I developed this process intuitively while working through trauma associated with my own mother. It has built a gentle resilience in myself.
This article was written with women in mind, however, can apply to anyone who feels a connection to the ideas put forward.
Hey, little you. I know you're in there. You're the hot tears and the sudden unexpected scream because you just wanted to be heard. You cause us to desperately cling to lovers or on the other hand, push them away because feeling close can be scary.
The intense emotions we felt when we were young live within us still, often without our realising. Whether we had overly involved or completely absent parents, our childhood can really shape our lives as a whole. Even children who had what most people would consider a "perfect" upbringing, could still have felt alone or experienced difficult feelings that were hard to process.
And even though you're all old and serious now, do you sometimes wish that someone would just wrap you up and tell you that everything will be okay? Well, the beautiful thing is that you can do this yourself.
It's okay and natural to want someone to care for you, but we all know this isn't always possible. So when you become your own nurturer, life becomes that little bit sweeter.
Below is a simple exercise to help heal your inner child and become a stable loving source of support when you just want to melt into a puddle on the ground.
Step 1: Identify Your Key Childhood Emotions
Sit down and get comfy somewhere with a pen and some paper. Take a deep breath and think back to your early childhood, from around 4 to 8 years. Were your parents overly involved or absent? Where did you live? What did you like to do with your time? Write a brief bio of this time in your life and anything significant that comes up.
Now think about what you were like. Were you a ball of energy and loved attention? Or did you spend a lot of time alone and shy away from others? Perhaps you were a mixture of those? Write out what comes to mind.
On to the next phase of your childhood..around 9 to 12 years. Repeat the steps above, i.e. what your parents were like, what you enjoyed doing, how you were emotionally.
Here are some descriptive words to help you along:
excitable / quiet / shy / bubbly / sensitive / defensive / moody / brooding / sad / joyful / lonely / isolated / hurt / fearful / active / motivated / serious / thoughtful / worried / clingy / independent / violent / caring / anxious / trusting / creative
Step 2: Consider the Key Childhood Emotions and Traits Which Have Stayed With You as an Adult
Think about the childhood emotions and traits you listed above...do any of them come up in your life now and cause distress? Write them down, or any new ones which may not necessarily relate to your childhood.
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Step 3: Soothe and Console Your Inner Child When These Particular Emotions Cause You Distress
Practicing mindfulness will definitely give you a boost in this part. It's about being aware of your emotions and acknowledging them, instead of running on auto-pilot. Because before you know it, you've slapped Becky's plate of salad out of her hands because she took your organic baby spinach from the shared fridge at work.
So when you feel a strong emotion come on and it causes you distress, simply name it. Is it anger? Jealousy? Fear? Worry?
When you can name it, say to yourself in your head or out loud; "Hello little me, I can see that you're feeling so anxious right now. It's okay little one, I'm here for you".
I know...it may seem a little bit ridiculous to some, but this can become incredibly comforting and perfect for building self-assurance. You can even give yourself a cute nickname, like "Sweet pea" or whatever floats your boat.
Just as another example, maybe you're feeling terribly lonely. You could say, "Hello sweet pea, I know you feel so alone right now. But it's alright, sometimes everyone feels lonely. But I am here for you, you will be okay".
You can even rub your upper chest near your heart while you talk to yourself, adding physical assurance.
And then because you've managed to calm yourself down, it may become easier for you to take steps in improving your overall situation.
Step 4: Give Your Inner Child a Flower
This last step may seem a little abstract but it's really quite lovely and can strengthen the bond you're making with yourself.
Each time you finish step 3, build up an image in your mind of yourself when you were younger. Whatever age feels right. You can even look through old photos of yourself to help make this image strong in your mind's eye.
Now imagine yourself as you are now, kneeling down in front of your younger self. Give her a hug or tussle her hair like you would any cute kid you know. Give her a flower or a posy and watch her take it from you, smiling. Look at her chubby little fingers grasping them. What flower/s did you choose? They could be different each time.
Do Steps 3 and 4 Whenever You Feel the Need
Even if you're out in public! Who cares? Just find somewhere a little quieter and sit down for a few minutes. Or if you're at work, go to the bathroom and sit in a stall.
You may even find that with time, your need to do this will decrease or won't require as much detail. Because eventually, you will have built up a part of yourself that is almost instantly all the assurance you need. What a gorgeous feeling that will be.
But Don't Forget It's Okay to Lean on Others
While it's wonderful to be able to count on yourself, there's no need to close off your vulnerability in being able to ask for help when you need it.
Sometimes we need an outside opinion (oh my goodness, so necessary when our mind is swimming around in circles). Or to have a hug and cry in the presence of a close friend. Connection with others is just as important as having a connection with ourself. Life is a bit of a balancing act, yeah?
© 2017 Violet Redfield