I’ve been doing inner child work for years. I’ve learned so much from long encounters, from hours of what Jung termed active imagination, from weeks of inner focus, as I’ve attended to my spirit. I sometimes feel that it’s like driving a car; sometimes I’m aware that I’m doing it, alert and conscious of everything I pass along the way, at other times I arrive at my destination wondering just how I got there.
I do inner child work especially when confronted with a dilemma or when conflicts arise. I know that it’s imperative that I constantly check in with my inner child and see how she’s doing. Although my personal challenges are, for the most part, clearly defined now, I also know that sometimes they are not the issues that need attention but that something else is calling to me, some deeper more profound need is making itself known.
I have a dilemma. How do I solve it? I ask for guidance. I wait for an answer. Meanwhile I have my own agenda. For the time being my personal agenda rules. It takes over. It’s all I can think about: how to set it in motion, how to contrive to make it happen, how to make it meaningful. I can’t get away from it. As I allow it to assert itself, it begins to dominate not only my thinking but my actions as well. This feels like part of the process I must go through, but deep inside I feel restless. Something else is stirring in me, raising a protest, asking me if this is really what I intend to do. I push it away.
“No,” I say, “I want it to happen my way. I want to be in control. I want to set up my life in such a manner that I can determine not only the process but the outcome as well.”
“Sorry,” I hear. “You are not going to be granted that wish today. Today you are going to have to struggle and eventually you are going to have to let go.”
“No, I don’t want to. I want things to work out my way!”
As this tug-of-war goes on, I know, deep inside, that I must stop playing this game. From experience, I know that the sooner I acquiesce to a process that is already in progress, already laid out for me, the better things will unfold. This is how I resolve my dilemma: I acquiesce to the process, but it takes deep work to get to this place of acquiescence.
I know I must dissect my personal agenda and discover why I am so attached to it. I must face the fact that I may be trying to hold onto old ideas, old agendas, and old comforts that no longer serve me. I must face that even though I may want those things, they are not good for me; they no longer serve who I am becoming, who I have the potential to become, and whom I need to become to evolve.
Once I’ve studied my personal agenda, the next step is to turn inward. I must get quiet in order to do this. I must let myself have a few moments of meditation or simply sit quietly and comfortably. I must ask myself: What is really going on here? What am I missing? Am I just reluctant, avoidant, affronted? Am I being shown something I must embrace; or the opposite, that this is something I must refuse?
Sitting in calmness allows the voice of our inner child to be heard. If we listen carefully we will hear truths spoken that we may not have wanted to hear before, that we may not have been ready to hear until now. If we allow ourselves to become a frightened child again, knowing that we are facing changes that we don’t want to happen while we also remain our adult selves, we may reach a new level of understanding about how we tend to function on a normal basis.
We all have a needy, wounded child inside us. No matter how much inner work we do that child will always be present, suggesting deeper issues that need attention. Its needs are endless, ancient needs. Eventually we learn that they stretch far back, into eons, into past lives full of similar needs left unresolved.
As we do inner child work, our spirit will repeatedly guide us in how to sit alongside our child self, perhaps in discomfort at first, but later in full acceptance as we face the ancient knowing child self and ask it to tell us what comes next. What must I face this time? Where are you taking me?
We must be prepared to face our fears. We must accept that our inner child self of this lifetime is frightened of change. We must accept that our adult self of this lifetime is afraid of change too. Both parts of us must constantly face the truth that change is challenging us to face our fears and conquer them with awareness.
Whenever I sit in calmness with my adult self and my frightened child self, I know that there is something else beneath the fears that I must also face. I must go even deeper. I must reach down to that far more evolved ancient child self, the one who has already lived these life challenges before. This is the knowing self that constantly challenges me to go beyond my present self. This is the place where I will gain clarity on what to do to resolve my dilemma.
Clarity often comes in calmness, delivering a direct blow. Much like getting hit over the head, it strikes quickly and with utter clarity. When we are ready we are able to accept it and immediately act upon it. If we are not ready it will remain churning inside us until we are ready.
When our world is challenging us, even collapsing on us, our deepest dilemma is often in learning how to acquiesce, to let go, to not fight as we have been taught, but to let the process guide us. Often we may find the deeper meaning inside, rather than in constantly looking for reason and answer outside. Sometimes we just can’t have things our way.
There is so much more to doing inner child work. As we work with what our inner child presents, going deeper and deeper, we get to know just who that child is, and just who we are and why. Eventually, we all arrive at that place where the ancient child self speaks. Often the sound of that ancient child’s voice may be distant and difficult to decipher, but if we let our personal agenda go, for even a second, we may be able to accept the truth it brings us. Sometimes just a hint of something different, a deep inner knowing, may waft up and offer us just enough to help us along, to make a decision that will indeed set us on a new path.
The inner world is vast, bigger than the outer world. Jung once noted that once we do inner work we will no longer be able to ready novels, because nothing can compare to what we have already encountered inside the vastness of the self. I have found this to be true. I personally can no longer read a novel. I am quickly bored, knowing that inside the self reside all the mysteries and horror stories that I once enjoyed reading, the adventures and relationships I loved to tap into, other people’s lives I’d turn to. All of those things, and more, reside inside us, in the vastness of our inner world, just waiting to be tapped into.
As we let ourselves be guided through the terrors inside us, we arrive at precipice after precipice. And each time we stand on the brink of change we know that we must take the leap into the abyss that yawns before us, if we are to keep evolving. That is where our riches lie, where our thrills await us, where our adversaries lurk, where our beauties hide, and where our spirits will greet us.
Going ever more deeply inward, we soon discover that our outer world is less threatening, less frightening, less terrifying, for we discover that it cannot present us with anything as frightening as we have already faced within. This is what Jung learned and this is what we also may learn as we continue our inner child work.
Thank you for reading, and may you all enjoy the adventure of a lifetime, inside the self.