"You can play after you do your homework!"
"No dessert until you finish your dinner!"
For many folks, those words from our parents to us as children have become internalized and twisted and warped into a mean inner voice that now tells us cruel things like:
"You want to go outside for some fresh air? Take a nap? Do something nice for yourself? Are you kidding? Who do you think you are? You haven't finished your entire week's worth of work projects yet. Get back to work, loser!"
"Wait, you can't go on vacation, take a mental health day, buy yourself sports equipment, have a hobby, (fill in the blank). You haven't reached the pinnacle of your business goals yet! You're still in progress-chop, chop, you're wasting time. There's no time for fun or relaxation!"
Hold on a hot minute!!
That's not the message our parents were giving us, was it? Hopefully not!
This inner narrative is what I call "Inner Child" Abuse, and it needs to stop. (as does any type of child abuse.)
How did our parents teaching us responsibility evolve into us treating ourselves like insignificant robots? Loser robots at that! Social condition plays a big role here, and since I can't tackle that in one blog, let's look at what we can do to undo the "Inner Child" abuse.
It's time to pay attention to your inner dialogue, otherwise know as your self-talk. How do you talk to yourself throughout the day? Are you loving, kind, or demanding and judging? If you fall into the latter more often than not, then it's time for some inner mean voice reform school!
Inner mean voice reform school is easy but takes repetition.
first, make a list of all the mean things you catch yourself saying to yourself.
then make a list of all the fun things/self-care/restful activities that you withhold from yourself.
it may take some time to notice all of these, so just keep a running list.
then you can either pick one at a time to turn around, or address them as they come up.
Turning around the negative self-talk means stepping in and overriding the mean thing and reforming the thought or reframing the intention. The theory being that this mean part of you is actually trying to help you be a better person, but just goes about it in a cruel way.
for example: "You can't rest or play now, you have to finish 8 hours of work first!" The turnaround is, "Hmm, I know if I give my brain and body a break, I will come back refreshed and be even more inspired, which is a good thing!"
another example: "You can't have hobbies until you reach the one big goal!" The turnaround is, "Hmm, that's like telling a child they can never play until they graduate from high school. That's ridiculous! Play is good for me. Taking care of my body is good for me. I'm not a robot!"
you can also simply question why you should be withholding self-care and hobbies from yourself. You might find some interesting logic hiding out inside of you that needs to be straightened out!
So there you have it. It's only a start, but if you follow these steps, I think you'll find a lot of info about your inner mean voice that will help you to liberate and protect your inner child. Remember: you're not a robot! And yes, adults are allowed to play! If you'd like some support in letting yourself play or healing the damage done by your inner mean voice, check out my monthly Radiant You Inner Journeys for Wisdom & Merriment!