Do you remember being a fearless child? Or do you remember dreaming of how fearless you could be? As a young boy or young girl, you may have continuously put yourself out there by walking up to a stranger and sharing your day spontaneously to make enduring connections, try new things like the taste of a foreign food like cricket to scoring a homerun on your first baseball game. The possibilities were endless and the thoughts "you can't do it" seemed non-existent or on low volume.
However, as you age and become adults; you become “mature.” Maturity is associated with respect and honor. On the contrary, is not widely talked about that adulthood is also associated with a loss in resilience. Compared to when you were a child, as an adult you have a lot more obligations, concerns, demands, roles, and the list continues… The truth about resilience is that everyone can use a bit more of it, particularly because it can help you get through challenging, uncertain, and stressful situations. Nurturing your inner child is the key to developing more resilience. According to Jackie Tassiello, a board-certified licensed art therapist, "We live in a culture that perpetuates a lot of dysfunctional, difficult, and hurtful institutions." She continues, "These systems could push us to foster just the aspects of ourselves that are valued, and many of us lose sight of cultivating our inherent abilities, hobbies, preferences, or even personality structure." Let’s discover what it means to accept your inner child and how doing so may help you develop into a more resilient adult.
Accepting Your Inner Child: What It Really Means
When you are a child, most decisions are made by your primary caretakers; which determine who you become. Children respond to their primary caretakers by safeguarding their attachments to the caretakers to stay secure. Most children do this by adapting to what is expected, encouraged, or expressed — whether implicitly or overtly. "Accepting our inner child essentially means that we realize that our thinking and patterns of behavior are no longer beneficial, protecting us or delivering the same desirable results as they did back when we were children, and commit towards the effort of reparenting those pieces of ourselves," she continues.
With this realization in mind, accepting your inner child is all about regaining a feeling of emotional safety from mental health symptoms of trauma, depression, and/or anxiety that life throws at you. When you feel safe, truly safe inside your body, this evokes confidence and freedom to experience the entire range of your emotions.
The ability to feel and observe all the emotions is true liberation
from the shackles of mental health disorders.
When you observe your emotions, you begin to deal with them with compassion for the human experience. According to Shakti Therapy & Healing Services, based in Los Angeles, CA it is essential to pause and reflect;
What is my emotion trying to tell me?
What messages does my anger, depression, or anxiety have for me at this moment?
When else has this emotion come up during my childhood? How did I respond then?
How can I honor my emotion to love my inner child right now?
Taking time to self-reflect and answer these questions in the moment can increase your self-awareness and help you develop insight in the areas that are unhealed and still impacted by childhood trauma, causing adulthood depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms. When you respond to your emotions with compassion and awareness, you heal your inner child and build increasing resilience as an adult.
How Accepting Your Inner Child Helps You Develop into a Mentally Resilient Person
Loving the spirit of your inner child may naturally increase resilience. Therapists at Shakti Therapy & Healing Services offer inner child therapy that may assist you in understanding your deepest feelings as true and genuine, restoring your self-trust, enhancing and building your connection with vulnerability, and learning to create graceful boundaries– all of this work adds to improved resilience."
Bringing more childlike play and pleasure into your life is a crucial aspect of loving your inner child. According to Tassiello, "Creativity and restorative, revitalizing activities typically promote resilience." Furthermore, attempting new things can naturally increase resilience since it encourages you to become more adept at problem-solving and navigating the unknown environment.
So, whether it's a pastime or activity from your childhood, like figure skating, dancing, biking, drawing, playing with crystals and alters, or acting (also known as playing make-believe), or something you've always wanted to try, like woodworking, pottery, or boxing, tapping into the child through enjoyable activities can ignite feelings of pure joy, creativity, and relaxation while also strengthening you as an adult.
Mental Health Benefits of Accepting Your Inner Child
An advantage to managing your mental health is loving your inner child and developing more resiliency as a result. This process also allows you to shift your pain into personal power by becoming aware of your patterns. In addition, with awareness comes the action of pausing and creating space between your feelings, ideas, and actions. Even as an adult, all parts of you are still present inside of you. The journey to loving your inner child is a journey of rediscovery and reconnection with a part of you that may feel lost, distant, or non-existent in adulthood. This perspective allows you to begin incorporating what your inner child actually requires into your adult life and begin the healing process from trauma, depression, and/or anxiety.
Accepting the child inside has another mental health advantage in that as you work on reparenting, you start to learn how to express more challenging feelings and repressed emotions. This plays a big role in releasing trauma, depression, and/or anxiety from the body; it may feel like a huge weight being lifted off of our shoulders. In an attempt to keep yous safe, your inner protective child shields you away from difficult feelings — shame, guilt, anger, and concern. When this protective mechanism comes into play, it is normal to repeat old patterns that show up as mental health triggers and impulsive responses to trauma, depression and/or anxiety. When you allow yourself to feel the difficult feelings through therapy, you can then release the feelings, and experience them safely.
Dare to uncover what you love, what brings you joy and happiness, and interact honestly with your desires and live a happier and wholesome life. Remember, your body holds so much wisdom. You are in control of your healing. Everything you need is within you. You have what you need to learn new skills and tools to shift your struggles into strengths.
Ektha Aggarwal is a licensed Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapist (KAP) and CEO of Shakti Therapy and Healing Services in Los Angeles, CA. Ektha specializes in psychedelic therapy to decolonize the stigma around South Asian mental health and instill the concept of deep fulfillment. To learn more about Shakti Therapy and Healing services, please visit www.shaktitherapyhealing.com or email Ektha at info@shaktitherapyhealing.