In the much-loved movie Big an apparent adult is a child, a happy. This post is about how keep to our inner child alive and happy even when old and gray.
Emotional Fitness Thoughts and Tips
Okay, first let’s get a few things straight. Children are being romantically elevated by the “Don’t trust those over thirty” crowd. Watch the commercials that have kids driving cars, and lecturing grown ups.
The most recent one, I saw had two squirts who appear to be in first grade lecturing adults on very grown up topics while using the most up to date smart phone.
None of this is helpful, because children are not really smarter than adults, although given some adults, it often seems that way. However, the ad-men want us to feel unhappy with now, so we will buy. Mostly, sell things we never heard of, never knew existed, have never needed and that will not make us as happy as we sometimes were as kids.
Disclaimer: I am not at all against people buying, buying, and buying more. I want people to buy, if they can afford it.
Fact: we need the rich to spend, spend, spend. The rich who buy the latest fashions, cars, jewels or who have three or four mega houses are mega employers. That said, my heart wishes the rich would give, give, and buy mainly to give.
Remember, the TV show the Millionaire. Well ,maybe not, but this very rich person anonymous gave mega bucks to others. Changed their lives. Certainly a million or two thrown my way would make my life different and would let me do more of what matters to me. Why I buy at least one lottery ticket a week.
Anyway, back to the child within. Inner Child healing was popularized by John Bradshaw . The word healing as used by Bradshaw meant the focus was on how parents wounded children. His thoughts were related to a larger therapy movement based on Object Relations Theory. Because that was a therapy movement it also focused on the damage parents do. Helpful only when a child was truly a victim of abuse.
One of the founders of object relations theory Donald Winnecott, a founder of the Object Relations movement, coined the phrase “Good-enough” parenting to stop the process of making all parents into abusers. Did not work for many.
Why? Because we have all been hurt as children by good parents and good enough parents. This means quickly we quickly identify with hurt children. Good if we work toward keeping children from being abused. Not so good if we end up thinking we have been abused when we have not.
EMOTional FItness Training tips
Tip one: Be aware of all the beings that are part of your inner self. The Transactional Analysis (TA) theorists believe we have at least five inner beings guiding our feelings and behavior. Two are parents – one is a nurturing parent, the other a critical parent; another is called our adult which is a computer like thinking self; and finally two are children: one free and the other adapted meaning controlled or shaped by parents.
I find the TA ideas most helpful when it comes to improving myself awareness which the emotional intelligence people is a major part of being in control of feelings and behavior. Taking a minute to ask which part of an inner self is talking, lets us make better use of their information.
Tip two: Honor all. And yes that means knowing and hearing not just our nurturing parents, but also our critical ones. The critical parent within, particularly when he or she has not slipped over into abuse, is trying to teach us what matters, what we need to learn to keep safe and to get along in life. We need to honor the good, but also the lessons we can learn from the bad.
Honoring all does not mean forgetting the hurtful behavior, or enduring abuse. Abused? Get out of the relationship or at least physically out of it. Hardest to do in a marriage as a parent, but essential.
It also probably means distancing emotionally and strengthening your protective shield. Particularly with children who have to be cut off from physical contact because they abuse parents or someone else if living in the same house. Also difficult, if the abuser is a partner you love dearly when he or she is not abusive.
What you need to do to stop the abuse from living in your heart and still hurting you is to forgive and to establish an “I forgive” relationship with the abuser while staying where you cannot be abused. How is that possible?
First you have to be safe and if you are living with an abuser, get professional help. When you are safe, you can work on the forgiveness part.
The door to forgiveness is accepting that we are all human and the human state is far from perfect. Everyone does the best she or he can do. You do, the abuser does. When the best someone can do is abuse, that is tragic and easily leads to wanting to hurt. However, that only keeps the circle of abuse spinning.
As this How to Forgive Poster Coach notes, accepting that we all do the best we can jump starts forgiveness. .
The poster deals with forgiving yourself because that is key to forgiving others. Why? Our feelings about ourselves often determine how we feel about otheres. If we have been the victim of abuse, part of us has accepted we deserved punishment and that needs putting aside.
Finally, if we have been victims of abuse, the desire to indulge in pay back is natural, but not useful and needs to be set aside and forgiving.
Tip Three; Laugh and play. Remember laughing and playing. Our hurt inner child is often stronger than our free or happy inner child. That means we have to work harder to nourish the happy child. Do remember play means play.
Not sure what I mean; think of Bob Hope’s definition of golf: “If you watch a game, it’s fun. If you play it, it’s recreation. If you work at it, it’s golf.”
For play to be play, it has to be fun.
Competition is about winning and a little competition is fun and can build a child’s emotional strength. However, as no one win’s all the time, learning to loses gracefully is major life lesson.
Remind a competitive child, that winning is fun, but also involves luck as well as talent and every one wins some and loses some throughout all of life.
How you handle a loss is the better measure of character and a good character is key to living the good life.
Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness is blesses the giver and the receiver.
Links of interest
September 2, 2014: Zoltar’s Revenge In a reversal of Big, the Tom Hanks classic from the 80s, your adult self is suddenly locked in the body of a 12-year-old kid. How do you survive your first day back in school