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In the self-help world, a lot is written about ‘healing the inner child.’ The basic theory being that we all have a little boy/girl inside of us who occasionally comes out even when we are adults. The self-help world has taken the theory and run with it in a negative light. Rather than being an interesting theory that we can use to grow and change, it has become a method to explain away negative behavior and turned in to a hokey self-help concept. (ok, now stepping down from my soap box)
I am a fan of the basic concept of the inner child. I do believe that my Little One comes out from time to time, she gets scared and insecure and even throws temper tantrums. Frequently, this Little One comes out to ‘play’ when we are triggered by something, a scary event, a family gathering, death or something that takes us back to our early years. When I notice that I am overly insecure or scared about an event, I will simply put my hands over my heart and say to my Little One ‘you know what? I got this’. ‘You don’t need to worry about it I am an adult, and I can handle this one. Immediately it feels as if I have taken a giant sigh of relief. It is a good exercise because A. It brings awareness around the fear B. it reminds me that ‘hey I am an adult here and I CAN handle this situation C. it quiets the inner insecurities.
Last year, I was working with Jill* who was going through a divorce. After 20 years of marriage, her husband decided he was done and had found someone else. Jill was left with three children and no idea who she was or what came next. Jill and I did a lot of work helping her figure out what she needed and who she was. As Jill was going through all these changes and making a lot of decisions she never had to make before, her Little One would come out frequently. She started paying attention to her Little One, noticing when she would come out (usually after a conversation with her ex or when she had to take charge of a situation). Gradually she started gently talking to her Little One, and as Jill developed her confidence in her decisions and skills, her Little One became less and less powerful. Jill said to me “I think I have been living most of my life letting Little Jill make the decisions from a place of an 8-year-old rather than Adult Jill.” I agreed with her, and I think many of us let our Little One (our insecurities, our fears, our anger) control our lives.
The next time you start feeling scared or insecure do a check in with yourself–has your Little One come out to play? Are you viewing the world from the eyes of a six-year-old? And if the answer is yes, place your hands on your heart and gradually start talking to your Little One–and assuring them all is well—you got this–you are a grown up. Our Little Ones are there for a reason to help us see that life is scary, and we do have insecurities. And it is our role as adults to comfort the Little One and then move through the fear so we can Live Happier.
*names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality