By David Joel Miller.
What would happen if you were able to find your inner child?
Most of us have some hurt and pain from things that happened when we were young. Some people have deep wounds and traumas, others have regrets and disappointments. Much has been written about working on your inner child issues. Some of us are looking to find that little child in us that needs loving and nurturing. Why is this process so hard?
Behaviorally oriented therapists and mindfulness practitioners might both agree there really is no inner child in us, though they conclude this for very different reasons. There is that sad, anxious wounded and immature part in many of us, which seems to say that there was something missing in our childhood, something we long for and need to be complete. Why can’t we find that inner child and give them a hug or a swift kick in the pants and solve this problem?
Behaviorists might tell us that there really is no inner child. Yes, I know that if you x-ray me there is no little creature lurking in there. They tell me that all I have are those memories of what it was like when I was a child. Not very accurate memories, I am told, as I was really young and got those facts wrong. That explains things sometimes, for a while.
Then something reminds me of that thing that happened that Christmas when I was 5 or the hurt from middle school and suddenly that little child part in me wants to cry.
Scientists assert that sometimes just trying to look at things changes them. Try to photograph a subatomic particle, start to measure it and you might change it. The looking for things alters them. I know that turning on the light in that old warehouse, the one full of cockroaches, results in them all scurrying for hiding places. The more lite you shine in there the harder the roaches are to find.
Is my inner child like that? Does looking for him somehow change him?
The mindfulness people remind me there really is no “me.” No-self they call it. There are lots of past selves and hopefully some future selves but right now the only me is the one I perceive and I know that this me will certainly change. The me of 1970 is not the me from 1990 and so on. Why is it so hard to let go of the notion that there is this one immutable me and become open to getting to know all the possible “me’s”?
So that friend from elementary school, she doesn’t exist anymore. Her place has been taken by a senior citizen with the same name and some of the same memories, but not the same body. My child is an adult now and my cat; she is not the same cat from way back when.
So while looking for an inner child may be tempting, it may be a whole lot more productive to spend some time getting to know the person you are today, before another day passes and you find you are changing again.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books