Imagine this. You are seven or eight years old. You’ve had a good day at school and came back home with exciting news. You can’t wait to share it with your parents. During dinner when your parents are seated at the table, you tell them this exciting news. It goes like this. ‘Daddy, Mommy, we are going on a school trip to <place>. It’s gonna cost $x,00 and all my friends are going. I want to go too.’
Depending on your family situation, you might have heard any of the below. ‘No, you can’t go because….’
- ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’
- ‘I’m not sure if it is safe for me to send you alone on a trip’
- ‘Our budget doesn’t allow for things like these’
- ‘Trips are for rich people’
- ‘<Insert an excuse you heard from your parents>’
If you’ve experienced something like this over and over, by the time you become an adult, your mind would have formed any number of beliefs including
- Money is scarce
- I cannot spend money on fun things
- Only rich people can travel whenever they want
- I am not allowed to spend money on travel
- I need to be a rich person to be able to go on trips (what does rich even mean?)
This is just one example. There are so many instances that can deeply impact you in your childhood. This is why a lot of our challenges in adulthood can stem from our childhood beliefs.
Let me be clear. I am a parent and I might have instilled some limiting belief(s) in my children. As parents, we all do the best we can for our children. Even when parents do cruel things, it is not because they want to, it is because that is what they know and have experienced in their life.
But growing up and being an adult means it is up to us to do the inner work, to heal the inner child. Even children of millionaires might have to do this work to heal their inner child (e.g. lack of love from parents).
The loss of our inner child is often accompanied by shame, guilt, confusion and anxiety. It can lead to persistent headaches, stomach aches and various unexplained illnesses. It can fracture relationships, sabotage friendships and make us shy away from new opportunities. This is why it is important to heal our inner child.
There are three words that come to me when I talk about embracing our inner child – love, curiosity and compassion.
Here is a small exercise you can do to re-connect with your inner child.
- Find a picture of your younger self, when you were 7 or 8 years old.
- Sit quietly, so you can let the images and memories come to you.
- Now, visualise your adult self sitting next to your younger self, holding hands or with a hand on the shoulder.
- Ask her what she needs, what she wants and what is missing. Ask her what needs to be done for her to feel free and complete.
- Reflect on the answers that come to you.
When you do this sort of work, you will treat yourself with greater love. Your adult challenges can be navigated with the knowledge that it is the inner child craving for recognition, and you don’t need to look outside to pacify the inner child. That you have the power to soothe your inner child and lead a courageous life.
Does this resonate with you? If this strikes a chord with you, I would love to hear from you. If you would like help with some of this work, it will be my pleasure to help you with it through coaching.