Imagine a baby. Imagine that you are in a room with this baby, and you’re thinking, “oh, it’s so cute,” and you smile in awe because here’s this precious little thing, and of course you’re quiet because it’s sleeping, and thoughts cross your mind about how gentle you have to be with babies in general, and how they smell good, and as you continue thinking about the miracle of life that it is to make a human being, you think, “Wow…Babies are amazing.” Then you take a breath. Indeed, babies remind us of what we once were, that we too needed love & attention, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and encouragement (along with diapers, food, shelter, and toys, among other things). Give yourself a moment to get a sense that each of us is the baby who became a child, teenager, and adult.
Like children, we as adults generally like order and having things go our way. When things don’t go our way or when we resist, we are invited to make a choice. The inner child that lives within me looks for my attention, and if I fail to pay attention, that inner child throws a tantrum and I notice my heart closing, my attitude slacking. I experience this as being hard on myself, thinking that I’m not doing enough in life, thinking that I should be doing something else, thinking others are doing better than me, and the list of self-denigration goes on. My inner child screams, “I don’t HAVE to do anything! You can’t MAKE me do anything! You suck!” I respond with, “Who is this impossible spoiled brat yelling inside my head?”
On my spiritual path I have to be willing to forgive, and willing to ruthlessly love myself. It is only when I take the time to acknowledge this inner child that my attitude improves, because this little girl in me IS me—the me that I’ve ignored, judged, criticized, not given sweet compliments to, not let go outside and play. It is the invitation for me to forgive myself for all the “stinkin’ thinkin’” of the past. When I take a step back and look how I’ve been treating myself, I wonder, “How could I say these things to such a sweet girl? How could I be so hard on this beautiful child?” I offer myself the lesson of forgiveness again and again. It is time for me to take baby steps toward a more loving, joyful atmosphere for my Little Mari Anne to play in. Like the precious baby, our own inner child needs nurturing, loving support, and sweet words of kindness. I invite you to take time to entertain the idea that there is a little girl or little boy inside, wanting to play again. Look inside with child-like curiosity, take a baby step, and begin again.