Is Your Inner Child Still Running Your Life?

At six years old, I was a wild little rascal who liked to try out studio wrestling moves on my unsuspecting friends.  I was fearless back then in an untamed kind of way.  But gradually my wild spirit got crushed in my upbringing.  em-adn-les

My Dad believed in the scared shitless variety of psychological punishment.  One time he got me good.  He had a friend with a black sedan pull up the drive way and told me they had come to take me to Morganza, the local reform school.  I believed him and I ran away and hid out I the woods until I thought it was safe to return.

Our conditioning is the cumulative affect of our upbringing and all the applied thoughts that shaped our version of who we think we are.

I’ve talked with hundreds of coaching clients about their upbringing and the norm was a general beating down.  We were not celebrated for the special beings that we are.  Often we were not encouraged to go for our authentic greatness but instead cautioned to play it safe.

Even then, as five and six year old children, we tried to make sense of this irrational parenting so we made up explanations.  Often what we made up had us feeling less than capable.

But those events really only had the meaning that we interpreted them to have.  The good news is that now we can go back and give those events new meanings that serve us well.

Now we can honor the little person within so that a stronger and wiser self if running our lives.

Your Inner Child As Hero

It truly is remarkable how you’ve turned out in spite of your upbringing. Look at the four choices we have in any challenging situation.  We couldn’t really remove ourselves because we were dependent on them.  Change wasn’t an option either.  Try working with an alcoholic parent to change your relationship.  Good luck there.

Acceptance wasn’t even a concept I could fully understand until my forties and many adults never learn it.  What was left?  Resistance, but even our resistance was thwarted.  It never got full expression, so the only thing we could do was to swallow it and turn it back in on ourselves.  As a result we made a series of false conclusions to try and make sense of things.

That’s why we need to write a whole new story about our childhood.  Your inner child is still influencing your capacity and in many cases right up to the limits of what you set for yourself in first and second grade.

But your inner child was and still is quite courageous.  Don’t you think it’s time to honor his or her courage?

Now You Know Better

As adults we are responsible for our destiny and that includes any and all needed adjustments on how we recall our history.

Truly, as tragic as it was, our parents did the best job that they were capable of at the time.  But now that you know better, it’s time to write a new life story.  It’s time to tell the truth to yourself about your remarkable capabilities.

Have a dialogue today with that little guy or gal (who is still within affecting your results) and allow him or her to understand what happened.  Talk it all through.  Explain that you made it all up in order to make sense of the world and now you know better.

Essentially recondition your conditioning.

Give it new meaning.  Give a new meaning that serves you well.  Here’s how to do that.  Your story needs to be strong enough to heal the little boy or girl within.

Give Her What She Needs Most

Imagine a spot where you sat and pondered in your home when you were six years old.  I sit with Little Tommy on the back porch steps and talk with him while he sits on my lap.

So sit with your little gal and talk with her.  Ask her what she needs.  Really get into imagining that you and her are sitting in a place at the home where you grew up.  Invite the dialogue;  she’ll welcome the opportunity to get it all out.

Don’t judge her, just give her all the time she needs to say everything that comes up.  If you cry, that’s very good, just let it all flow.   Some folks do well setting the scene and then writing out the questions and answers.  After she says what she needed, that she didn’t get back then, your job is to reassure her that all is well now.  Then give her what she needs to feel whole.

Tell her that you’ll give her the support, recognition, celebration or encouragement that she missed out on all those years ago.

Assure her that you will love her and acknowledge her and give her all that she needs.  Give her a closing hug and be sure she feels like she can come to you to talk things through any time.

Your inner child is still setting limits and running your life.  You might as well give her or him a new script to follow because you are the creator of your destiny.

Comments

  1. Great post Tom! The ancient and sacred Hawaiians know the true power of the Inner Child. The “Unihipili” is the intermediary between Source, Soul and Person and must be approached with care, dignity, gentleness and never co-erced.

