A vicarious experience of my inner child
For the past three and a half months I have been paying attention to how our recently born grand daughter processes her surroundings. I have noticed a simple sequence of behaviors repeating as she is gaining consciousness and self awareness- Sensing, Observing, Sense making and Babbling.
Sensing- From the moment she entered the world she has been sesnsing stimuli from her environment using her five senses. I notice a big difference between how she senses her surroundings from how I do. My ability to sense is often directed and limited by my intentions, whereas Ria’s sensory faculties are more open to sense without intent or a need to make sense of it immediately. I call it open minded 360 degree sensing.
Observing- She is learning to pay attention to the specific qualities, characteristics and behaviors of her environment. I do not see any evidence that the purpose of observation is driven by an intent. Rather, she seems to continually scan the environment to recognize patterns and store them in her subconscious.
Sense making: I notice a distinct difference between my own experience of sense making and her. My sense making is primarily guided by what I know I need and how what I discover or learn might help fulfill my needs. On the other hand she seems to process her surroundings to find answer to three questions foundational to survival:
- Who am I?
- Am I safe? and
- Do I feel loved
Babbling- Her babbling reminds me of a musician tuning her instrument before creating music. Rather than conveying a specific thought she seems to be testing how, through various sounds, she can externalize her feelings and evoke a response from her environment. While babbling she appears to be paying close attention to both- her own capacity to create sounds and through the sounds creating meaning for others. She practices sound making when alone and meaning making when paying attention to our reactions to her sounds. I suspect that while we want to believe that her babbling is a response to our baby talk, she is in fact enjoying manipulating our response by provoking us to ask questions through her babbling. Almost every time she begins to babble before we start engaging her in a conversation.
So why am I spending so much time observing and interpreting my grand daughter’s behavior?
It is because I have a unique opportunity to observe human instincts and behaviors in their purest form before they get tainted by social constructs.
On the first day of foundation year in my design school I was told that I needed to learn to unlearn what schooling had taught me and to reclaim my childlike freshness.
When my daughter was born, I was too involved in being a parent. But today, as a grand parent I can be an ethnographer of a baby’s behavior and cognitive development. I realized that I needed an immersion in the life of a child in order to recognize my own inner child.
My observations and interpretations are echoed in an article, “What is an inner child and what does it know?” by Licensed clinical social worker, trauma specialist, and founder of Integrative Psychotherapy, Esther Goldstein. In this article Goldstein says,
“Your “inner child” is a part of your subconscious that has been picking up messages way before it was able to fully process what was going on (mentally and emotionally). It holds emotions, memories and beliefs from the past as well as hopes and dreams for the future.”
As we grow up we can lose our our purest instincts embodied in our inner child. Our adult beliefs can limit our ability to recognize and harness opportunities in our surroundings if we do not listen to our inner child.
Why is listening to our inner child important? Because we subconsciously carry the emotional memories our inner child has collected since childhood and they affect our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. While a healthy inner child is rich in love, connections, mentally, feeling fulfilled in their sense of meaning and able to tolerate the pains of ups and downs of life, a traumatized inner child, can interfere with our ability to maintain openness, calm and equilibrium when faced with challenges.
I am learning that getting in touch with our inner child can help restore our ability to sense without trying to prematurely make sense. We can also learn to stimulate conversations and draw meaning from it without biasing the outcomes of the conversation with assumptions.
I have learned that a group of individuals who do not recognize their childhood traumas can find it difficult to have an open minded dialogue. Whereas recognizing a traumatized inner child, healing it, re-parenting it and restoring it to her full potential can help us become more empathic and collaborative.
I created a character Beebo in my book, “Finding Your Beebo” to help children establish a dialogue with their inner child. I was surprised that parents have found more value in this book while reading it to their children.
I hope that “Finding Your Beebo” will trigger your interest in reconnecting with and re-parenting your inner child and becoming a more curious, compassionate and creative individual.