The Inner Child: Games, Patterns, and Fun

For years we’ve been talking about the inner child, how to heal her, how to nurture her, how to deal with her tantrums and her tender heart. I had a therapist tell me once that we are all four-year-olds emotionally. We have that part of us, at any rate.

My sisters and I used to play this game called “I’m Her!” We’d open up a magazine and flip through the pages. When we saw something we liked, we’d drop our finger on it and say, “I’m her!” — Sometimes it was “I’m him.” It depended on what it was about the image that we most liked or wanted in our lives. But the game was always about pointing out what we related to, what we longed for, what we liked. It was, in retrospect, a way of defining ourselves in relation to each other. That’s important for four girls living in the same space.

This morning I saw this National Geographic photo and it made me pause.

Najood Ali Picture, National Geographic Photo of the Day

To which of the three figures do you feel the most drawn? Do you know why?

Here’s my story. I am immediately captivated by the freedom and joy on the face of Nujood Ali, front and center. She is beautiful and energetic. Her story is moving.

Nujood Ali was ten when she fled her abusive, much older husband and took a taxi to the courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen. The girl’s courageous act—and the landmark legal battle that ensued—turned her into an international heroine for women’s rights. Now divorced, she is back home with her family and attending school again.

Then… my eyes drift to the right, down, and I see a familiar face looking back at me. A small, intense child. Serious. Doubtful. Protective. Concerned. A direct gaze, but arms folded in front. I see myself in this small form, my hesitance to play, my guarded nature. “I’m her.” Almost by default. And I know I am projecting. I don’t know this child. But I see myself reflected.

My heart opens to this child and I want to shower her with love and joy. So back to my inner child…

I had a wonderful healer tell me recently that I need to prioritize Fun and Joy in my life. Not just love and joy; FUN and Joy!

What would it take for me to raise my hands above my head, smile, laugh, and dance?

Even as children, we have choices to make about how we are in the world. And as adults, we still play out the patterns we bought into in childhood. What worked for me as a child, the ways of being that helped me survive, aren’t serving me anymore. I did the best I could at the time. And times have changed. Have my choices, patterns, behaviors?

And you? What patterns are you repeating from your childhood? Are you aware?

Today is a day of questions. Simply notice what you notice. No judgement. Getting to know yourself better is full of love.

1 comment… add one
  • Erika Oct 5, 2011, 8:36 pm

    I love this picture/story and your reflection on it. I am inspired and reminded of feelings of freedom and fullness of life.

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