That was me! During the week I took off, my inner child played with my 10 year old granddaughter’s outer child. We had fun, pure unadulterated fun.
I had no schedule, no deadlines, no “must do.” Was I just wasting time? Shouldn’t I have been teaching her something?
In our culture there is an entrenched belief that leisure is wasteful. Paradoxically then, for some, “fun” can be stressful.
As a child, unfortunately, that was the message I received. “What do you need it for?” was the question I often got when given the opportunity to just have fun.
What exactly is the inner child?
The inner child remembers both the ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ sides of the infant and toddler experience, the unmet needs and suppressed emotions as well as our innate innocence, creativity, and joy.
My task as a therapist is to help clients acknowledge their inner child, and to recognize the events from infancy and childhood that caused them pain. By bringing these past traumas to the surface, their impact on our life as an adult can be identified, understood, and altered.
Perhaps your parents withheld love, awarding it only when you were the prim, perfect child. To cope with the authoritarian environment, your feelings of rebellion and anger had to be repressed. As we get older, however, the child’s coping strategies no longer work, and the bottled-up emotions begin to bubble over. You become an adult being run by the 7 year old part of you.
Separating the behavior of the adult from the unconscious feelings of the inner child is more than an intellectual process. The body’s central nervous system is the storage closet for the tension, anger, frustration and other emotions that the inner child has kept hidden. To heal fully, it’s essential to complement talk therapy by easing the physical body’s distress when those emotions are triggered.
The theory behind this somatic therapy is that the mind and body (and spirit) are related and connected to each other. As a result, when triggered by the stress of repressed emotional trauma from the past, bodily distress as well as emotional pain, is felt.
Using mind/body techniques such as EMDR, breathwork, hypnosis and yoga, (and playing with your granddaughter) new, inclusive strategies for clearing the residual emotional energy can take hold. With practice, the inner child’s feelings of shame, guilt and fear are transformed into compassion and joy.
So let the agenda of the past go and meet me at the water slide!