A Childlike Heart Equals…
A child can teach an adult three things: To be happy for no reason. To always be curious. To fight tirelessly for something. – Paulo Coelho
Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong” – Marianne Williamson
To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe. – Wayne Dyer
Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart. – Mencius
I’m always intrigued by coaches and gurus that advise others to nurture their inner child.
Exactly what does that mean?
When I was footloose and fancy free, I would take myself on personal dates. Just to make sure that my inner child felt loved.
And as it normally happens, I grew up and began to get serious. That inner child should have grown up as well, right?
We both had much more relevant things to take care of.
We had a house to run. A kid to care for. People to please.
But once I found myself suddenly single and trying to get a grip on life, I went back to this advice.
Who is my inner child again? And how do I possibly begin to nurture him or her in this state?
Honestly, my brain immediately went to an image of Sybil.
After shaking that image loose, I decided to do some research.
That research led me to a lot of spiritual teachers. And stuff that sounded rather “cosmic”.
That didn’t work for me.
I’m one of those peculiar people who like to get understanding with knowledge.
High spiritual speak-eze, cosmic beings and elven language is all well and good for movies. But I needed to make some changes. And I needed to make them pronto.
I needed real words. Real talk.
Keep It Super Simple
So, the first thing I looked for was what did (most) people mean when they referred to their inner child?
Usually, some type or group of qualities were mentioned. Qualities that spoke on the virtues of childhood.
- Wonder and awe
- Beauty and playfulness
- Innocence and openness
- Trust and honesty
- Love and joy
- Creativity and curiosity
- Determination and strength
- Gentleness and enthusiasm
They are qualities that are inherently within us.
As we grow into adulthood, what we are conditioned to think and feel include:
- Jealousy and hate
- Disrespect and cruelty
- Abuse and neglect
- Insecurity and fear
- Lying and cheating
- Sadness and deception
- Anger and hostility
- Negative judgement and resentment
I realized I had lost at least 7 childhood virtues. In their place stood 7 of the conditioned feelings. The result of years of conditioning and neglecting to nurture my inner child.
Of course, neither are complete lists. Nor will we always embody aspects of one list and not the other. We are human. There is a reason the phrase “roller coaster of emotions” exists.
Once I understood the virtues of childhood versus all the “anti-virtues,” I had another question.
How can I go from point B (my conditional state) to point A (my child-like state)?
What practical things could I do to find joy, creativity and enthusiasm?
While desperately looking for a way to keep my childlike heart, I found 30+ ways to be childlike. Without being destructive, that is.
Today, I’ll list some of them:
- Read a book you loved as a kid.
- Run or skip if you feel like it.
- Sing, or dance in the rain.
- Tell someone they’re your hero.
- Tell your mom and dad (or favorite relative) you love them.
- Ask for help if you need it.
- Try a hands-on project.
- Cry if you need to.
- Relax and do nothing.
Granted, I didn’t try all these things at once.
I did something until it became automatic. Not necessarily a habit. Just something that I was familiar with. Something I could do when I felt like an overwhelmed adult. Something that I knew could get me quick results. If it made me as giddy and excited as a schoolgirl getting her first mani-pedi, I knew I had found a keeper.
So, now that I know how to tap into my inner child, I can combat the overwhelm of being grown.
It’s not that I don’t want to be grown. On the contrary. I love being able to do some things I couldn’t do as a kid. It’s just that now, I can approach those things with pure joy and excitement.
Not dread and stress.
Nurture Your Inner Child
Nurturing my inner child has helped me become a more peaceful adult. Even a more playful mother. Although I can’t speak from my kids point of view, it has mad parenting more joyful.
I know they sense that. It shows in their behavior.
So, if you ever catch me singing and dancing in the rain, trust that I still have all my marbles.
Know that the result is a better parent and friend.