Setting Limits with the Inner Child

When I first got to know my Inner Child, it seemed like she was a sad, shy little thing. Often she wouldn’t appear when I sat and called to her, and then if she did, she cried a lot. I needed to learn to sit still and be patient, not commanding her but being ready to listen.

It was after I knew her a bit that the memories of abuse came back, and then my little girl was very, very needy. Every morning she needed to sit in my lap and cry and be comforted. I learned a lot by listening to her and seeing how her fears were triggered in everyday life when people were angry or demanding or distant.

Some time later, when I was right in the depths of the feelings of betrayal and grief, my inmost little girl wanted me to be right there with her, merge completely. It was then that my therapist said, "No, you need to visit her and then return.  Becoming her and staying in that place of fear and despair is not going to help." This was the first time I learned clearly to set a limit with my inner child.

There’s another part of me who likes to take over—I call her Eager Girl. This aspect of my Inner Child is just bursting with energy and ready to go anywhere. She loves to get involved in projects and go on adventures. One time I dreamed that she wanted me to throw her the keys to my red sports car so she could start up. That’s when I learned that she doesn’t get to drive the car. She’s wonderful and eager, but my inner grownup needs to be in charge and get her to take rests, to make space for the other aspects of being.

It's quite a rich and exciting family that lives inside me!

Praise and the Inner Child

I seem to forget and relearn all the ways of being with my Inner Child. I’ve been in a busy and exciting time with a poetry presentation that went very well; the audience loved it. But all the praise started to feel a bit toxic. Everyone meant well, but inside me, it felt tangled and sticky.

Yesterday I finally asked my Little Girl, What is it you need?  What’s up?  She said, I just want to play and make a mess and not be good at anything. I want to be ordinary.

Ah! I got it. When I was a child, I needed to earn my parents’ attention. They wanted me to be good at everything I did—to excel, really. Praise started to take over my inner life. It was hard to do something in an average way and hard to do something just for the joy of it, even though I was an energetic child who loved doing things.

Today I’ve been messing with art work and remembering how satisfying that is. I scribbled and put the energy into muddled, untidy clots of color. I don’t have to be good at it! Slowly I rediscover my own soul in the jumble of shapes and colors. Play and inner satisfaction take over from the desire to shine.