A long time ago (longer for some of us than others), we were all children under the responsibility of our caretakers. Throughout adolescence, we are conditioned (by ourselves, but also the world around us) to draw a line in the sand between our forming adult personas, and the child we were in our youth, even if that meant letting go of dreams or passions that brought us meaning and joy. As we grow older, it becomes easier and easier to abandon the child that lives inside our psyche, but what else are we supposed to do? How can you be your own caretaker?
Approach failure with a student’s mindset.
If we only did the things we were already good at, we would only be good at doing nothing whatsoever. You don’t have to be a master at something for it to be worthwhile. You don’t even have to be good at it. If you approach new experiences with the mindset of a beginner, failure can actually become a desirable outcome. The most valuable lessons come from the most obvious mistakes, but you will only have the opportunity to learn them if you are comfortable with the necessity of failure. We can either become students of failure, as children do naturally, or shackle ourselves with shame and insecurity.
Draw something simple.
Here at Integrative Counsel, art therapy is kind of a big deal. By expressing yourself visually through art, you’re lighting up more quadrants of your brain than if you just tried to put it into words. So what do you have to lose? Make yourself a little doodle, like the kind you’d see scribbled in a composition book. It doesn’t need to be detailed, it just has to be fun to draw.
Play a game instead of making small talk.
As an adult, you might not immediately see the importance of play, but your inner child does. It might seem like an immature waste of time to be playing two truths and a lie with an acquaintance or co-worker, but imbuing your social interactions with a sense of fun and wonder is a pursuit more than worthy of your precious time. By opening up your sense of joy and pleasure to the world around you, you are granting your inner child a sense of safety by giving them a free space to play and be happy.
Break a sweat.
As children, we have little to no understanding of rest, sleep, or energy, and as a result, children act like manic goblins with infinite stores of potential energy right up until the very moment that they pass out at night. Believe it or not, there’s a tremendous lesson to be learned from this component of our childhoods: we were meant to tire ourselves out. It is astounding how much going to bed drop dead tired can do for you.
Put yourself in touch with nature.
A child doesn’t need to be told why it’s important to climb a tree. Neither does your inner child. But you very well might. If you listen intently to your inner child, you might hear something about having fun or admiring beauty, but there’s more to it than even that. By seeking out a more intimate relationship with nature, and the world outside, we serve the primal needs of our ancient brain. Even cavemen needed to leave the cave and feel the sun on their skin to feel alive. From nature we came, and to nature we return. By reaching out and touching nature, we show ourselves that the distinction between us and nature is completely arbitrary. By rejoining nature, we can admire the beauty in the world around us, and begin to appreciate the grand well of beauty that exists within ourselves.
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Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.