    There is a great, easy exercise that I have used that really surprised me with the insight it provided:

    –sit quietly with a pad and pen or pencil or crayon
    –with your writing tool in your dominant hand, write a question or comment to your inner child (Hello is a good start)
    –then place the pen or pencil in your non-dominant hand (the one other than the one you write checks with) and write whatever comes to your mind
    –talk to this child as you would talk to a royal child, give her or him space to come to you when she/he feels it is safe. For many of us, it has been lifetimes since they have been acknowledged–like ragamuffin urchins we have neglected them and they are fearful and untrusting, sometimes despising of us, sometimes just sad and rebellious, doing anything to get attention (addictions to people, places and things). Allow both of you space and time to re-establish a friendship.

    The conversation that I had with my child was shocking, saddening, yet uplifting. She had been expecting me to stand up for her, protect her, engage her and talk to her. Now I listen to her, follow her guidance when something doesn’t ‘feel’ right, I act on it, to remove, change, accept or resist–usually I just notice, refocus, lighten up and deal with things, letting emotions (and sometimes the ugly face) flow through me.

    Realizing the past infractions to her, I now listen to her wisdom (the wisdom of the heart) and I have learned the awesome power she weilds in my life, communicating ‘truths’ to the Source of All That Is.

    Those truths were beliefs and points of focused awareness that were creating my life, over and over again. Through this exercise, and others, she and I have changed old ‘beliefs’ and adjusted my focus to be on what I want to see and live–rather than on the old soap-operas and complaining that had formerly been the point of creation. Once again we are the architect, the princess, the joyful flower-picker and frog catcher, the laugher at silliness, you get the picture.

    The Inner Child–the Unihipili–is nothing less than as magical as all life is. You are so right, Tom: honor and engage her/him. When you do, together you can focus your awareness on exactly what it is that we want to see and we will see it–“Seek and you shall find” is guaranteed always.

    All my best,

    Fawn

    Fawns last blog post..To Do List — Chop Wood and Carry Water

  2. I have many inner children. Recently, my teenage self has taking the wheels. I’m celebrating her independence and her belief that anything is possible.

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..Authentic Happiness Series – Part Five (Design Your Life)

  3. Thank you for this post, Tom. I really enjoyed reading it.

    “It truly is remarkable how you’ve turned out in spite of your upbringing.” That made me laugh – happily.

    You’ve inspired me to chat with my little gal soon. And I’m going to bring chocolate, that’ll get her to open up.

    Laurie | Express Yourself to Successs last blog post..The Importance of Greeting Others in the First 90-Seconds

  4. Well done, Tom and Tommy. I recently left a comment on another blog and talked about nurturing my inner child and about learning to meet her needs and how hard it was in the beginning to get her to trust me enough for her to come out. I talked about learning to play with her as we weren’t allowed to do much of that as a child. I would sometimes make play dates and just do fun things with her like wearing my hair in pig tails and sitting on the floor playing jacks like when I was in the second grade. My inner little girl loves the zoo. Playing can be an important part of healing your inner wounds.

    Fawn, thanks for sharing this great Hawaiian ceremony. I have done this type of writing with the dominant and nondominant hand with great results.

    Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworkers last blog post..My Name Is Chris And I Am Three Years Old

  5. Fawn – Greetings to you and Little Fawn. I seem to recall experimenting with the non-dominant writing as well. I’m betting it encourages us not to edit the responses before they are complete. I’ve been communicating with Little Tommy since I first saw a john Bradshaw special on PBS. It has served us both well.

    Stacey – I bet we all have many versions of ourselves competing for attention. I’m not so sure I’d want my teenager within to take control these days. 🙂 That would be a wild ride!

    Laurie – Chocolate sounds like a great idea that’s sure to work.. Go for it. You’ll be very happy that you did. One of the greatest benefits that I have found from this work is that it explains some of our irrational reactions and can even be used to get long-standing needs met.

    Patricia – Beautiful! Indeed it is glorious to provide what we missed all that time ago. What’s really cool is we get to positively affect our upbringing and that builds our confidence to create what we want in the now.

