You may have heard about connecting with your ‘inner child’. Or you may not!
Think about a toddler – they are endlessly curious, just as easily delighted as frustrated, expressive, resilient (ie falling many, many times as they learn to walk) and boldly taking risks. We all started life with these types of traits.
In fact, young children naturally demonstrate 10 traits, according to Sharon Pearson in her book Ultimate You: Quest Edition:
- Being curious and filled with wonder
- Risk taking
- Being naturally spontaneous without being self-conscious
- Open to love
- Emotional – expressing all emotions
As we grow up, in response to feedback (overt or implied) from our caregivers, these traits start to dwindle, and we may tend to avoid taking risks; refrain from sharing the ‘bad’ emotions (eg sadness; anger) because of the response they get; stop being playful and curious; question the intentions of others; become less optimistic or even pessimistic; and can become highly serious and stuck up in our heads rather than being in the moment and acting with spontaneity.
None of this is the fault of parents or caregivers. It’s purely a response by the child based on the feedback they subconsciously interpreted to mean that there was something wrong with them, and therefore being all of themselves was not ok. This creates toxic shame and is the start of an individual learning that they are not enough as they are, and need to adopt a different way of being in the world.
Brene Brown states that:
“based on my research and the research of other shame researchers, I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.
I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”
How This Plays Out:
For most of my clients, this shame is the genesis of the people-pleaser role or a version of this because continuing to experience shame is too painful. As a result, they become agreeable; avoid conflict or having an opinion in case it’s wrong or disliked, and not feeling enough as they are. Unfortunately, most people have absolutely zero idea about any of this, and as a result, the role usually stays in place forever unless something happens to change this (actively seeking out someone to help to change it) and that comes at a cost.
In the clients I work with, it inevitably leads to experiencing states of stress; anxiety; playing ‘safe’; overthinking; detachment from their emotions; a lack of boundaries due to constantly trying to please others; feeling exhausted and more.
By contrast, when they come to me they are seeking the elusive inner peace; calm; happiness; freedom; time for themselves; to feel worthy; to stop keeping everyone else happy; and to truly be comfortable in their own skin.
The work we do together is letting go of the parts of this role or ‘false self’ that are no longer serving them and are actually costing them, and instead connecting with the inner, ‘true’ self that is already within.
And I’ll tell you what: it’s a very powerful, transformational process that truly leads to a sense of being at peace with oneself and being able to start to embrace those 10 traits mentioned in the beginning, that were lost along the way.
Which one or more of the 10 young childhood traits would you like to reconnect with?
Kylie xTags: anxiety Authenticity Coaching Human Behaviour Inner child Life Coaching Mindset Coaching stress