Our inner child is who we were before we tried to fit in with other people’s expectations.
I am a big fan of The Psychology of Your 20’s podcast by Jemma Sbeg, a psychology graduate living in Sydney, Australia. In one of her recent episodes, she speaks about healing our inner child — a topic that is resurfacing in our culture more widely than ever before. After all, connecting with our inner child is a way to get in touch with our younger self and heal what we could not back then.
After listening to the episode, I reflected on my own relationship with my child self. I pondered:
How is Little Jill doing? Is she proud of me? Am I honoring what she loved to do? Or am I forgetting about her and trying to be what I “think” I should be? Are my inner child’s introverted gifts being practiced?
When we ignore our inner child, we reject the parts of ourselves that represent our core identity and innate strengths. Our child self is who we were before we were prone to overthink about how we could fit in with society’s (and other’s) expectations — or at least what we perceived those expectations to be.
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Neglecting Your Introvert Inner Child in Order to Conform With Society
I believe that many introverts, who naturally crave environments with low stimulation, may neglect their inner child and conform to what they perceive to be normal and accepted. For instance, many of us have had to “fake it till we make it,” taking jobs where we act more extroverted than we’d like to act. Reconnecting with our inner child offers us clues as to what we are meant to do to lead fulfilling lives.
Contrary to popular belief, we can reconnect with our inner child at any time, regardless of age. Start by taking 15 minutes a day to playfully engage in a hobby you once enjoyed instead of doing other time-sucking things, like endlessly scrolling social media. With that being said, keep on reading if you are interested in doing the deeper work of unpacking how you can live out your inner child’s gifts — which are your gifts — as a part- or full-time job.
The pathway to living out your inner child is actually rather simple. I would even go as far to say that it is fun. The overflowing energy that we had as a kid, when we were excited to throw our school bag on the ground and run outside — even after what we would now call a “long day” — is the life-affirming energy that we can reconnect with now. Considering how easily overstimulated introverts become in the busy environments of today’s world, remembering our inner child can recharge us, bringing much-needed calm and peace into our lives, as well.
Here are two steps for reflecting on how you can reconnect with your inner child.
2 Ways to Reconnect With Your Inner Child as an Introvert
1. Think about what you were drawn toward as a child.
Jot down the activities that you were drawn to when you were alone and/or with others as a child. What gifts do these interests represent?
My self-assessment of things I enjoyed on my own would look like:
- I loved to listen to music and sing. I would give family members “concerts” and dive deep into lyrics and information on artists. This represents music and playing an instrument as a gift.
- I loved to write in my journal. I wrote made-up stories, processed my feelings (as is common for us introverts), and reflected on humanitarian issues. This represents writing as a gift.
- I loved to push myself athletically in individual sports (swimming, running, biking). This represents athletics as a gift.
And when with others:
- I taught my stuffed animals academic lessons (because when you’re eight years old, it’s hard to find friends who want to do school outside of school). Overall I was a well-rounded student who loved to learn. This represents teaching as a gift.
- I was the leader friend who came up with things for the neighborhood kids to do. Introverts make some of the best leaders, and this represents leadership as a gift.
- Due to my excellent listening skills, I was the therapist friend who gave others advice and suggested solutions to their problems. This represents psychology/spirituality as gifts.
If your list feels short, remind yourself that what you are interested in is not what you are perfect at. It is what you tapped into or felt pulled toward, not how “successful” you were with it.
As easy as this exercise was, you now know your inner child’s potential. So… how are you going to integrate your inner child’s introverted gifts into your life?
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
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2. Ask yourself some introspective questions about your aforementioned responses.
After you have completed the above exercise, do a deep dive into the questions below.
How can you do what you love more often? Based on the list of interests you generated, which ones speak to you the most right now? It may not be all of them. Or, you may want to do all of them at once. In truth, both of these options are possibilities for you, especially if you consider that you can combine two or three gifts within one pursuit.
For example, in my case, I could choose to write about music and psychology/spirituality in the evenings; that’s 3 of 6. I could be a part-time athletic coach (that’s 5 of 6) or a part-time teacher — that’s all of them in a day, five days a week, right there.
Brainstorm and rearrange your pieces of the puzzle until you see a vision that you want. And, of course, ground this vision in the reality of the next question.
How can you make money doing what you love? When our adult mind is not considering our inner child, we often make, and spend, more money than we actually need to. Ironically we make money doing what we dislike to pay the bills (and then overspend because we are stressed).
It helps to ask yourself these questions:
- How much money do you actually need to live contentedly?
- Are you willing to make financial sacrifices in the short-term, developing a hobby without being paid at first so that you can get paid for it in the long-term? (This was the case for me, and I can say with confidence that I feel better about my life because of it. Believing in your capacity to experience “short-term pain for long-term gain” may well be the best option for the growth of your future self. You can accomplish your goals — the “introvert way” — if you put your mind to it!
- Lastly, how do you best thrive? Consider whether you thrive the most when you are alone or surrounded by others.
How introverted or extroverted are you? Every introvert will have a different answer to this question. How many hours a day can you realistically handle being around people? Does social interaction energize and inspire you, or is there only a certain amount of time that this is the case before your inner world beckons?
For instance, it may not make sense to be a full-time teacher if you are highly introverted and find yourself more energized from writing or making music. What passions speak “full-time” to you, and what passions speak “part-time” to you, particularly when it comes to your social battery?
Allow Yourself to Be Who You Were as a Child — Only, as an Adult
To heal our inner child is to allow ourselves to be who we were when we were younger as adults. It is the tragedy of our life to separate our gifts from what we actually do, especially if we happen to be an introvert who learned to suppress our gifts in order to conform. I like to think of it this way: If we are not living our dreams, then what are we living? And what better way to remember our dreams than to remember the dreams we were born with.
With all this being said, Harry Potter’s Dumbledore’s wise words come to mind here: “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” When we rekindle the dreams of our inner child, we need to make even the smallest effort to live them out so that we do not limit our potential. Make little you proud.
Canoeing with the Seasons is a poetic, introspective exploration of self-growth. You can find it at enablingpotential.ca/shop.
You might like:
- Why Introverts Need to Pursue Hobbies Outside of Work
- 3 Introvert Quirks That Seem Rude – But Aren’t Meant to Be
- There Are 3 Types of Sensitivity. Which One(s) Are You?
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