I have a very prominent child living inside me. And she is neeeeeedy. Ok, no, I’ll be nice. She is just needing lots of attention right now.
But it makes sense, doesn’t it? After years of ignoring her, neglecting her, abusing, shaming and never giving her what she wants, I’d be needy too (okay, I get that I’m talking about me here, but stay with me…).
Through my personal work and very much with the help of The Artists Way, I have learned about this inner child of mine. Julie Cameron calls it the Artist Child. We all have one. We all have this very special, fragile part of us that holds all of our deepest desires, passions, sensitivities and needs. As we grow older, this inner child often gets forgotten. It becomes very easy for us to ignore it and to even shame it for having such “silly” needs and “selfish” requests. So we cast it aside, shoving its voice deeper and deeper down until its only a soft stifled whisper. But here’s the thing – it never leaves us. “It,” is us. It is the very nature of who we are, on the truest, deepest level. The more we push this voice down, the more this inner child becomes hurt, and eventually, the more we hurt ourselves.
How do we push it down? By over-working. By telling ourselves we are a failure. By not giving in to our cravings. By setting rules for ourselves. By punishing ourselves for not being, “better.”
Because self-care is selfish, right? Taking time to do something just for ourselves – something we simply love and maybe dream of doing – is irresponsible, isn’t it? This won’t make us money, or get us ahead in our career, or give us the grandiose, successful “image” we are striving to uphold… right?
Well, no. We are wrong. When we do not feed our creative needs or give in to those nurturing actions we know we love, we are drilling ourselves further and further into a dark hole, and this is where we eventually lose ourselves. And then that “money” and “success” and that “image” become even further away.
This happened to me 3 years ago. I went away to University, believing that this was what I wanted and “should do” in order to have any sort of life and career. I left my performing degree in the past and for a year, had no creative outlets. I became clinically depressed, and although my eating disorder had already taken hold, it’s grasp became completely unbreakable and engulfed every aspect of my life. I fell apart. I completely and utterly lost every sense of who I was. But I still didn’t get it. I still didn’t believe that I wanted to return to my performing career. “That would be silly. I wouldn’t ever be good enough. Who am I kidding? You are such liar.”
My inner needs were screaming at me but, since I had been discarding them for so long, I don’t even think I could hear them anymore. Until I began to listen again…
Now, do you know what my inner child tells me? It says,
“But I just want to stay home and drink tea and bake and do art.”
“But I want to go out with my friends and drink wine.”
“But I just want to spend the entire day in a cafe reading and journalling and drinking Americanos.”
“But… I want the scone. I don’t want oatmeal today”
“But… I love carrot cake.”
“Remember Mom’s lasagna? I used to lovvveee my mom’s lasagna.”
“Remember going out for Teen Burgers with Dad? Why can’t I do that again?”
“But I’m tired. My legs hurt. I don’t want to work out today.”
“But I want to spend time with my family… I don’t want to be alone at the gym.”
Sigh… what a bully.
It is my relationship with my inner child that needs to recover. I really hurt my little self, all those years ago when I began to neglect her and shame her for just being herself. When I began giving her so many rules. So now, that ten year old me is needing a LOT of care. A lot of compassion and comforting. Maybe more so than most 20-something-ers. So I’m a 26 year old learning how to be kind to herself… learning how to be a kid, again… so what?
For me, this means going for nature walks…spending hours in a cafe writing…buying myself big a** pieces of baking and bouquets of sunflowers that I can’t afford… taking myself on dates to just sit in the park in the sun… taking time to rest and watch endless TV. Now that I’m beginning to listen, this inner child has kind of “come back” with a vengeance, if you will. I’m getting urges to paint, to do crafts, to watch Disney movies, to dance. To eat all the childhood foods I used to love – Kraft Dinner with Hot Dogs! Grilled Cheese! Honey Nut Cheerios!
I still struggle with listening to my inner child and to what she wants, but I’m getting better. This is the real recovery. Healing this relationship with myself. And if it means spoiling that little kid inside me until she trusts me again.. then that’s the work I have to do.
Scones. Americanos. Journaling. Getting lost in my imagination.
Early morning walks.
It is okay to nuture yourself. It is okay to give yourself something you want and ignore that voice that tells you you are being irresponsible or selfish. It is okay to NOT take that shift at work because really, you just want a day to do NOTHING. Sure, you have no plans. You have nothing you “need” to do, and maybe you won’t even end up being “productive.” But by truly taking care of yourself and taking yourself on your own special dates, you will be more open and aware of who you are. And I truly believe that this is when true “success,” finds you.
Today… I am giving up a shift at work. I am sitting on my bum for hours … writing… eating a delicious scone …drinking coffee…and baking in my kitchen whilst having a dance party.
Now you tell me,
What is your favourite way to nurture yourself??
Today I have a very special guest post for you! My dear friend Joyce from…