Image by puroticorico
We carry our childhood with us. Often we focus on the wounds that we have left over from then. This is probably because it is mostly therapists who write about this kind of thing and they tend to see wounded people. For most of us our childhood also contains lots of good stuff and for almost everyone it contains some good stuff.
In some ways our society seems dedicated to eradicating childhood. Children are put into routinised situations where they are meant to be doing what is good for them – having fun is meant to be educational. There are few places where adults get to be silly or childlike (and so we get the explosive growth of laughter clubs). Work is meant to be serious and dedicated to productivity – no socialising or fun permitted. People are meant to be relentlessly adult – intelligent, efficient, disciplined, dedicated – and oh so dull!
A particularly nasty manifestation of our prejudice against childhood is in our intimate relationships. Couples are told that relationships (especially intimate relationships) are meant to be fulfilling, that they should have good communication, be organised in ways that work and so on. I want to say that I agree 100% with all this advice. And yet . . . it doesn’t sound like much fun is being had, does it?! Imagine someone saying something like: I want to spend the rest of my life with you (or even the next few years) so that we can communicate well. Where’s the delight, the pleasure – even the space to just hang out and be a bit silly?
I think we need the time and space in our lives to get in touch with and express the childlike part of ourselves.
Getting in touch.
Everyone had a different childhood. So the only way to know about the childlike part of you is to recall your own: the stuff you did just for fun – p,laying in the sand at the beach, drawing, singing, sport, making stuff, performing, whatever it was for you. Perhaps your fun was had outside or, like me, mostly at home. To have the best fun you may have needed others or, like me, been mostly solitary.
Remember as many times as you can where you were just doing what you liked or were absorbed in something. As you recall these times you’ll gradually get a sense of the childlike part of yourself.
Playtime! (Expressing our Childlike Self)
As you have a better sense of your childlike self you will probably feel a need to do different things. You may need to find a time and space where you can be alone to start with. People may not be used to seeing the childlike part of you and this may need protecting from comments that could be made, or even from just feeling watched. So a private space may help.
You may keep your playtime private forever. Or you may eventually want to invite others to play too. Whichever you choose your life will alter a little. Having a sense of this part of ourselves alters how we relate to others. I think there are at least three benefits, that we get in our relationships, from getting in touch with our childlike self.
- It will probably bring a sense of freshness and lightness – we will ‘lighten up’.
- It can also help us to be more focused and attentive – to just be lost in what we are doing.
- Eventually it may bring a new closeness in our relationships – if we find that others are respectful and welcoming enough we will gradually ‘let our guard down’ and allow ourselves to be closer to others and let them closer to us.
What are the things you do for the childlike part of you? Let me know in the comments.
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