As few or as many lines as you choose
Share your findings
I remember when I first heard the term ‘inner child’, I pictured a pouting toddler, curled forward, arms hugging her knees. She was crouched somewhere deep inside of me, behind my ribs, peeking through the gaps like they were slatted window blinds. I felt unnerved by her presence. Did she need a snack? A cuddle? Someone to play with? It was hard enough meeting the needs of my own two children and suddenly I had a third small person to worry about. One who didn’t speak much but had the whole of my history wrapped quietly around her tongue.
When I was training to be a therapist we were encouraged to have a dialogue with our inner child. Good luck. Mine was uncooperative. She hid her face. Gazed at me with pleading eyes. Begged me silently to put her to bed and concentrate instead on being the ‘outer grown-up’ I was supposed to be. I soon realized she wasn’t alone in there. She was hanging out with my ‘inner control freak’, my ‘inner debbie downer’, my ‘inner hopeless romantic’, my ‘inner moody adolescent’ and my ‘inner catastrophist’. They were all having a fine old time.
Trying to get the attention of my tenants was a bit like attempting to recite poetry at rave. My inner child might have been monosyllabic, but the rest of them were a raucous crowd – constantly jostling to be heard.
We all have busy interiors. Different psychological paradigms assign this phenomenon varying labels (ego states and sub personalities to name a few). Whatever you wish to call them, our chaotic internal get togethers are often a result of neglected aspects of ourselves battling for the limelight.
Start to listen to the voices. Establish firm guidelines. I learnt not to let Debbie Downer and Hopeless Romantic meet for breakfast on Valentines Day, no matter how much they petitioned – it was never pretty. Catastrophist was banned from reading the newspapers for a little while and Control Freak was surprisingly calm when I instructed her to keep typing and stop tidying. I started dragging Adolescent to gigs with me and she stopped sulking about all the endless Saturday nights spent watching ‘The Love Boat’. I bought Child the dog she had been longing for, and we took a daily walk through the wooded trees in the park. Gradually she began to chat. She whispered a few secrets to me about connecting with my own children as well; secrets I had very nearly forgotten.
Ignoring the needy parts of ourselves will always have a consequence. Start tuning in to the voices in your head. Use your writing to help you hear what they have to say. Take a roll call. Write a dialogue between them all – is it a comical farce or a tension fuelled drama? Notice who’s mssing. Is there an aspect of yourself that you need to make more space for? Write them an entrance.
Share your findings! Post snippets of your dialogue in the comments section or simply let me know your thoughts about your own internal meet ups. Be playful – create an imaginary Facebook page for your various aspects or write about what they might Tweet to each other. Don’t over think this. Just write… and report back!
PS. Hopeless Romantic would like to wish you a “Very Happy Valentines Day!”
PPS. Debbie Downer and her new friend Sarcastic Susan would like to add (rolling their eyes in unison) “Whatever!”
“The avoidance of the anxiety of solitude by constant agitated diversion is what Kierkegaard, in a nice simile, likened to the settlers in the early days of America who used to beat on pots and pans at night to make enough din to keep the wolves away…” Rollo May 1975
What is your ‘agitated diversion’? What din do you make to keep the wolves away? This is an absurdly busy time of year… take ten minutes of silence and see what creeps into the space. What words lie dormant in the quiet? Before you are tempted to pick up your pots and pans – take another ten minutes and write something down. Go…