It always fascinate me how themes will come up again and again in my coaching work with clients. Over the last two weeks or so, we’ve had lots of juicy conversations about connecting with self and giving your inner child space to be heard.
That term – inner child – has become a bit cliché. Some roll their eyes at the mention, so I’m conscious and careful with how I approach the topic with each person. After all, so much of coaching is about meeting people where they’re at so they feel safe and understood.
Regardless of what you call it, reconnecting and understanding that younger part of you is powerful work. So often in our lives, the 5- (or 6 or 9) year-old is running the show and we don’t even realize it. Instead, we beat ourselves up for being too sensitive, afraid, or unmotivated.
Think about a time when you:
- Had a meeting with your boss to go over your review and you were nervous
- Had to disappoint someone by declining an invitation or saying no to a request
- Wanted to ask a family member for help and feared hearing “no”
- Got into an argument with your spouse and felt abandoned or alone
- Had to set a boundary with a friend and you felt terrified
When strong emotions are up, that’s a good indication that your little one is at the forefront, yet none of those examples above is appropriate for a child to handle. By simply recognizing when your inner child is calling out is a great opportunity to self-parent and let him or her know that you’ll handle this; that they can go back to playing/resting/creating.
I remind my kiddo that all’s well by quietly saying to myself, “It’s all good. I got this.” Because I have put action behind those words enough times, she can trust me to believe it. So now, when I say it, I can feel her relax almost immediately.
When you try to run from your emotions by stuffing them down with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, housework, busy tasks, etc, you are essentially telling your inner child to shut up; that you’re not interested in what he or she is saying or feeling. This, my friend, is a very temporary (not to mention, damaging) solution.
By avoiding your feelings, she needs to work harder to get you to pay attention. That’s when the whispers quickly escalate to crisis. The uneasy feeling inside becomes a stomachache. The subtle rumbling of fear becomes a full-blown panic attack. The frustration you feel at work becomes so unbearable that you just want to quit.
I’m sure you’ve either witnessed or been at the receiving end of a child in the grocery store, trying to get his mother’s attention:
“mom? Mom? Mom? MOM? MOM? MOOOOOM???”
He gets louder and louder until she answers him, and as soon as she does, his tone of voice quiets. He’s been heard.
The same goes for your inner child. Whether he or she communicates to you through emotion, anxiety, physical symptoms, etc, all you need to do is show up and be there for her; let her feel heard. There’s no need to fix anything, solve anything, or help make the emotion go away. By doing any of those, you’re actually shutting her up again.
Think of it this way: One of the main complaints women have about their husbands is their inability to really listen; that they tend to offer solutions and want to fix whatever’s bothering her. While this is his way of showing he cares, often times the woman hears it as evidence of his not being interested in her feelings and wanting them to just go away. She feels that her needs are being tossed aside.
Well, guess what? The same goes with you and the little one. Ignore the whisper and she’ll be sure to get your attention some other way.
All of your beliefs (both blocking and empowering) are held in this young place. He or she is the one who feels emotions deeply – fear, excitement, sadness, guilt, joy – and by allowing the space for those emotions to be felt and receiving them with love, you create an unbelievably safe place and the two of you become unstoppable partners!
There is no more powerful team in creating the life of your dreams than that of you and that beautiful, young soul within. He or she holds the master key to everything you want in life.