Put Your Inner Child in Time-Out










How to Put Your Inner Child in Time-Out
3 Ways to Retrain Your Brain & Put the Adult in Charge

Do YOU need a “time out”?

We frequently put our children in a “time-out” to give them time to cool down. The goal is to have them think more rationally and take control of their actions – and reactions. But how many times do we, as parents, act as rationally as we should? Particularly in this stressful holiday season, perhaps we need to give our own “inner children” a time-out.

The “inner child” is a concept in popular psychology that identifies the childlike aspect in all of us. This often hidden side includes what we learned and experienced as children. For most of us, the inner child stays buried beneath daily duties and expectations. The holiday season is when it surfaces, both the good and bad sides, like in the childlike joy we have when opening presents and in the sadness we feel when we don’t get invited to the party.

Steven Jay Fogel, (www.StevenJayFogel.com) author of the book Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, says that being aware of our inner child can help us change our attitude and take control of our emotions, rather than continuing the habit of reacting to our surroundings.

“Most of us are unaware that elements of our inner child’s development are constantly tugging at us, and we don’t have a clue that it’s happening,” says Fogel, a longtime student of human behavior and development. “That is our inner child responding to the emotional pain we experienced and interpreted with the limited understanding we had when we were very young. It continues to steer our reactions and behavior as adults, often in inappropriate ways.”

Here are some ways that Fogel suggests for our adult brain can take command of the inner child.

  • Recognize the elements of your self identity that keep you trapped.Our identity – how we want the world to see us – develops, in part, as a response to avoiding pain. Our identity may change from one situation to another (in the same way a chameleon changes its body color to match its surroundings) as we slip on the persona we believe is expected in a particular environment or social setting. This automatic behavior is the opposite of making mindful choices, and it robs us of the joy of living in the moment and inhibits spontaneity.
  • Be aware of when you’re acting.Many of us live our lives as though we’re playing parts in various movies, navigating different storylines every day. You may be the righteous Clint Eastwood manager at work and then shift into the town drunk during happy hour, and later the loving husband and father during brunch the following weekend morning. When you’re playing these roles, you’re not in the present.
  • Be skeptical of what the voice in your head may tell you.It’s not easy to recognize and quiet the mental chatter associated with the different roles we play. We’ve become so accustomed to the voice in our head, that we don’t realize its messages are programmed – and not necessarily the truth. Is your voice telling you to feel guilty? Ashamed? Angry? Is that rational? If not, it may be your inner child acting out of a childlike fear.

“Instead of simply responding to what we’re hardwired to think and react, we can hear, in mindful repose, those promptings as simply chatter,” says Fogel. “When you’re mindful, the inner child’s chatter can be seen for what it is, and you will be free to take a more mature direction in your day-to-day living.”

Here are some additional ways to embrace and release your inner child from a list on WikiHow :

  • Do the things you loved as a kid such as playing on the swings or watching cartoons.
  • Stop obsessing over small things, let go of worries and be more carefree.
  • Don’t judge your feelings, just feel what you feel without being guilty.
  • Find the fun in daily chores: wrap warm clothes around you when they come out of the dryer, dance to music as you dust, throw snowballs when you shovel.

The more we embrace the fun and joyful side of our inner child, the more we’ll relate to our own children and build stronger bonds with them.