A few days ago I traveled back east to spend Christmas at home. This has actually been a pretty big deal for me because this is the first Christmas that I get to spend back home in three years. The last two years I spent abroad in East Asia where there was virtually no Christmas decorations or “Christmas spirit” to be found.
Not only did it lack in the whole “Christmas spirit” department, but it hardly ever snowed there and, if it did, it was the kind of snow that only lasted for a few hours or a day and melted. It certainly wasn’t anything that anyone could sled on, make a snowman with, or really enjoy in any real way.
So the other night it began to snow and it carried on through the morning. It wasn’t too much or two little – just right. And even if it was less or more I still would’ve felt excited and filled with gratitude for being able to experience snow: the crunch of snow under my boots, the white snow covering the bare tree branches, and the sight and feel of snowflakes falling.
Despite my own elation and appreciation, I quickly began to hear all the natives who haven’t lived in other locations that don’t get snow start the classic complaints of: “Why do people have to drive like idiots in the snow?!” or “Darn now I have to shuffle the driveway!”
I guess that’s just a mere representation of the irony that is our common way of living: We wish we had the things we don’t have rather than to simply accept and appreciate the things we do have. It seems that it is not until we actually experience not having something that we really allow ourselves to genuinely appreciate and enjoy it.
But this was not always case. We weren’t always this bitter. When we were kids seeing snow falling outside the window would make us so incredibly excited. We would run to the coat rack and and try to bundle up as quickly as possible just so we could try to catch snowflakes on our tongue before the snow stopped falling.
As adults, do we ever do that? No, because we are putting so much more energy into disliking what is happening rather than simply enjoying it. We reject what is happening rather than to accept it and move with the flow of what is happening. And to top that off – we may also have an internal inner critic telling us not to do really enjoy it and “play” because we are “adults” and that’s a “childish” thing to do. We tell ourselves that only kids can excited over such little things and enjoy it.
As a result, we don’t really allow ourselves to be joyful and excited or sad. We ignore and repress either emotion, so what we do express is negativity and complaints.
That’s one of the big differences between children and adults. As children, we acted out of impulse. We were present. We accepted the moment and lived out of the present moment. As a result, we were easily excited and joyful and if something upset us we cried right then and there and then let it go.
We didn’t hold on to and repress all these emotions. We expressed them in the moment. As a result, we were more in touch with our true sense of self – all because we were young and we weren’t filled with a ton of unexpressed emotional baggage.
As adults however, we are often rejecting what is happening rather than accepting it. Then we’re wishing that things were like they were in the “good ol’ days” or hoping that things will get better in the future.
Clearly, focusing primarily on the past or future is an illusion that only keeps us trapped in this miserable cycle of unhappiness. It causes us to feel disconnected from our true selves. And so, we are unhappy and we don’t know how to fulfill ourselves. As a result, we fall into habits to gain false short-term satisfactions by becoming consumed with material items, alcohol, drugs, TV shows, our relationships, and so on. In other cases, we may feel the need to have kids because, deep down, we know that our children possess the tremendous amount of excitement, joy, and love that we ourselves are lacking.
So how can we start to truly embrace our inner child and feel more reconnected to our true selves as adults?
Focus on the present moment.
Though it may not make sense right away, everything happens out of the present moment. Nothing ever happens in the past or future – it is always in the present. The present moment is the only thing that is actually real.
Something that happened 10 years ago is over. It’s done. It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t impact the present moment – at least not if you cause it to impact the present. It’s when we allow the past or future to impact the present that it negatively effects us because it takes us away from what is happening right in front of us.
Change can happen only in the present moment. As children, we did this naturally because we had no past or future to think about, so in order to reconnect, we must focus on being present.
Seriously – when someone or something upsets you, cry. All of our negative emotions – fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, etc. all stem back to a sense of suffering and sadness. Now, I’m not saying just go off and force yourself to cry over every bad thing that happens to do (that can take you out of the present). Rather, when the emotion comes up to just let it out and cry then cry. As children we naturally did this, but as adults we often don’t let ourselves do this because we tell ourselves it may not be “socially appropriate” (a common thing that we were “shamed” for as children). But the truth is that by expressing it in that moment you’ll feel better.
If you’re concerned about others seeing you, there are ways to cry in public places without really drawing much attention to yourself (sunglasses, bathroom break, etc.). And even if someone does see you, so what?
Also, it’s worth noting that you won’t always cry over bad things. We cry over good and joyful things as well. If that comes up, then allow it to happen. I’ve found that allowing ourselves to simply cry really allows us to process what we need to in order to heal and release what we need to release.
Be spontaneous. Be creative. Have fun! Take a go dancing or take a Zumba class. Start a new craft. Take a trip. Build a snowman. Go sledding. Paint, color, or draw. Play softball. Sing or play a musical instrument.
Put forth the effort to “play” every day. And if you catch yourself making the excuse of “I don’t have time”, then shut off the TV. Make it a pact that rather than watch any TV, you will “play” instead. When we allow ourselves to “play” we can begin to become more aligned with our inner child’s natural way of being.
Start Embracing Your Inner Child NOW!
In what ways have you been keeping yourself away from the present moment? In what activities or situations can you start to be more presently engaged?
What kinds of emotions have you been repressing? What kinds of things should you just let yourself “cry” about?
How can you start implementing more “play” into your life? What kinds of activities can you start doing that you’ve always wanted to do but you have never done?
Share in the comments below! I’d love to help you on your journey!