  6. I’ve found my inner child is sad…far from the ever-smiling toddler in photographs or even the often-smiling adult of today. I’ve found that the toddler’s authentic smile is now, sometimes, replaced with a smile to hide the sadness. While circumstances that I blamed for pain over the past few years have drastically changed for the better, pain is still there. Turns out, the pain wasn’t a result of the circumstances like I thought it was. My inner-child is what needs attention and healing now.

    Clems last blog post..Our Grandparents Would Have Understood Social Media

  7. Hi, Tom,

    My experience seems to be the opposite. Throughout my formative years, I was loved and accepted for exactly who I was at any given age, encouraged and praised for being myself. This allowed me SO much freedom! …freedom to question, seek, learn, grow. Freedom to just be me.

    As an adult, however, I was suddenly plunged into an alien environment. Oh. my. gosh. Judgement, competition, comparison, feeling out of step, as if I needed to reach for goals that belonged to others, and on and on…

    It has taken me many years to remember Little Julie and begin to honor her early life. And now I am once again living the same way she did: simply being me.

    All that to say, your beautiful image of sitting Little Tommy on your lap is so vivid! Thank you. No matter what comes my way in the future that could trip me, I’ll remember Little Tommy and Big Tom and ask Little Julie if she’d like some lap-and-hugs time, too. 🙂

    Masterful post!

    Julies last blog post..In Others’ Words, #2

  8. Deb Owen says:

    Love this post!!

    I remember discovering Byron Katie and her asking the question, “Who would you be without your story?”

    I was all, “Huh? But that IS my story.”
    Then I started looking at other perspectives. And the story changed. And that changed a lot of other things too.

    Thanks for this post!
    All the best!
    deb

    Deb Owens last blog post..being too nice (or when being nice is self-destructive)

  9. I never thought about having a conversation with my inner child. Sounds interesting. I have battled a fear of being abandoned and rejected. My poor mom, not knowing how to cope with 4 kids, pretended to call the orphanage to come get me. I didn’t realize she really wouldn’t go through with it and pleaded with her to not toss me away. So I’m not sure what the conversation with that little girl would look and sound like.

  10. Hi Tom – theses exercises are wonderful – thank you!

    I especially like this: “Now we can honor the little person within so that a stronger and wiser self is running our lives.” – honouring and acknowledging our inner child is not the same thing as being childish!

    I shall be making time to have a chat to my little gal sometime very soon – R

    Robins last blog post..Wanting To Look Young

  11. Suzanne @ vAssistant Services says:

    Tom,

    Just as our parents did the best job that they were capable of at the time, so did/am I with my own children. Accepting my parents and their parenting of me in that light has allowed me to forgive myself the mistakes I’ve made (and somehow continue to make, despite what I know) with my children.

    Where I feel truly blessed is in the knowledge that, unlike me, my children get to have conversations with their mom about spiritual stuff, about how to honor who you are in the face of a world that wants you to conform, about accepting people where they’re at and knowing that we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

    My three kids are 6 years apart in age (22, 16 and 10) and I’m in the interesting position of seeing my oldest struggle with some of the irrational parenting he had while my younger two are still home getting parented. Not only do I have to adjust for each child and who they are, but I get to adjust and correct some of the mistakes I made with my oldest before I make the same ones with the younger two.

    My oldest complains that the younger two have a better mom than he had. He’s right. But as I remind him frequently, the younger two don’t have what he’s got: an example of how to change the direction your life is moving in for the better, create a new life based on who you really are (as you discover who that is) and how to stand strong against all the forces in your lives that abhor change.

    If he’s still whining after that, I remind him that HE picked ME. 🙂

    Suzanne @ vAssistant Servicess last blog post..Easy Photo Editing with Picnik

  12. matthew says:

    thanks for this post and to all who commented…

    its really beautifull and i feel it helps me to see a way forward by talking and comforting the little guy inside me…

    thank you…

  13. Clem – Good realization buddy. Now do something about it and give Little Clemmie what he didn’t get while growing up. Just be a patient listener and he’ll open up and tell you what he still needs.

