They told us to grow up. They said they liked us better that way. They said we were, ‘mature for our age’ so put everything on the line so that we could be more ‘grown-up’. We dropped the things that bonded us with our inner child. The essence of who we are.

We sent our kids off to school at a premature age – we let their teachers potty-train them for God’s sake! We were so pleased with ourselves that we set about every day, donning our suit of satisfaction. Unbeknownst to us, we were setting our world on fire, little by little.

And this my friends, was where it all started; By forcing ourselves, and our children to ‘grow up’ we smothered our inner child, leaving us with an empty husk. A husk craving for attention and acceptance. Now, we find ourselves grappling with an assortment of mental disorders ranging from personality, mood, and anxiety to substance abuse and eating disorders.

While this is not the only threat to our mental instability, we have to admit that it really does play a part. Our seemingly innocent acts have come back to haunt us. The kitten has turned into a monster and is now ripping us up into pieces.

Thankfully, it is not all lost. There is a way out. Because we were once children, we still have that child living in us. It is not too late to sift through the pile and tap into him/her. This way perhaps we can begin to untangle the knots imposed by society. This is how to get started.

Your child awaiteth
Just like the only way to fill a void is to acknowledge the void, in the same manner, you have to be conscious that there is, in fact, a child within you. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself to be a strong man/woman, there is still a child in you. Believe it or not.

This acknowledgment allows you to be authentic. By embracing ourselves, we can let others in and form positive relationships. Don’t we all need that? When we are comfortable in our own skin, we can be flexible and tolerant and perhaps avert the threat of personality disorders. When we are in touch with our inner child, we can finally stop running to shine the shoes of others, in order to see ourselves in their reflection.

What you don’t feed doesn’t grow.
Unless you are heartless and selfish – in which case you have no business being a parent – you would not starve your child. And yet, as ironic as it sounds, we starve our inner child all the time. Yes, even you. With all the demands of our fast-lane-lives, we deny him/her the love, protection, and understanding that they require. In our famished state, we walk around feeling unfulfilled, hollow, and feeble.

Unfortunately, it gets worse; depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts begin to creep in slowly. But hey, it doesn’t have to be this way. By all means, you can alter this pattern by showering yourself with as much self-love as possible. Be your own advocate. Celebrate your achievements. Pretty easy, but very powerful acts.

Fill your bubble
Ever seen a child playing alone? Don’t you simply admire their independence? How is it that these little human beings are so confident in themselves? I mean, they happily spend hours on end playing by themselves in the sand, mud or their toys. They seem to be making this silent statement: I am fine by myself.

I am convinced that for our inner child to thrive, we need to adopt the same mentality; we need to be OK with ourselves, just the way we are. How do we get to that level? Well…am glad you asked. For starters, we need to stop expecting others to fulfill our needs. You must learn to fill our own bubble with air or water, or whatever it is that fills your bubble. We have to do whatever it takes to stay afloat, and we have to be OK doing it alone. With child-like independence.

The fish rots from the head. And just like fish, if our mental health is in disarray, everything else in our lives crumbles to dust. For this reason, we must watch what enters the confines of our minds like a hawk. We ought to let loose and connect to the elements that keep our inner child alive. We must teach ourselves how to slow down and catch our breath. Then perhaps we can free ourselves and experience the wonder, awe, and joy of this life.