we actually want to go out and do it, as much as possible?

Joy is our birthright. Life is supposed to be enjoyed, the world is meant to be your playground. It's important to your inner child to have joy in your life, to have things to look forward to in the long run, but also daily and weekly. If you need inspiration about how to do this, think back to your childhood and what brought you joy then. Here are a few questions to help get your "Joy Juices" flowing:

When you were a child~ Where did you live? Who were your friends? What were your pets and their names? What sports did you play? What arts, crafts, or hobbies did you enjoy? What other activities did you love? Now examine your answers and ask yourself which of these you might like to rediscover now? Maybe you loved playing kickball. Did you know there are adult kickball leagues all over the country now? Or maybe you remember learning to knit and might want to take it up again. It could be that you'll think of things you've always wanted to try but haven't had a chance to yet. The point is: life is short, find what brings you joy and DO IT!

Taking good care of our inner child is so important because it makes us feel loved. If we take good care of our inner little ones, we won't be looking for others to do it for us. When we feel loved, it is easy to love others without expectation, which creates more love in the world! And that's always a good thing...

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