Revisioning The Inner Child
- May 22, 2015
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The “inner child” often gets reduced to a cuddly concept, something to wrap our mind around — or something perhaps to reject or disown, because the whole idea seems childish or shameful to us. But we all do have in us — and not just in our mind! — a place of prerational vulnerability, innocence, wonder, and curiosity.
And this childlike domain, whatever we call it, is not all love and light, for it, inevitably, contains much of our history. To explore it is to come face to face with plenty of our conditioning. Leaving this unexplored and untouched, especially out of some notion that the past is past, simply impoverishes us, reducing us to little more than adulterated children controlled by our conditioning, no matter how “grown-up” we may seem.
The “inner child” — which isn’t an entity but a psychoemotional configuration — is calling for two primary things: To be genuinely loved and to be protected.
Many get lost in their inner child’s world, identifying with that little boy or girl, leaving themselves at the mercy of their “inner critic,” feeling powerless before its shaming “I-know-what’s-best-for-you onslaughts — just like a child being attacked by an aggressively shaming parent. Plenty of us get caught up in the child within, and others flee it, clinging to a false maturity.
There is, thankfully, another way, centered by an ongoing intimacy with our inner child — or, put another way, by our capacity to truly parent ourselves.
Real maturity doesn’t mean we’ve left our childlike dimensions behind, but rather that we cherish and protect them, while maintaining a perspective that has discerning room for all that we are. In this we don’t just grow up, but grow into, grow down, grow in all directions without losing touch with our roots and true ground.