Holding Our Younger Self
There are many kinds of holding. From the safety of a mother or fathers arms when we are small babies, to the space created by a host at a dinner party or the responsibility for us taken by an airline pilot. Our lives are filled with patterns of holding and being held.
In her book 'The Continuum Concept' Jean Leadloff writes of her observations of children in some tribal societies that seem to function in a more harmonious way than our own. She records patterns of behavior between parents and babies that fulfill the child's developing needs and she examines the effects of not receiving the touch, movement, and respect that we humans have evolved to expect as babies. There are a number of support groups throughout the world for those who struggle against their modern cultural conditioning so that they may parent in a more intuitive, human, way.
Those of us who are already grown up are sometimes left with the effects of missing parts of our infant development. Perhaps feelings of incompleteness or hollowness inside, a lack of self confidence or anxiety and depression. A searching through relationships for something that is never there for us. A difficulty in caring properly for ourselves and a reluctance to believe we deserve to have what we know we need.
To grow through these uncomfortable states we need to develop in ourselves loving, respectful parenting of our present younger self. We need to grow our own internal nurturing parents. I think that most of us benefit by giving that part of ourselves some attention whatever our childhood experience.
It is a common human trait to do for others what we most need for ourselves and holding is no exception. Look at your own patterns and at how often you say no to other peoples demands. Is it often you that does the driving or the cooking? Are you often the listener to other peoples problems, and do you find yourself supporting others when what you hunger for is the attention for yourself? If you are a parent or work at any of the caring nurturing professions its especially hard to balance your needs with the needs of others.
Knowing what our younger self needs and finding ways of filling those needs is not always easy. It sometimes takes real determination even to have our own comfortable private space (especially in a family situation!) The quiet time when we can feel what it is that our inner self really needs can be at the bottom of a long list of priorities. Giving our inner parent permission to meet our needs can feel greedy and selfish but those feeling often stem from old unhelpful conditioning.. Giving to ourselves frees us to be creative and playful. Our younger selves love to play, the times when we can allow them out can be the most joyful in our lives.
When we are adults it is up to us to hold our own younger selves, to give that responsibility away long term to others is not healthy unless it is a conscious way of meeting specific needs (as in going to someone for a massage when we need contact).
Relationships where each person can be the child or the adult without getting stuck in either role are the most exiting and fulfilling It is our own internal relationships of these parts of ourselves that make the free movement between our adult to our child possible.
We are all physical beings fed and warmed by the earth and the sun. Whether or not we call her mother it is the earth that holds us all. I celebrate the five elements; earth, air, fire, water and space as a way of supporting myself and seeing how I am nurtured in my life;
The element of the material body. Look at how your environment meets your needs. Do you allow yourself the locality that nurtures you and the surrounding where you can let go and feel relaxed?
Feeding ourselves is at the root of our nurturing. Do you allow yourself good nourishing food in a time and space where you can relax and digest properly? Its not always easy to feel we deserve these things.
Treat yourself to a trip to the charity shop with some of the clothes you no longer like.
Someone else will put them to good use and it feels great to be seen in an outfit you are really comfortable in.
For freedom and wisdom.
Using your adult intelligence for yourself to figure out a way to have what you want, that means allowing the time in your schedule to focus on your own needs and using the power of your rational mind to serve your self.
We all carry old tapes in our heads telling us what 'should' do. Can you find the balance between those voices and your own loving care of yourself in making your life decisions? Do you give yourself the space to follow your true desires (at least sometimes)?
For passion and spirit.
Do you value your own passion, even allowing it to show sometimes when others are uncomfortable with it? Respecting our your spirit allows it space in your life to guide your decisions. Our younger self blossoms in creativity, it only needs the permission and the time.
Creativity can fire us in our work; Look at what you feel passionate about and see if there is a way you could work towards using that energy to earn your living.
Giving space for your emotions and respecting that they need to be expressed. Providing for yourself the right opportunity to express emotions that might not be easily shown in your everyday life, perhaps through dance or therapy or time on your own in nature. Make time for playfulness.
Finding people who respect you for who you are and will accept you with all your emotions, perhaps being prepared to pay a therapist to support you or to join a self help group as a step along the way.
The essential time and attention we need to give ourselves to discover what it is that our true needs are without any distractions.
We deserve the time to listen to ourselves. We deserve to respect our own needs. We have a right to be ourselves and nurture our whole being. The more we can do this, the better we will be at caring in a truly loving way for those around us and the more powerful and fulfilled we will be as we move through the world.
A piece of practical magic;
Make an altar to represent the elemental ways we hold ourselves. Bowls of earth and water, perhaps a feather for air and a candle for fire. Arranged in a cross the space between them represents the fifth 'element'.
Write your needs and plans associated with each element on pieces of paper and put them under the bowls etc. As time goes on you can add other ideas or check your progress at fulfilling the items on the papers. Do something concrete, however little, to show that you care - about yourself.
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