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.


Luz said...

Beautiful Jane. Right on the dot. Thank you. What a pleasure. Allow your Inner Child to make a mess. Way to go girl. I acknowledge you for your awareness. Big hug!

Kendra Bonnett said...

I'm not sure I completely agree, Jane. I fully appreciate the desire just to be you and to have fun. But I'm not sure that being ourselves and excelling are mutually exclusive.

I believe that when we really do allow our Inner Child to take over and, even for a time, unlearn all that the conventions of society have taught us...I believe that is when we do some of our best work.

Artists of all ilk should free their Inner Child, but don't pass off her work as less than exceptional.

I enjoyed your post.

Jane Rowan said...

Kendra, I agree with you. It's not really that the Inner Child does "bad work," but that I need to give her permission to make a mess. For me, as an overpraised and controlled child, that "unlearning" you mention is crucial.

Yes, the mess can lead to (or be) excellent, but I need to keep the judgments out of it as I work. Give my Little Girl complete freedom and just see what arises.