Spring is a time of new beginnings. How many of us wish we could go back and change the past? The degree of dysfunction or pain varies from family to family but I believe we can all benefit from giving ourselves the gift of growing up again. This is not as easy as it seems. In an effort to right childhood wrongs, many of us can fall into a few unhelpful traps. If we felt neglected or a low priority growing up, we can run the risk of overindulging our own children or putting all of our energy and attention into external relationships. Unfortunately this over focus on others does not fill the void of our own unfulfilled desires and lack of self-worth. In fact, I’ve seen this lead to a growing inner conflict between guilt and resentment. As we continually neglect ourselves, we can inevitably push our children into pursuing things based on our dreams rather than their own passions. You know the parents in the stands that seem more invested in the game or activity than the children. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we are seeing a rise in anxiety and panic disorders among children and young adults, as their own internal GPS is being activated, telling them to turn left when mom or dad is forcing them to turn right. We can also find ourselves filled with envy and insecurity rather than joy at the success of another which limits our ability to form and keep deep connections. All the while our own cup continues to run dry, putting us at risk of burn out and depression.
Deciding that no one, not even our parents, get to define our worth is a critical first step in growing up again. Then go deep, stick with your feelings, allow yourself to grieve what you didn’t get. It is often within these healing crises that real change can start to happen. Send loving kindness to those younger parts of yourself. Sometimes a validating letter can do wonders for our healing. Therapy can help you on this journey, as can journaling and people you can be authentic and vulnerable with.
Pay attention to what feels good, what excites or energizes you. What are you passionate about? Hold on to these simple truths; we are all destined for greatness. We all have a responsibility to share our gifts and talents with the world. At some point, as trauma specialist Natalie Zlodre reminded me, we need to help our clients stop reliving the past and make a choice to focus our energy and attention on having the future we desire. Jack Kornfield teaches life is 10, 000 joys and 10, 000 sorrows. So if you had an especially rough childhood or experienced past traumas, it is your turn to feel the joy life has to offer. I’m not saying it will be easy at first, there are years of conditioning that hold us back from living the life we deserve. Use affirmations and mindful breathing to quiet your inner critic and fear. Find something, anything that brings you joy; then soak it up, savour this experience of loving and nurturing yourself and watch your creativity and capacity for compassion flourish. Oh and that guilt factor that will undoubtedly rear his ugly head, put it in its place by reminding yourself that happiness is contagious. When you are truly happy, everyone benefits.
I highly recommend Clarke and Dawson’s excellent book from which I borrowed this blog title.
Start your journey at one of our walk-in counselling clinic sessions held Thursdays 1-7:00 pm. You are worth it!