In the last 5 years I have been taught to skillfully LISTEN in order to help individuals loosen their knots and resolve their issues. Today, I work to help educate young professionals about the value and importance of self-care and how they can reach a higher level of wellness in various ways. And where I find myself enjoying this the most is in the opportunity to get creative. I learn that where intellect and monetary appeal do not suffice, there is something therapeutic about reaching out to the child within - for both myself and my own clients.
I noticed that as adults we struggle to find balance between healthy self-expression and destructive repression when we shut out the very essence of ourselves. We’re told that we need to “keep it together”, to stop acting “immature” and to forego our hopes, dreams, and wishes in order to “grow up”, inadvertently harming ourselves. This childish nature, however, is what fuels our curiosity, our ability to dream, and our desire to invent. And there is no one better to console and address the needs of this fiery essence than our very selves. So what can we do to reach in and help ourselves out?
1. Recognize where your emotions are coming from. I noticed that when we often feel hurt, angry, ashamed, or guilty, we come from a place where we first learned how to feel this way. This is the best way to reach out to the child within and ask yourself how you feel about the situation and what it makes you want to do. Usually, our response is quite childish and you will notice that at age 4, 7, 10, or even 13, you have once responded this way.
2. Learn messages of Self-Compassion. Have you ever noticed what happens to yourself when you’re feeling scared? What happens when there is no one there to hold your hand? Do you find yourself holding your own hands instead? Learning self-compassion is just like this, and it’s learning to speak to your very heart that we sometimes need to practice. As adults we do like our elders did when they asked us to “stop crying”, “stop whining”, and to “toughen up”. We find that these messages help us “keep it together” and help us grow up. But what happens when we hold it all inside?
Learning messages of self-compassion is as important as food is to your body. Sometimes we just need to learn how to be kinder to our own souls.
3. Return to the essence of PLAY. There is something therapeutic and healing about play, because it belongs in our very nature. We were made to be curious, explore, and invent. We were made to see things from different perspectives and to find creative ways to enjoy life. And as children, our very task was to simply PLAY. Through play we enhance skills, we broaden our knowledge, and we add to our list of experiences.
In learning how to take care of yourself, I would invite you to go back to the very simple things - walking barefoot, arts and crafts, biking, going to the playground, splashing around in the pool, or even watching cartoons. For in learning how to be children again, we find that even our own problems can be simplified and that in our very essence is courage, happiness, love, and warmth. :)(: