© By Shiloh Moore
Published on ‘Authenticity Today’ Website:
If you listen to your self talk, do you find you treat yourself kindly? Or do you find you say things to yourself that you would never dare say to or about another person? Or to a child you loved?
Coming from a Christian upbringing, I was encouraged to love my neighbour as I love myself. Loving my neighbour came easily to me, but here’s the catch: deep within I struggled to love my self. I talked harshly to myself in a way I never would about another person, let alone one I loved.
A friend suggested an exercise, to talk to your ‘inner child’ and learn to speak to yourself with the love and patience you would speak to her. She suggested this:
• Write a conversation between you now, and your self at a specific young age (your inner child). You may choose to do the exercise again with your inner child at different significant ages.
• As you write the conversation, let your inner child write with a pen in your non-dominant hand (ie Left hand for Right handed people, or the reverse). Try to lose judgment of how messy you write, and be patient with her. Write your responses with your dominant hand.
• Talk to her kindly, like you would talk to a child you love. Ask her how is she feeling? How does she feel when you talk to yourself like you do? Does she feel nurtured or abandoned? Does she have anything she wants to say to you? Does she have words to encourage you about yourself today? Does she feel you are living the life she once dreamed you would lead? How does she feel about how you are living your life now? Is there anything she would change? Don’t think hard, write down the first words that enter your head. Delve as deeply as you dare and go gently. Many people find their inner child is hurting, so be kind, and give her a voice. Listen to what she has to say. Be patient and cry if you need to.
• Once you are finished say thank you to your child for talking with you. Ask her to visit again.
• To encourage your inner child you may like to draw or paint from her perspective, using your non-dominant hand. Draw whatever comes, whatever she’d like to say or do. What she dreams of being. If you’d prefer, play the piano or guitar with your non-dominant hand. Ask if she’d like to sing? Respond instinctually and let whatever comes, flow.
The first time I did this exercise I felt quite confronted. I was surprised at how differently I talked to my inner child compared to how I talk to my adult self. She spoke so gently to me now, and she encouraged me and loved me so innocently. I was amazed at how she hurt from her image of her self at that specific age. Now, looking back, I saw an amazing, strong, loving, gentle, struggling soul who needed to be loved. How could I talk to her harshly?
Then I realised something big. This girl is me. She is within me now. The way I talk to myself now is how I treat her. And she needs love.
This changed my thinking. It took time, but whenever I found myself talking harshly to myself I remembered this exercise and asked myself: Would you dare talk this way about someone else, or to a child you loved, or to your inner child? If the answer was no, I would try to stop talking to my self this way.
I went from being my only enemy, to my only ‘lifelong friend’. I now talk to myself gentler and I truly love the girl inside me. She is more than just a part of me within, she is my essence, she is my self in my entirety. I, like everyone else, deserve to be loved and nurtured and now, I love and nurture my self.