Hey hey,
This truly has been a journey for me and I finally feel like I'm nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. For me the turning point was finding out I was pregnant. I had so many fears that I would not be a good parent, and when I really started to explore those emotions within myself I realized that my fear stemmed from my own experiences as a child. I realized that I was in a state of mind where I pitied children, because I hated being one. I decided to go for a few therapy sessions to try and put these feelings together and understand myself better and I was lead on a journey of self discovery in the child-adult-parent model.
In the 1950's, psychologist Eric Berne put together this model based on his interaction with his own clients. The idea behind it is that people will go in between these three states at some point and they all make up who we are. In some cases they work well together and some cases they don't.
Your inner child gives you fun, adventure, spontaneity, intuition and creativity. Your inner parent acts as a parent, taking on problem solving and acting as a caretaker. The parent also makes judgements and criticisms about your surroundings and will use that to guide the inner child. The inner adult is essentially just like an adult, taking on real responsibilities and getting work done. It also acts to mediate between the inner child and inner parent.
What I learnt of myself was that my inner child had been hiding away, scared to be herself because my inner parent is quite harsh, and quick to criticise. Basically I was being too critical on myself for past mistakes and I had convinced myself I didn't deserve to have fun. I talked to my therapist, I told him that my inner child must be dead. He told me she wasn't dead, just scared to show herself. He asked me what I find fun and I realized that I genuinely had no idea. From there it's been a journey of self discovery.
Mistakes don't define who we are as people, our reactions and responses do. I learnt that a mistake is just a mistake. Guilt is productive for some time but allowing yourself to hold onto shame doesn't help you. I had to let go of my shame, and forgive myself for my mistakes. I realized that I could be happy.
It's so important to let your inner child out because we need creativity, intuition and spontaneity. Although I've always liked adventure I never allowed my mind to be fully free to venture wherever. Even when I was having fun there was always a critical side telling me I was being silly and unproductive. When we allow ourselves to have fun, be creative and adventurous then we work harder, procrastinate less and feel better in the long run. Fun is so important and everyone needs to let their inner child out.
I wrote a letter to my 17 year old self. It was filled with blame and accusations. My therapist edited the letter and the changes he made where changing "you did this" to "I felt like this". It was important for me to know that I was doing the best I could back then. I would blame myself for what I did, thinking of where I could be now if I didn't make those mistakes. But that's not the point, the point is that mistakes can have a positive effect when you learn from them and allow those lessons to change you. Whether or not I would be better off now is irrelevant. Because I can only move forward today, and my regrets will prevent me from doing so.
The reason I feel okay sharing this personal journey with you all is because I think it's a common problem that a lot of us share. And I know that a lot of people have a similarly complicated dynamic between their inner child, parent and adult. This can be due to your own experiences or how you were raised. But what I've learnt is that if you want to let your inner child out to play then you need to teach your inner parent how to forgive.
It's an amazing feeling to allow that creative, adventurous, fun part of you to burst out with confidence because it's an important part of who you are. There is no benefit to constantly talking yourself down because it won't allow you to move forward.
So forgive yourself, set time apart in every day to find something fun, allow yourself guilt free fun time, let yourself outside the box, explore your emotions and never ever take on the negative criticisms of people (or yourself) who tell you to stop being yourself. When I learnt how to have fun, I found happiness, independence and strength in who I am as a person. And now.. I can actually say I am happy to be who I am.
Thanks for reading,
Model taken from: Eric Berne, Transactional analysis in psychotherapy (1961).
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