By David Joel Miller.
Have you misplaced your inner child?
The idea of having an inner child, and inner child work, comes and goes. Somehow this idea strikes a responsive chord in people even though there is scientific proof that there really is no inner child in any of us.
By inner child, we do not mean that there is some little creature lurking in us waiting to be fed. That makes for great Sci-Fi movies but not much reality.
All your “parts” do not grow up at the same rate.
What we should be looking for are those developmental stages, those things you should have learned as you grew up that somehow you missed out on. Look also for those good qualities that you left behind in your efforts to be “all grown up.”
Memory’s can be feeling instead of facts.
Not all our memories are filled neatly away in our heads. Some of those memories are emotional ones and those are kept throughout our bodies.
We know if you act in certain ways you are more likely to have certain feelings. Get a group of people together and have them laugh for no good reason and before long you will all be feeling happy.
So where do these phantom memories, those emotional pains from long ago, come from if not from some theoretical inner child.
You inner child did not get everything right.
One way of explaining this inner child legend is that many adult problems are the result of things that we learned between the ages of say 5 and 15 that may have worked then but do not work now.
What if the things that you learned emotionally in 3rd grade about the opposite sex or about yourself turn out to not be true?
The person who is repeatedly told they are fat, despite looking perfectly normal, even a little thin, is likely to grow up thinking they are fat and to repeatedly try to diet and lose weight. If you learned the untruth that you were fat as a child you may develop a truly terrible adult eating disorder.
Some counselors call this unfinished business, those experiences of pain, sadness acceptance and rejection that we learned in childhood, but are not able to work out as we transition into adult beings.
One danger in doing too much of the so-called “Inner child work.” Is that the more you go over a lesson of something you got wrong, the more firmly entrenched that wrong answer becomes embedded in your brain.
If you keep telling yourself “I am stupid” because as a child people repeatedly called you stupid or fat head, you may develop a personal story in which you continue to tell yourself that you are stupid. And as we all know stupid is as stupid does.
Pay attention to your self-talk.
For good or bad our brains believe what we repeatedly tell them. So if you tell yourself you can’t, you will not be able to. If you tell yourself you can, you very likely will be able to do so, as every little child learned from that little engine.
Be careful what you tell your brain you will be able to do. If you tell yourself you will fly make sure you head for the airport not jump off a roof and leave the gravity defying to hard flapping of your arms.
If you sometimes find yourself crying like a little child for no apparent reason. If you have very immature feelings at times, don’t pay for a cat scan to find your inner child. Instead go back and look at the things you should have learned at each developmental stage and then if there were emotional lessons you did not learn, work on them.
Did you outgrow fun?
One other thing that people mean when they say they have inner child work to do is that they had some characteristics when they were young and they have lost them along the way.
If life used to be fun and it isn’t anymore. If you used to be more creative and you have lost that skill, then get in touch, not with the behaviors of the little child, but the emotions and the ways of seeing.
Practice a child-like mindset.
Try looking at everything in life as if this was the first time you had seen it. Begin each day with that curiosity you once had and you will find that everything will look new and fresh 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
- The voices in your head – depression, anxiety, and fear – they lie (counselorssoapbox.com)
- When your mind magnifies your problems (counselorssoapbox.com)
- More on how to be happy (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Mental Health Monsters – Depression and Anxiety (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Could you use some help? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Do emotional problems, depression and anxiety, time travel? (counselorssoapbox.com)