What is the inner child? How many of us have heard that expression tossed around without really knowing what the heck an inner child is? I certainly have :). For many years I would hear the term frequently without having a good sense of what it meant. I spent a long time wondering.
I still haven't quite figured it out - but I have an idea. I have my best guess, based on learning from experts on the inner child, or even inner children, plural (who knew? :). It seems to me that the inner child represents something. It represents a part, or parts of us who feel vulnerable. I think that's the key - that we all have vulnerabilities (even marvel action heroes have flaws!) and these vulnerabilities can feel like little children inside.
Is there any use to this though? Wouldn't acknowledging that we're all babies inside just make us feel MORE vulnerable? Well, you would think - but actually, interestingly in my experience at least, when we acknowledge a vulnerability inside, it makes us feel more supported, cared for, seen, and then consequently LESS vulnerable. Crazy right?
I understand and accept there's a weirdness here - especially I have to say if you're a male not used to nurturing. The idea of a little baby Justin inside sucking his thumb crying out for mommy while holding his banky - not too appealing, not super hunky or masculine...yes, this is true. However, and this is a HUGE however - you know what else is not appealing? Neglecting the vulnerable parts inside and then getting triggered over EVERYTHING. Or pushing all the vulnerability down so far that it goes into the body and smacks us in the face as a painful symptom. I've learned this over the years - you can't run from your own vulnerability. You can't hide from it. If you neglect the "inner child" you, and those around you, will pay the price. This is simply the truth.
If you want to be consistently upbeat, healthy, positive, fun, active, and motivated, you must eventually deal with your stuff. If you don't, it will come back to haunt you. It might takes years...even decades. But that's no fun. So EMBRACE the inner vulnerability. It does not make you weaker. It makes you that much STRONGER. Especially as a man, crying in a vulnerable way in front of others is one of the scariest things to do. It takes tremendous strength and confidence to allow your vulnerability out. Now, I'm not suggesting you start sobbing on your way to the market, while you stay home, while you have roast beef, then wee weeing allll the way home :). But maybe occasionally, confront your own vulnerability, face this part, but do so with tenderness, with care. Your inner child needs you, is waiting for your support. How long are you going to leave this part hanging, dude (or girl)? Have you ever been snubbed on a high five? Well, imagine that feeling, but lasting for years! This is how your inner child feels if you don't occasionally check in and provide some support.
There are tons of practical, easy to apply ways to help work with your inner child. Internal Family Systems, or IFS, is one of the best methods I've found. Check it out, there are tons of videos on youtube, articles, books, whatever your preferred resource.
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