The Inner Child

The Inner Child

After we wake up, we become conscious of remaining shadows more quickly. Often we’ll uncover challenges around fear, anger, and a wide assortment of contractions from unresolved experiences.

In time, we’ll find they get more primitive and, to the intellect, less defined. The key is noticing reactivity and following it back to its roots to make it conscious. Then it can be resolved. Making it conscious is sometimes the last step in healing.

The challenge is in facing our ghosts. If we adopt an attitude of being beyond such things or suppress what doesn’t feel “spiritual,” we will not heal these shadows.

Felicia dancing, Maracas fishing village, Trinidad
Photo by Athinaf

But there’s another driver in there that is a different part of our unresolved past. That is of the “inner child” or our basic personal self. I may use the term somewhat uniquely here but it well describes it. When we’re very young, usually before age 2, we go through a process of pulling away from mother, of recognizing ourselves as a unique entity. This is a necessary part of our becoming a self-sustaining human.

Me and Mine become prominent aspects of this age. We try to assert our emotional and physical needs but it’s not built on a platform of logic or caring, just on meeting needs. MINE!

If we are not able to meet those needs, there can be acting out, suppression, and the issues described prior.

Around age 6, the mind becomes more dominant (and our culture emphasizes it), and a full-blown desire to control develops. The controller may play a hide-and-seek game to keep itself hidden and in control. But this whole dynamic obscures the child behind it.

Trying to control the controller is a pointless exercise. In fact, the ego may try to encourage that because the attempt to control IS the controller. Conflict, even with itself, is a way to distract us from seeing through the ego.

The trick is, these younger parts of ourselves remain with us. We become an adult on a platform of our inner child, our pre-teen, and so forth.

Few parents are beacons of love and support. Most have their own shadows and limitations, some of which we adopt through behaviour and energetic modeling. While learning to assert self, we’re also learning to fit in. Depending on our family environment, we develop various work-arounds to get what we need.

Thus it’s common to have issues around food, security, and meeting our emotional needs. The drivers are early and often unconscious. For example, negative attention is better than no attention. Thus, we may have learned to make a drama to get attention even though our adult self knows this isn’t effective, healthy, or pleasant.
Yet here’s a key point. If you roll back and think about what dominates a child’s life, you’ll see it’s play. When needs are reasonably met, children want to be free to have fun and play. When there is hurt or upset, it often blows off quickly.

Curiously even things we see as incompetencies or dislikes now can be places of joy that were suppressed as children. Daydreams? Art? Sports? Dance? Music? We can reclaim these joys when we make the child conscious again. And that supports those simple emotional and physical needs.  

It may be a surprise to realize some inner grumbling is due to lack of fun. (laughs) Do we acknowledge this young and innocent part of ourselves? Do we have a relationship with them? Or does the mind-self/ controller throw the child out in front to protect itself?

We see the latter when we act out physically or emotionally rather than deal with our adult problems. Or is the acting out because we have no space for joy and play?

What does play look like for you? What do you enjoy? Or have you lost touch with joy? What did you love as a child? When we have healthy ways to meet our emotional and physical needs, play shows up. When the inner child is freed from the controller, it can assert itself through fun and freedom.
Our child remains a part of us throughout life. All stages remain a part of our experience and makeup. Acknowledging and giving space to all aspects of ourselves leads to a more complete integration and fulfillment.

Last Updated on December 12, 2018 by Davidya

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  1. Jim

    Very nice. Thank you, David. I can recall a period when I had an inner old man, shriveled up and in pain. Yow, I had forgotten – He’s doing ok now, though. Happy as a clam, enjoying the sunshine.

    That fellow has been the exception in my psyche though, and even though living somewhat angst-ridden for many years (20th century dis-ease?), I have been able to keep in touch with my childhood sense of innocence, wonder, and joy. Its like the old saying we don’t simply find opportunity, we make it.

    Same thing can be applied to any desire. Not that we strive to fulfill all of them without discrimination, but those that are important to us, as you say, must be completed somehow. Resolved.

    My favored approach is finding something even greater to intrigue my mind, and capture my heart, ad infinitum.

    Transcending over time into Brahman, and then we have all of the toys in the playground. 🙂 The selection is amazing! All the Best to you

  2. Per

    Thank you for this enlightening article!
    Over to something totally unrelated: Can you, at some opportune moment, comment on Tony Parsons teaching? Does some or all of it make sense to you?

    1. Thanks, Per
      I’m only familiar with Tony Parsons in the broadest way. Generally, he’s of the neo-advaita camp that applies the language of Brahman (Vedanta) to Self Realization and dismisses everything else. This is a somewhat renunciate approach, partly because Shankara, the source of the teaching, was reviving the monastic approach in India.

      For some, this dismissal can be useful at a certain point to break down the self-concept. I don’t relate to the approach myself though.

      I don’t doubt his teaching was based on direct experience. It is one of the realities I write about. But there are a number of perspectives of reality. The post later today explores that.

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