“One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.” ~ Sam Levenson
‘You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…’ I can hear John Lennon’s immortal crooning in my mind. Isn’t that what children are so good at? They dream. They dream frequently, and they dream about anything they want, and they dream big. Left unfettered from cruelty, their minds are not naturally wired for questioning their self worth. They don’t think of excuses, they just follow their innate sense of curiosity and joy, they let their minds wander, and upon finding something of interest they become completely absorbed in whatever they are doing.
I love to watch Ruby play; she has such a vivid imagination. When she gets into her own little world she dresses up and tears around the house using whatever toys and props (usually kitchen utensils) are needed to fashion her make believe scenarios. If I call her name while she is ensconced in her imaginings she is completely deaf to me. Her excitement at what I would consider a mundane activity never fails to brighten my heart.
I think being a parent probably makes it easier to connect with our bounteous childlike energy, as our children help us to see the world through their amazed eyes.
Ignite Your Childlike State of Wonder:
How many of us can say at some point while we were growing up we were told by a parent, a teacher, or a well-meaning adult, ‘Stop daydreaming!’ It is misguided to think that so called ‘daydreaming’ is a negative trait. Far from it. This is the tool of creation. Creativity is inherently abundant in youngsters, and the school system with its rigid curriculum is not conducive to nurturing this very important aspect of a child’s development.
By the time we reach adulthood most of us, (to some degree), have usually had the light of our dreams diluted or even drained out of us completely. A constant barrage of negative messages from the world around us can eventually drown out our intuitive childlike selves, fostering self-doubt within us instead. The mental baggage is accrued over time, and then it becomes so much harder to follow our dreams, for fear of failure. To be truly ourselves means letting go of other people’s expectations for how we conduct our lives. It means sticking our heads above the parapet. It takes courage to hold our dreams out in front of us like a lantern, glowing with the perseverance and faith that we experienced in our childhood.
“Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence.” ~ Norman Podhoretz
Unlike Peter Pan, we all grow up, (well, most of us!) but that doesn’t mean life has to be all serious. Although we have responsibilities, bills to pay and all the trimmings that go with adulthood to deal with; the inner child that dwells within each of us can make being an adult so much more fun. We have a responsibility to love, nurture and parent our own inner child. And when properly cared for, children are happy and they flourish. The benefits to us as individuals (and the people around us), of embracing our inner child are manifold: increased joy, laughter, spontaneity, love, emotional honesty, and chiefly, living in the present moment. We do not brood on the past or worry about the future when we are fully engaged in the now…
“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” ~ Heraclitus
I’m not promoting the kind of ‘throw your toys out the pram’ mentality of narcissistic demands or temper tantrums, dependency, neediness, petulance and general egocentric behaviour. Neither am I suggesting that we live in a world of fantasy. But if we can access that playful and innocent side of ourselves, we can harness this enthusiasm in multifarious ways. We can use that sense of wonder and awe and intense focus (without judgement) in whatever endeavour we like, or indeed, even just to elevate our everyday lives. It is all about achieving that balance between our heads and our hearts. Not living life solely in our conceptual minds, or always wearing our hearts on our sleeves with complete naïveté.
The original Jungian Child Archetype was the basis for many theories and development of the modern term ‘inner child’ including the work of Dr Eric Byrne in Transactional Analysis, and study of the ego states: Parent Child, Adult.
Getting in touch with our feelings can sometimes bring up unresolved trauma or an emotional blockage. However, we can begin to heal when we become conscious of the past wounds our inner child has suffered. Suppressed pain can hinder our functioning at full capacity as an Adult and Parent.
I love this talk by Eckhart Tolle on being yourself:
To coin Ruby’s favourite word, existence is ‘awesome’. Now I’ve got John Lennon in my head again! ‘I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.’
Here’s my own mnemonic: Doing Really Exciting Activities Mindfully