Discover your Inner Child

For some people the thought or concept of an “Inner Child” may seem mystical, out there, or weird. But I believe that we each have a part of us that is alive, energetic, creative, spontaneous, and adventurous. This is the part of who we are, when we feel most authentic, genuine or spirited. Some have called it the “Child Within”, others call it the “Real Self” and others called it the “True self”, “Authentic Self”, “Higher Self”, “Deepest Self” or our “Inner Core”. I will use these phrases interchangeably. Maybe some people can tap into that part of themselves easily and probably some have never lost the ability to be fun and free and authentic to their true self. But many people were forced to grow up quickly due to unforeseen circumstances.

Many women, 1 out of 3, have been sexually assaulted. That completely changes their outlook on who they are and who they must become. They are forced to be super alert, cautious, deal with the trauma, hurt and shame. Their carefree optimism about life goes right out the window. Their concern is for survival and avoiding perpetrators not learning to discover the mysteries of life with joy and unbounded energy. Boys who are beaten or abused lose touch their child within. They must toughen up or die. So they get tough, and become a “man”. Children who have alcoholic or drug dependent parents must learn to survive and hope their parents will be able to provide food and shelter. They have to worry because their parents are not responsible. Most of us learn to stifle or deny our inner child. Our Real Self is spontaneous, expansive, loving, giving and communicating. Our True Self accepts ourselves and others. It feels, whether the feelings are joyful or painful. Our Real Self accepts our feelings without judgment and fear, and allows them to exist as a valid way of appreciating life. Our Inner Child needs to play and have fun and yet is vulnerable and open and trusting. Most people keep their True Self private, rarely showing it to anyone.

In contrast, our false self, our unauthentic self, our co-dependent self, or our public self is another part of us that develops over time and can completely obscure our true self. Our false self is a cover up that becomes so real that we forget about our true self. It is the part of us that must meet the expectations of others and is inhibited, withholding and fearful. Where the true self is accepting of self and others, the false self is envious, critical, idealistic and perfectionistic. The false self is detached from the true self and focuses on what it thinks others want it to be. It conforms to the wishes of the world and tries to meet its expectations. The false self pretends to be strong but can act out of weakness and be inappropriately aggressive, violent or passive/aggressive.

When playing the role of false self, our feelings are uncomfortable, numb, and empty. We do not feel real, complete, whole or sane. We know something is wrong with us and something is missing. Oddly enough, we often feel that the false self is our natural state or the way we should be. To dig deeper, to find our true self is frightening. Listen to an excerpt from Charles C. Finn’s fine poem entitled, "Please Hear What I’m Not Saying".

Don’t be fooled by me.

Don’t be fooled by the face I wear.

For I wear a mask, a thousand masks,

Masks that I’m afraid to take off,

And none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature to me,

But don’t be fooled.

For God’s sake don’t be fooled.

I give the impression that I am secure,

That all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,

that the water’s calm and I’m in command,

and that I need no one.

But don’t believe me.

My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,

ever-varying and ever-concealing.

But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.

How can we get back to allowing our inner child, our true self to start exercising itself in our life and throw off the demands of the false self? How do we get back to being real? How do we get back to being authentic to our true self? Start by telling yourself the truth! Change your focus from external to internal, that is, to draw your inspiration from within instead of what you think people expect of you. Think back to when you were innocent and curious and adventurous and free! Young people who have been traumatized might not remember such a time. The inner child was carefree and felt that all of life was for them to explore and to experience.

One author suggested drawing yourself, as you recollect yourself, when you were a happy child. He suggested for you to draw yourself with your offhand, your untrained hand. All the training to be able to write as you do is like all the training we have had to conform to the expectations of others. So the offhand can help you get in touch with that inner self before it was trained away! I drew myself as a ten year old boy with a smile on his face and short hairs sticking up in front. I had two scabs on my knees and a devious look in my eye, like maybe I was ready to tackle someone. I looked rough and ready! Every time I looked at my drawing, I could see a fearless, adventurous spirit glowing through. I also had to look at my life and question the times I compromised my beliefs for someone or yielded to something that wasn’t really me. To myself, I spoke to my inner child and invited his spirit to be renewed in me. I want to be authentic and true to my true self. I sincerely believe that all of us want that very same thing for ourselves. Is it time for you to take that journey…back?