If you can imagine a little child anywhere between the age of zero to seven, and when you picture this child, look at how innocent they are, how naive and ignorant to the workings of the world. They don’t know how to understand many things and put their experiences into the correct context, the way adult logic often does.
Now imagine that little child is you. Put yourself back into your shoes as a child and remember the experiences that you went through and how you perceived them.
I recently discovered my child self in the form of a memory that appeared during a meditation. The memory came from a time when I was 17 years old and I was upset over a boy. I had broken a glass on the floor a few days earlier but had not cleaned it up yet. I remember bawling my eyes out crying over and over again:
“Nobody loves me! Nobody gives a s**t about me! No one would care if I disappeared off the face of the earth! I hate myself!” I remember holding a piece of that glass, hovering over my wrist and thinking the unthinkable. But thoughts of my mum’s devastation stopped me though.
As I remembered that day, those words seemed so familiar to me as I realised that that mental tape of nobody loving me, nobody caring about me and how useless, hopeless or how much of a failure I was used to endlessly roll around in my mind for most of my entire childhood. Somehow through some experiences throughout my life, I had adopted this belief and it had haunted me and underpinned anything that I did throughout my childhood and then it followed me into adulthood and re-invented itself in full force when I became a mother.
Every time life didn’t go the way I wanted it to this tape would play, further reinforcing these deep beliefs that I held inside my mind. Although I succeeded at most things (also a pattern from my childhood) and was able to control most of my life to go the way I wanted it to, I found that once I had children, I could no longer control these things. That is when I lapsed back into this repetitive destructive thinking, except this time it was also to the detriment of my children.
The first six months of my second son’s life was full of me being angry, guilty and feeling like the worst mother in the world and there came a time when this had to stop.
Although I dabbled in personal development and had always had a passion in this area, my person journey was only just beginning in this field and these thoughts, these intense emotions that rose to the surface from the depths of my childhood core paved the path to the most liberating knowledge that I’ve ever received and that which I now teach thousands of mothers in my Be the Change Program.
Where this thinking comes from though is outdated information about life. As a child you form beliefs about life. You look for ways to feel good, worthy, valuable, loved and nurtured and you do whatever you need to in order to fulfill these needs. You form identities, ways you feel you need to behave in the world in order to achieve these things and you take these identities with you into adulthood.
My identity was the smart, capable, likable one. This child-self needed to have life going well and see evidence of me being this smart, capable and likable one in order for me to feel good about myself. Whenever this did not occur then the self-criticism, the self-blame and the nasty tape would begin to play, sending me back into the pits of despair again.
It was imperative to this child’s survival that she keep trying to get her life right, in order to protect herself from pain. This little girl within me was the striver. She got things done. She was capable and intelligent and likable, but only when she got her own way. When she didn’t she became desperate to get back to feeling good enough, and this is when the anger would set in.
But she was tired. She needed a rest. She had spent so much time controlling her world (or at least trying to) and getting so emotional when she couldn’t, that something needed to shift. This little girl needed to take a break.
Once I found her within me, I began to release her and I did this by recognising when she had arisen. I could feel her arrival in the way of me feeling tense about the need for life to go a certain way, when I needed to be seen as capable, having it all together, being organised all the time, and then feeling useless or wanting to give up when I couldn’t.
When I realised that this small child self was here, I would talk to her:
“It’s okay honey. You don’t need to be here anymore. You have done a wonderful job and I love how you get things done and achieve well, but you can have a rest now. Go play. Be that little girl that you wanted to be. Go play with your dolls and live the carefree life that you want to live. I love you and respect you, but I’ve got it from here.”
I would imagine her pushed to the side of my mind playing with her barbie doll while one of the angels stroked her hair as she chattered endlessly like excited little girls do.
This image in my mind of letting this little self go, puts me back at ease and I can begin to assess the situation with my adult mind again. The one that now knows reality and has learnt how to look at a situation with perspective, can expand on the small picture out to the bigger picture and who doesn’t get consumed by what’s going on so much.
You see everyone lives with this small self within them, because that is what was set up when your brain was developing. Unless you begin to identify the thinking that was set up as a child, you unconsciously re-enact those same habits as an adult, and if you adopted incorrect beliefs about self-worth, were exposed to criticism, anger, nastiness, judgements or abuse of any kind as a child, then it is likely that your small self operates a lot more than you might think.
In some way this self is trying to protect you. She is trying to comfort you, help you feel good enough, stop any pain from getting to you and going through this same control and prevent that my child self was, then perhaps if life doesn’t go to her plan and you do get exposed to life’s mishaps, perhaps she delves into feeling like a failure again, for this is what regularly happens with someone with depression.
It is so important to get in touch with this small self of yours, this identity that perceived life in her incorrect, naive little way, because she does need to step aside now. Find her good traits and how they’ve served you and respect and love her for those qualities, then release her from her duties now. Let her play and live carelessly. Give her a rest, because you have a new perspective now. You are learning new information now. And once you’ve released her, go about learning more about how to perceive life in alignment with reality and going for what you want, instead of living in fear of life going wrong and feeling hurt or useless again, like you felt when small self had taken over.
To some this post will make sense, to others, not so much. It’s an interesting exercise to grab yourself a journal and ask for your small self to step forward and say what she wants to. Let her release her fears and angers, her hurts over the past, and then ask her to step aside and let the wiser self inside you come forward to console, counsel, love her and set her free.
I did this in my mediation. I cuddled her like I would my own daughter. I stroked her hair while she fell apart in that room as a 17 year old and I allowed her to cry all of those emotions that she had felt all those years. Those years of not feeling loved and not good enough and rejected and misunderstood. I freed that small self from all that pent up hurt, and then I let her go and play, because it was my time to grow up, live life and adopt a new way to perceive life with the mindset of a wiser, older person.
It was my time to finally feel free, because I am good enough. I am worthy. I am loved and I love myself. I deserve a happy life and now that small self is resting it’s time to enjoy life with clarity and real, true joy, the way life’s meant to be.