Pure Joy. Having my hand licked by a Goat.
I never thought I'd write those words together but there you go, this world continues to astonish me. I have a picture that was taken on a frosty Sunday morning in December 2016 and looking back it strikes me just how happy I look. I always say you can tell a genuine smile from a forced one when a person's eyes are smiling too. The whole morning at the Animal park, I giggled like a child as slimy tongues flapped on my hand in search of food. It was the most fun I'd had in a long time.
You see, life had been very 'adult' before this picture was taken. Filling in tax returns, working late, paying bills… Life seemed very serious and grown up. It's odd but whilst at the animal park, thoughts flooded into my head like: Your too old for this. C'mon, be serious, you're an adult. Leave this to the children.
There was another voice however. A voice that giggled. A voice having fun. The voice of my inner-child.
So this picture really served as a reminder to me. A reminder that inside of this bearded coffee-loving Entrepreneur, and of course inside of you, and everyone, lives an Inner child. Children who crave the good stuff:
Love, Connection, Adventure, Fun, Creativity, Laughter, Play.
This inspired me to write this article. To share a few simple ways we can connect with our inner child.
Voila. Here's 3 ways you can ensure you're caring for your Inner Child.
1. Speak kindly of yourself.
How do you react when you make a mistake? If you're like most people it will sound something like this;
'I'm such an idiot' 'Why can't I seem to do anything right'? 'I'm ALWAYS getting things wrong' and 'I'm useless'.
It's important to understand this voice, isn't you. And importantly, what the voices says, isn't you. The mind can sound very mean. Just observe the ramblings, don't jump in and add to the bashing. The truth is, you're not perfect, there are times you're going to get things wrong and you know what? It's cool. This makes you human. What isn't cool is responding critically and agreeing with the voice by identify with the thought. There were no doubt times as a child you've been criticized despite your best efforts, perhaps by a parent or a teacher. That hurt. By verbally bashing yourself, you're reliving these painful times and inviting the feelings back. So please, be kind to yourself. In moments of disappointment or frustration, forgive yourself quickly and completely. Smile, let go, life will go on.
2. Never deny an Opportunity for Love + Connection.
Growing up, I used to holiday most years in the South of France. One hot Summer's evening when I was about 11-years old an interesting thought hit me following an observation 'Why is it all the children, despite the language barriers, are integrating and becoming friends, whilst all the adults stick to themselves'? During the evenings, the adult holiday makers sat at the tables in their own groups. The English at one table, the Dutch at another, the Germans at another. There was the odd exchange but mostly, the adults kept themselves to themselves.
The 11 year-old me concluded that Children 'get it'. They listen to this part of them that longs for love and connection, knowing they can get this by making friends, plucking up the courage to approach a stranger and asking to join their game. Despite the language barrier, games were played, fun was had and friendships were formed by us children.
Adults it seemed suppressed this longing, by choosing to focus on the differences between themselves and other adults instead of the similarities.
This longing for Love + Connection exists inside of you.
Sat next to someone on a train journey, why not spark up a conversation over the book they are reading? Join a local group where you'll meet new people. Say good morning to those you pass in the street. A simple exchange of smiles feels great too.
Denying ourselves the pleasure of human connection hurts. Be someone who openly gives and receives opportunities for love and connection. You're Inner Child will thank you for it.
3. Give yourself Experiences your Inner Child would Love
Following the experience at the Animal park last year, I asked myself the question 'What other experiences would my inner-child love'? I always wanted to Go-Cart as a child so I'll be making sure this happens in 2017. I've committed to making time to PLAY more often. Life can feel very serious and heavy at times, so create some balance by scheduling in some time for Play too.
So what about you? What activities or experiences would your inner-child love to have? What were your childhood passions? Perhaps it was drawing, poetry or swimming. What ever it is, do that. Go play!
Just because you're an adult, doesn't mean you can't gift yourself the childhood joys of doing what makes your heart sing.