The Inner Child Reborn
“Hope is the thing with feathers, / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all…” – Emily Dickinson
Even as adults, we all still retain that part of our personality we had when we were children. The positive, healthy aspect of our inner child expresses our innocence, joy, exuberance, and hope. This accepting and fresh view of life comes from the true self. This egoless state is always there within us.
In today’s meditation, we learn how to reawaken the inner children in ourselves, as well as encourage it in others by seeing their inner child with the innocent and accepting eyes of our own.
Welcome to week 3 of our 21-day meditation experience. In week one we moved into the space where we experienced how hope is real and can be a powerful force to overcome fear and anxiety in certain times. In week two we explored the expanse of where hope can take us and we practiced how, through meditation, we can use hope to create inner strength even during our darkest hours. Everything is better when you share it so in week 3 we will navigate how we can offer hope and inspire it in others. Let’s begin Day 15 – The Inner Child Reborn.
Many years ago family counselor and author, John Bradshaw, revealed to our Oprah Show audience his concept of the wounded inner child. I often refer to an exercise he took our audience through. It remains for me one of the most transforming moments of my life, really. John said we first see the world through the eyes of a little child and that inner child remains with us throughout our lives. No matter how outwardly grown up and effective we appear to become. If our vulnerable child was hurt, abandoned, shamed or neglected, that child’s grief and anger lives on within us. That is so powerful to know.
You see so many adults now acting out the hurt, abandonment, the shame and neglect that they suffered as children. As the son of an alcoholic, for instance, John’s wounds were so profound that he became an alcoholic by the time he was only thirteen. His inner child exercise was an Oprah Show moment that changed the way I felt about myself and the way I looked at the world. Each time I talk about I learn something new, really.
He had us imagine peering through the window of our childhood home. You can do this for yourself. Go to the window of the house that you grew up in, look through and find yourself in that house. And what do you see? When you take a good look at your life as a child, what do you see and, more importantly, what do you feel what’s going on with you and your relationships with everyone in the house? What gift did you possess that others may have overlooked or missed? What burdens were you made to carry?
What brought you hope? What made you sad?
I believe that healing the wounds of the past is one of the most hopeful endeavors that we have in our lives. When you rekindle the innocence and hope that precedes pain, you free yourself to truly live more fully in the present.
At this stage in our journey you can, if you like, reach out and bring hope to others. The world needs beacons of hope everywhere. This applies to the most successful and fulfilled among us and even more so the people who are losing hope. Everyone needs hope to move forward and open new possibilities. How can you help? Innocence is the quality of hope that removes judgment and criticism.
Children are naturally innocent which allows them to experience hope, joy and optimism every day. That innocence gets diminished or even erased by traumas, emotional wounds and failures. These create a feeling of hopelessness that we then struggle against. As adults most people do not want to be innocent again seeing it as too vulnerable and impractical. Yet as adults our personalities still contains an innocent child, a universal archetype with both constructive and destructive aspects.
On the constructive side your inner child expresses joy, hope and innocence. On the destructive side it expresses dependency, helplessness and uncontrolled impulses. When hope is fading in someone’s life so is the positive side of their inner child. To restore hope in someone first realize their inner child is still within them. When you see the innocent self judgment is not possible. The person we judge against is a later development created by the needs and demands of the ego. Childhood innocence is an egoless state. Therefore, it is closer to the true self.
In our meditations we reawaken the inner child. To enhance this awakening in yourself and others, make time every day for play in any form you choose. Be lighthearted as your general attitude. When you’re carefree you trust in life and don’t worry or try to control situations. Set judgment and skepticism aside. Accept people in the best light. Be gentle and allowing in your interactions with others. Don’t be a critic or rule-enforcer. As you cultivate this more innocent side of yourself people will notice that you’re more warm and welcoming.
Remember how, as a child, you were totally involved in playing? How you looked with fresh eyes at everything? That freshness and lightheartedness is the basis of hope and still exists inside you right now ready to be revived.
I see the hopeful inner child in everyone.
Looking through that window into my childhood I see my dad carrying me into the house from the car. I’m in my pajamas with the feet. I feel little. I feel safe. I feel like that again today but, as a child, that is the only time I felt safe with my dad.
My dad was an alcoholic. He was a stranger to me. He was unable to love and nurture me the way my mom did. When he and Mom divorced when I was thirteen, I don’t even remember his leaving us. I remember mainly the bad times. A lot of bad times and a lot of nightmares.
Dad and I did get together a few times since he and Mom divorced. It was good, but still uncomfortable. He was who he was and I love him for that today. You see, I, too, am an alcoholic. And once I hit my bottom and went to a 21-day treatment facility for alcohol abuse, I started to understand the disease. And then I got to understand my dad.
When Dad died we flew one of his “friends” to California from Rhode Island for Dad’s service. The family was told that my dad died in the gutters of Rhode Island. This pains me immensely…his battle with alcoholism. But everything started falling into place and the pieces of the puzzle showed me that because of alcoholism, my dad was unable to show love, nurturing, attention, or even carry on a conversation. Perhaps it was his upbringing as well. Who knows. Doesn’t matter. But I know that when I was in the depths of my disease, I either needed a drink, was drunk, or hungover. Not a very nice person to be around. That was my dad. I understand.
Today my dad is with me constantly. He’s got my back. We love each other, have fun together and, more importantly, understand each other. Right before going to rehab I pleaded with my dad in heaven to help me stop drinking, “I think you know what I’m going through. Please help me!” Soon thereafter I was gifted with a whole new life with purpose and meaning and lightness and joy. Self-acceptance and worthiness came. Life was good. I had a Higher Power who guided me and taught me to appreciate, be humble and grateful.
I’d say for the first half of my 13-1/2 years of sobriety I stayed close to AA and did what was suggested. My life was full. Full of good stuff. Then I allowed the gifts of sobriety to make me too busy for my gift of sobriety. I “one day at a time” stopped going to meetings, practicing the Twelve Steps of AA, being sponsored or sponsoring, and, most of all, I failed to give away what was so freely given to me when I needed it most. I forgot what it was like to be a newcomer.
So when offered a shot of tequila I unthinkingly and bogusly said, “No, thank you. I haven’t had a drink for 13-1/2 years.” “Well, I’ll leave it for you in case you change your mind.” That drink yelled out me so loudly. I had no insurance from going to meetings and being of service and remembering what it’s like to be a newcomer. Damn. I drank it. Immediately the disease shouted, “More!!!” And so the lying, cheating, sneaking, and all the negativity that comes with being in the disease came back like a ball of fire. I continued to sneak drinks. And when sneaking at my son’s wedding the next week in Puerto Vallarta, a relative of my daughter-in-law came to me at the reception to say, “I have to tell you this. Your dad’s presence is SO STRONG here!”
For real? My dad died in the gutters of Rhode Island the year before my son was born. Why would he be here? Ah hah! To save my ass once again. You see. He really did love me but just didn’t know how to show me when I was little in my yellow PJs with the feet. And to this day I have such comfort knowing that my dad is here with me. Always. Forever. That’s what I see through the window. “I love you, Dad.”
My life is once again awesome today. But I shall not take this gift lightly. I shall stay close to the fellowship and pay my insurance premiums. I shall give what was so freely given to me. I shall not forget what it’s like to be a newcomer. I shall not forget that I am an alcoholic, a grateful alcoholic in recovery, sharing the message of Experience, Strength and Hope.
For those interested in Gifts with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and have a great weekend!
From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Experience on HOPE.