    Deb – Byron Katie’s stuff is so wonderfully challenging. Congrats on changing your story to suit your current needs.

    Julie – That’s wonderful, I’ve met one other person who has had a glorious childhood. Good work on bringing her forth for strength.

    Laurie – his is exercise will be very fulfilling for you. Just do it. There is no right or wrong way. Let her speak and be heard and take it from there.

    Robin – Do come back and tell us what she said. It can be quite inspiring in a connect the dots kind of way.

    Suzanne – Indeed. Each of us has a duty to enhance our parenting skills past then point of our parents. We know what works and what doesn’t and that gives us the duty to improve. That’s right your oldest gets the love now and the the great example of how to do it well and not so well. He made a good his with you as his Mom.

    Mathew – Welcome. Give the little guy what he wants and needs. It will serve you well.

  14. When I was young I was often puzzled and sometimes sad. The world was puzzling, especially people, and no one explained it to me. So, I have an interest in psychotherapy. . .

    Thanks for such a clear explanation of the process, this is a very valuable post.

  15. Tom,

    This was a very insightful and instructional post, but most of all it felt gentle to me. I like your idea of creating a new story and I like the idea of being the creator of my own destiny.

    Thank you for this excellent post:~)

    Saras last blog post..You Can Reach Beyond Your Fear

  16. Evan – Join the club buddy. Most of us were confused and adults usually do a piss poor job of explaining things. But now you are more mature you get to re-write that past and recreate your history.

    Sara – Thanks Sara, you’re right; my exercises are often not so gentle. This one is very loving and it works wonders.

  17. Yes, my inner child is still running my life and he’s out of control and I’m glad.

    I think there’s a curiosity and growth mindset that comes with the turf. I think the key in adult-hood is keeping those traits and continuing to test your results and test your limits and expand your experiences and ability to make things happen.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..How To Design A Fulfilling Life

  18. Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching says:

    Thanks for this post. I find that another great way to become aware of the child inside and how it’s affecting my life is to notice how my body instinctively responds in different situations — do I find myself getting tight somewhere, avoiding eye contact with someone, and so on? That’s the little boy trying to keep himself safe, and from that place I can inquire into what’s going on and what the perceived danger is.

  19. J.D. – Your inner child sounds like a wonderful guy. I’m glad you can embrace his curiosity and other powerful aspects that serve you well.

    Chris – So true. That’s why it’s so powerful to do this healing work while imagining the same environment in which we grew up. Even better when we can pay a visit to our old stomping grounds and express our stronger selves while there. I just love walking in the same woods where I walked as a 10 year old.

  20. Barbara says:

    Thank you for a meaningful post and bless your inner child! I spent a long time ignoring my inner child. The little blonde girl spent many a late night perched on the top step of the stairway believing that if she was perfect and good enough she could influence the events that followed the drunken arrival of her father. Later in life, a therapist helped me to know her, accept her, and love her. Most importantly, I let her off the hook of not being perfect. Your words are an eloquent reminder that it has been awhile since I checked in with her.

  21. Barbara – Do check in with her and give her a hug from me. I’ve truly come to believe that we cannot love ourselves too much or accept ourselves too often.

  22. I have learned a lot from my inner child. It’s amazing how even though we grow older and become more mature (hopefully) we are still the same basic person we were as a young child and out minds operate in the same way. Excellent post full of insight.

  23. I think your inner child is absolutely essential. Having the freedom of mind that a child does, and possibly the naivety of life is great for creativity and enthusiasm – in my opinion two of the essential parts of being a successful business person.
    [rq=5853,0,blog][/rq]Your summer family festival guide

  24. Vera Bradley says:

    Thanks for a wonderful article. I think all people should let lose their inner child every once in a while.

  25. I’m really a big kid at heart. I think sometimes, we as adults should just relaxe a bit and be big kids every once in a while.

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