“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” --Tom Robbins
All of us have an Inner Child. Yep, you read me right: There’s a part of us that still needs love and good parenting. Learning how to create a strong connection with this aspect of yourself is essential to becoming a Naked Dater. In the second half of this article I will give you a technique that will show you how build this bond, but first let’s look at who this Inner Child is and why it’s so important for you to learn how to communicate with it.
So who is this Inner Child?
“We can bury it, distort it, handicap it, make it sick, but we can’t get rid of it.”
–Recovery of Your Inner Child
In the 60s and 70s, experts Hugh Missildine and Eric Berne introduced the idea of an Inner Child. Nice work guys! Even though most of us like to think of ourselves as mature and capable adults, Missildine and Berne believed there’s a child living in all of us that still needs parenting. But here’s the kicker: Not only do we continue to need parenting, we are actually the ones who need to become our own parents.
I know that sounds strange, but let’s take a minute to explore why becoming your own parent is such a good idea. Most of your current attitudes and beliefs about relationships were formed from observing parent’s and guardian’s relationships. Unfortunately, the love you saw your parent give and receive was probably conditional in nature. In other words, it wasn’t given freely; it came with expectations and strings attached. There was a kind of unspoken agreement: “I’ll give you what you want but only if you’ll give me what I want in return.” When the adults around you didn’t get what they bargained for in their relationships, you might have watched them become angry and punishing to the point of cutting off their love from the people who hurt them. No wonder so many people grow up to become guarded and suspicious of love.
I’d wager a bet that your parents didn’t intentionally teach you bad relationship skills. They gave you the only tools they had to give, the ones they learned from their parents and their parents before them. But not to worry: as a Naked Dater, you are about to learn become the kind of loving parent to yourself that you always needed and wanted. As your own parent, you will be able to build a foundation of safety and trust with your Inner Child that will help you to stop pushing love away and sabotaging your relationships.
To help build this connection, I will show you how to dialogue with your Inner Child. You heard me right: as a Naked Dater, you will have actual conversations with your Inner Kid and start really listening to what it has to say. The child in you knows what it needs, and it will tell you if you pay attention to it. As you build a relationship with your child, you can begin give it the love, guidance, and healthy boundaries it didn’t get as a youngster. Learning to embrace your Inner Child in this way will help you begin to heal issues of intimacy, abandonment, and trust at a core level. Like other Naked Daters, once you begin to resolve these issues, you will find that your heart and mind is more open to giving and receiving love.
Qualities of the Inner Child That Might Have Gotten Lost Along the Way:
Your Inner Child is the emotional part of you, the part that cries, gets sad, and loves to have fun and play. In order for your Inner Child to feel safe enough to come out, it needs to feel loved and accepted. When it doesn’t feel safe, it hides. Below is a list of some of the qualities of the Inner Child that might have gotten lost or hidden when your Inner Child didn’t feel safe.
• A Sense of Wonder: The ability to be awed by life
• Optimism: The ability to feel positive about life
• Innocence: The ability to see the good in life
• Vulnerability: The ability to be open and unguarded
• Emotions: The ability to truly experience your feelings
• Resilience: The ability to let go of disappointments
• Play: The ability to fully enjoy the moment
• Uniqueness: The ability to feel connected with yourself
• Love: The ability to be positive and accept others and yourself unconditionally
The Effect the Wounded Inner Child Can Have on Relationships:
Here are some of the negative ways the Wounded Inner Child can sabotage your relationships when it isn’t getting what it needs from you:
• Offensive Behavior
• Narcissistic Behavior
• Trust Issues
• Magical Thinking (i.e. everything will magically fix itself)
• Intimacy Issues
• Immature Behaviors
• Addictive/Compulsive Behaviors
The Inner Child and Self-Love
We often hear people say, “You have to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else,” but what exactly does this mean? How are you supposed to learn to love yourself? What would that even look like? Here’s the thing: If you’re a Naked Dater, you want to love yourself. The problem is, you might not know how to do that. You might not have learned to talk to yourself in a loving way.
As I already mentioned, we mostly learned from our parents is how to beat up on ourselves. We learned how to be critical and judgmental, and to motivate ourselves through negative reinforcement. We don’t know how to be loving, encouraging, and positive because most of the time, that wasn’t the kind of feedback we got.
The good news is that as a Naked Dater, you can start to reclaim and champion your own wounded Inner Child. You can learn to give your Inner Child the positive, unconditional acceptance it needs to feel loved and whole. When you build this bond of love and trust within yourself, you will be able to love and trust another.