(Unfortunately, This YouTube Video Is No Longer Available To See)
Is your inner-child thriving and fully available in your life? Does he or she get to play, to engage with others in a dynamic and mischievous way? This fun video reminds us what it’s like to feel alive and to let loose, to challenge others in an atmosphere of camaraderie and playfulness. It makes us yearn to have more fun, be more relational, spontaneous and to dance more. And especially, to not be so serious all of the time.
As adults, we definitely have our load of responsibilities, which can easily pull us away from our playful inner-child. However, when we take our adult obligations too seriously, and don’t carve the time and resources to rest and repair, play and enjoy life, our resiliency zone shrinks. Our resiliency zone is our neurobiological inner space from where we thrive and enjoy life, where we live from self-efficacy and genuine empowerment. When we live outside of our zone, we often mask our vulnerabilities, genuine needs and longings, and ultimately cannot sustain the numerous stressors we all face.
Of course, I am not suggesting we regress back to our four-year-old selves, and forget about being interdependent, responsible and reliable adults. Such a drastic pendulum swing would destroy our personal lives, and create havocs in the lives of the people we love and who depend on us. This would not be a smart idea!
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A much better idea is to create an adaptive and harmonious balance between the needs of the inner-child and those of being a responsible and dependable adult.
If your playful inner-child is nowhere to be found, if your first thought when I suggest to reacquaint yourself to him or her is immediate rejection, you can be pretty sure that the responsible parts of you [inner-pusher, inner-perfectionist, inner-critic, etc.], have taken over, and now contribute in keeping the playful child inaccessible.
Most of us can’t indulge too much or stray too long from our responsibilities. However, the lack of balance between such opposite states of being [responsible adult <—> playful child] has a price tag attached to it. Sometimes, a very expensive one, especially in the long run. The lack of stamina and enjoyment of life; excess stress and its negative effects on the body; avoidance of intimacy with others; not feeling safe to share what is really going in our personal life; feeling bored or “blah” or even depressed about our future; using drugs, sex and alcohol to numb the pain of our unsatisfying and stressful life, are but a few of the many side effects of not being in touch with the younger, more carefree and playful versions of our Self.
Einstein discovered that energy never dies, but only transforms. The same applies to the selves in our psyche. The younger parts of us that are no longer who we really are in our daily lives are not forever gone. The core and formative experiences we had during the different stages of our childhood, the people who touched and influenced our lives, the feelings we experienced as our sense of self formed are all still available to us when we know how to induce them.
Why should we care to be in touch with such younger versions of ourselves? Because when a part of us is disowned, it goes underground and, therefore, we have no access to it. These disowned aspects of ourselves live in what we commonly refer to as our unconscious. It is not because we are not conscious of them that they don’t have a strong influence in our lives. Actually, it is quite the contrary. The lack of awareness, and of integration of our disowned selves prevents us to have a genuine influence on them. It is only when we begin the reacquaint ourselves with our disowned selves, and to reintegrate them in our lives, that we can have genuine control and power on when and how they show up, with whom and to what degree. At the end of the day, it is all about integration. A balanced life requires that we be willing and able—sometimes incrementally—to embrace all parts of us that have been repressed, or rendered unconscious.
The chart above, drawn from the great work of J. Tamar Stone: “Selves in a Box”, gives us a good idea of the health and integration of our playful child in our life. The three different categories point to:
- The major roles and gifts of the playful child.
- What happens if our playful child is too powerful in our life—if he or she drives our psychic car.
- What happens if our playful child is disowned in our life—if he or she has been repressed or made unconscious?
As you read through each category, notice what strikes a cord as to how the playful child is integrated, or forgotten in your life. If you notice that your playful child has too much power in your life, or, on the other hand, he or she has been repressed or disowned, pay special attention to the last bullet point in the sections: “… is Overly Powerful” and “… is Disowned”. As a preview, our projections and judgments on others are a powerful indicator of the energies, or selves, we disown in us. More on this in a future Post! But for now, our take-away is on the need to re-integrate our playful child; to do so in a way that adds to our lives, not jeopardize them.
May you have access to your playful child. May you share some good belly laughs with the inner-children of the people in your lives. And, like the children in the video, be silly and dance your hearts out!
C. Nathan Bergeron, LMFT, L.Ac. ©