As adults, we often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We’re focused on our careers, paying bills and taking care of others. It’s easy to lose touch with our inner child – that essential part of ourselves that is naturally joyful, playful and carefree.
But rediscovering and nurturing our inner child can play an important role in our overall happiness. Spiritual teachings suggest we reconnect to who we really are when we reconnect with this part of ourselves.
In this guide, we’ll define the concept of inner child, and explore five ways we can nurture our inner child with the ultimate goal of feeling more fulfilled in our lives.
What Is an Inner Child?
The term ‘inner child’ refers to your childhood self, the pure essence of who you were when you were a child, that carries on existing in you and influencing your life throughout adulthood.
In a spiritual teaching popularized by 20th-century mystic George Gurdjieff, says the inner child is actually considered our embryonic true Self, unfiltered and raw, containing our inherent likes, dislikes, inclinations and personality.
“Essence (inner child) is the truth in man.” – George Gurdjieff
If you try to remember how you experienced life as a child, the answer will most likely be joyful, carefree and in tune with the present moment.
As the worries of adult life grew bigger and gained momentum, this essential inner child got squashed whenever it tried to peek its head. That’s why it’s important to reconnect with our inner child and nurture it, so that as adults we can experience the same joy and wonder about life that we did when we were children.
3 Major Benefits of Nurturing Your Inner Child:
Nurturing your inner child can have many positive effects in your life, including:
- Increased Contentment: The inner child doesn’t fret about their shortcomings or worry about how other people see them; they experience life simply and joyfully. By allowing our inner child to come to the forefront of our awareness and experiencing life through her eyes more often, we become more content with our lives
- Increased Creativity: By reconnecting with the playful part of ourselves we can tap into an ability to be creative that we may have lost as we grew older
- Improved Relationships: Nurturing our inner child can also improve our relationships with others. When we’re able to let go of protecting our self-image and, like a child, become fully present in a conversation with another human being, we become more attentive to their needs. This can help us to form deeper, more meaningful connections with the people in our lives
5 Simple Ways to Nurture Your Inner Child:
The following methods are not sophisticated, quite the opposite. They are things we did naturally when we were children. Their purpose is to bring our inner child to the forefront of our awareness for short periods of time, which when repeated will help it grow and manifest in other areas of our lives too.
1. Engage in Playful Activities
As adults, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be serious and responsible all the time. It’s important to remember it’s okay to let loose and have fun every now and then. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
One way to nurture your inner child is to engage in the playful activities you enjoyed as a child, with an emphasis on you, because they are different for different people.
Some of us tended more toward moving-oriented activities, such as playing sports or playing video games. Others gravitated more toward the creative arts – singing, painting, dancing. Yet others had a particular enjoyment of the process of creation through baking or cooking.
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Chances are you’ll enjoy all of these, as most children do, but you’ll get the most nourishment out of those you particularly enjoyed doing.
Try to remember what those activities were, and schedule one or two of them into your week. You will be intentionally creating opportunities for your inner child to come out and get nourishment.
2. Take in Fine Emotional ‘Foods’
Our inner child is highly connected with our emotions. By feeding our emotional selves, we directly feed our inner child. And similarly to healthy food and junk food for our body, there is healthy and junk ‘food’ for our emotions.
We already mentioned two sources of nutritious emotional food – spending time in nature, and playing with children or pets. You can’t deny that either one of these activities can recharge you emotionally.
The third type of activity that can nurture your emotions is art.
In today’s technologically advanced world, we have replaced activities like going to the theater to enjoy a play or going to the philharmonic orchestra to enjoy a concert, with activities like watching series on Netflix or reels on TikTok.
Yet a theatrical play or an orchestra concert can provide much richer emotional nourishment for our inner child than Netflix and TikTok. This is not to say Netflix or TikTok are bad, just that there are finer emotional foods out there for you to enjoy.
As an experiment, try going to a theater play or orchestra concert in your city one evening, and try to observe your emotional state before and after the show.
Chances are you’ll leave full of positive emotions and inspiration that will carry over to the next day.
3. Spend Time in Nature
Children love to play outside and explore nature.
Spending time in nature is a great way to reconnect with your inner child and tap into a sense of wonder and curiosity. Nature provides a sensory experience that can engage all of our senses and help us to feel more alive and present in the moment.
Whether it’s forest bathing, lounging in a park or just taking a walk around your neighborhood, spending time in nature can provide a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It can also provide a sense of peace and tranquility that can help to reduce stress and improve our overall well-being.
In addition to its stress-reducing benefits, spending time in nature can also have a positive impact on our mental health. Research has shown that nature has a calming effect on the mind and can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
So, next time you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a break and head outside. Whether it’s for a few minutes or a few hours, spending time in nature can improve your overall well-being.
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4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present moment and accepting it without judgment. It’s a great way to quiet the constant chatter of our thoughts and tap into our inner child for whom the present moment is the permanent abode.
When we’re able to access the present moment, the smallest things in life become a source of joy, such as the feel of the sun on our faces or the sound of birds chirping.
Practicing mindfulness can also help to improve our overall well-being by reducing stress, improving focus and increasing feelings of happiness and contentment.
To practice mindfulness, try taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Pay attention to the sensation of the air entering and leaving your body, let go of any thoughts or worries that may be plaguing your mind, and turn your attention outward toward the present moment.
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5. Spend Time With Children and Pets
Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “The soul is healed by being with children.”
If you have children, chances are you already know that playing with them or even simply being with them can put you in a lighter mood (when they’re not being little devils).
When you see a child’s beaming face, innocence, and at times cheekiness, it’s impossible not to soften up and take life less seriously yourself.
Their natural tendency to play will also inevitably draw you in, and you may find yourself instantly transported from worrying about work to being fully immersed in joyful play with your son or daughter.
Pets can have a similar effect. They give us unconditional companionship and affection, they love to play, and they love taking walks in nature – all great activities for nurturing our inner child.
If you have children or pets, spending time and playing with them is a great and easy way to connect to your inner child.
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Integrating Inner Child Activities Into Your Day-To-Day Life
We know what we need to do, now how do we do it?
In the beginning, try to do at least one of these inner child activities each day. The goal should be developing your ability to access your inner child and get a taste of how it feels when you’re able to bring it forward.
You should feel the benefits of this immediately. It may not make a big difference on the scale of an entire day, but you’ll definitely feel better during and shortly after the activity. This will show you that it works and motivate you to keep going.
Now, we don’t want access to our inner child to be limited only to when we do these activities, but also (and more importantly) to day-to-day moments of our lives when we tend to get swallowed by the usual momentum of life.
The next step is to try and bring the inner child forward intentionally during daily routine activities such as getting ready for work, brushing your teeth or taking a shower. These are easy moments to practice before moving on to more challenging moments like the workplace, interacting with your spouse, etc.
When you manage to do this successfully, activities that used to be boring and unpleasant will become engaging and enjoyable. As you train yourself to bring your inner child forward in more and more moments of your day, and experience life through its eyes, your general outlook on life will also change in a positive way.
Go ahead, let your inner child out to play, and start experiencing life with wonder again!