Parenting the child in me

No matter how old our bodies get, we still feel a sense of youth within. I am Radha, and while I am only 24 years old, I feel like I’m a 16-year-old in a young adult’s body. Of course, this is not entirely true – a lot has happened since 16 and 24. I am more mature and dare I say, wiser. My critical thinking skills have developed and become more defined since then… But still, sometimes I feel like I’m faking the whole ‘being an adult’ thing. I realized that most adults are still figuring things out as they continue living life, and not all older people know everything. So why is it that we feel that way?  

One explanation is the foundational concept of spiritual life: the existence of the soul. The soul is eternal, it can never be born or die. According to the Bhagavad Gita, “the soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind”. The other explanation is slightly more complicated than the existence of an eternal soul that controls your whole body: it’s the trauma and/or karma that comes along with it. Karma has become colloquial in today’s world, but what most people don’t realize is that it has an effect lifetime after lifetime. It has a cause and effect, which can be good and bad. In this article, I will be talking about trauma, because of karma.  

Trauma has had a large impact on my life since I was a little girl. I have been emotionally neglected and abused by family, friends and later, in relationships. In my previous article, “The nature of suffering and how to overcome it”, I explained how we can’t change what happens to us, we must change how we deal with it. One way of dealing with it is to parent our inner child, so we can become the adults we were always meant to be.  

First, we need to acknowledge that there is someone within ourselves who is yearning for love and attention. Secondly, we need to realize that our spouses and closest friends can contribute their love, but we cannot be truly fulfilled on theirs alone – the love must come from you yourself. Third, you are not alone. There is a second person living in your body who I am yet to mention: God, the divine, or the higher power you believe in. If not God, remember that you are a part of a greater universe and created with the materials that make up the earth – not just the earth –but whole universe, cosmos and stars. At least, that should make you feel grounded and connected to the environment around you.  

Let’s go further into each aspect. I call the person in myself my inner child as she’s a little confused, looking for love, respect and the understanding she didn’t get. This child can be naughty sometimes. As I mentioned before, my inner child is 16 and in the prime of her teenage years. She is angry at the world and listens to rock music, likes to rebel and sometimes wants to run away. Our inner child is the reason we need to work on ourselves today. Negative emotions, such as anger and rebelliousness, are often a result of looking for attention, because any attention, even negative, is still sought after. By not looking within, we are only neglecting the child who was neglected in some way their whole life. This is just one example of negative emotions. Sometimes, these negative feelings reveal themselves when things trigger the ‘adult’ versions of us. Let’s take anger, for example. We could get extremely angry over small things, which shouldn’t make someone else angry. This implies that there is a deeper reason why we’re so irritated. Maybe, we (and our feelings) weren’t taken seriously when we were younger, so we felt the need to constantly reinforce and repeat ourselves. There are so many reasons for these emotions to bubble up to the surface and like an iceberg under water, there are even more reasons as to where those emotions came from. Another example is low self-esteem or lack of confidence in oneself.  

Low-self-esteem stems from something we were (and still are) insecure about when we were younger. If we show love to the child in us with regards to our insecurity then we can work on building ourselves up, and ultimately growing up into who we want to be. The idea behind parenting your inner child is basically to treat yourself like you would treat another person. If you won’t say or do bad things to someone else, then be conscious of doing it to yourself. The reason other people can’t help you truly love yourself, is because you are the only person who has a full understanding of who you are and what you need. Other people could be using you to your advantage, and you may not even realize that you’re letting them take you for granted. It’s not only that, but it could also even be the simplest and smallest of things, such as setting boundaries for yourself. In marriages, friendships or any relationship you’re in, this is something of utmost importance. 

The last and final thing to realize is that self-love is not done alone. Something that psychologists and experts don’t include in their research is the presence of another living entity within you. In the space of the heart, there is a metaphor given where there are two birds: one bird eats the fruits on the tree, while the other watches the one who is eating. The one watching is God or the divine, and the one eating the fruit is us. The divine higher power would never want us to suffer, but He doesn’t stop us because He sees us accepting whatever we see fit. He sees us settling for less but doesn’t meddle, because He knows the realizations we need to come to through those situations. This bird is with us lifetime after lifetime – He has been a witness to all our karma, trauma, great times and worst of times. He has also witnessed our sins, wrongdoings, and has seen us in our darkest days when we had no hope. Even when we didn’t believe in Him, He believed in us. Above all, we are not alone. We have a loving light and power inside of us who wants us to heal and turn towards. When we turn towards this energy, we become enlivened and enlightened, and it gives us a renewed sense of vitality that can help us live our lives to the fullest. 

When we find ourselves, we find the divine, and when we find the divine, we find ourselves. With time, we come to realize that the key to growing up and finding ourselves is not to look outward, but to look within. 

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