Awaken the Inner Child

Awaken the inner child – Introduction

Is being grown up proving to be a stumbling block to your success? Has your imagination and belief been stifled by maturity and adulthood?

Brian Aldiss painted a bleak, but awakening picture of adulthood with the words: “When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names of hell. That is why we dread children, even if we love them; they show us the state of our decay.”

Awaken the inner child – being “grown up” can be bad

It’s strange to think that being mature and grown up can be a liability rather than an asset. But it can. When you are a child the world is full of possibilities. There is so much you can do and so much you can be. It seems as though anything is possible. One of the hardest things to do in life is to rekindle the possibilities and hope of our childhood. For those who want to achieve greatness this is important because, as Mencius observed, “The great man is he who does not lose his child's-heart.”

Watch any child play and you will see how much they believe in themselves and what they are doing. When a child is playing “doctor” or “teacher” they are totally absorbed in that role. At that time there is very little you can do to convince them that they are not doctors or teachers. They behave like they are, they will dress like they are and, given a chance, will give you an injection with utter conviction that they know what they are doing.

This role-playing and ability to become something, no matter how briefly, is an essential part of a child’s development. Strangely, this power of imagination is something we start to ignore and lose as we grow older. It is not so much that the ability itself is lost, but rather that we do not nurture it and we do not trust it.

Awaken the inner child – use your imagination

In order to function in our present world we are taught to make sense of things and be rational. This can get in the way of our progress because imagination is one of the greatest abilities you can have at your disposal in the pursuit of your dreams. Children clearly have an advantage in this area as is evident in the words of Sam Levenson when he said “One of the virtues of being very young is that you don't let the facts get in the way of your imagination.”

One of the most renowned and imaginative artists that ever lived, Pablo Picasso, knew this innate ability when he commented that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” As a child you have all the possibilities of life before you. You can become anything and do anything you want.

But as you grow up every decision you make seems to narrow your possibilities more and more. When you choose one career path it means you have given up the thousands of other paths you could have taken. But growing up does not necessarily have to mean having less choice and fewer possibilities for your life. You can be grown up and still treasure, nurture and trust in that childlike ability to dream of the possibilities and explore life.

Awaken the inner child – through a child’s eyes

You should learn to look at life through the eyes of a child. Rachel Carson observed that “A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.”

As you grow up you learn from experience, both yours and others, as well as from what you are taught. This learning process gives you your perspective and assumptions in life and, unfortunately, these perspectives and assumptions are not always correct. Most of the time they are simply the most commonly held view. But just because something is commonly accepted does not mean it is correct.

Awaken the inner child – practical application

So what does it mean to look at life through the eyes of a child? Firstly it means stripping yourself of your assumptions and things you think you know and take for granted. You should approach life with a fresh mind and curiosity. Explore the possibilities in everything around you.

Whenever you are faced with a situation you think is impossible or something you think you cannot do stop and ask yourself “why not.” If you keep asking this question you will find that most of the reasons you give as to why you cannot do things are nothing but excuses. If you really want to do something all those excuses are just challenges you have to deal with along the way.

Secondly, you must learn to live in the present. Dream of the future and what it holds for you, but work on it today. Most importantly, enjoy your success and life today. Jean de la Bruyere said “Children have neither past nor future; they enjoy the present, which very few of us do.” The ability to live in and fully enjoy the present is a habit every dreamer would do well to retain.

Awaken the inner child – be innocent

Thirdly, have a child-like innocence. Approach life with faith, love, belief in yourself and others, optimism, enthusiasm, excitement and hope every single day. The world may be full of hardship and evil, but your world can be bright and everything in it can be perfect. You can choose to see it that way, as most children do. Rekindle the child-like power of dreaming and imagination in your life. Your imagination should be limitless and unrestricted by the realities of life. You should be free to dream and to let your imagination be your guide. Everything is possible. Nothing is too hard or unrealistic.

Awaken the inner child – conclusion

It is never too late to be a child again. It just takes a little effort to rekindle that innocence. So, in the words of Gaston Bachelard, “like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.” Rekindle that fire in your life. Don’t let the child in you die.

I hope you will be able to say, as Joseph Heller did: “When I grow up I want to be a little boy.”

You are all you can be. Go on and be it.

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