Sunday, 6 November 2011

Inner child

One reason I've never wanted children is that I'm already busy enough dealing with my truculent inner child. You know, the part of me that never does what he's told and insists on going his own way.

Psychologists talk a lot about "getting in touch with your inner child" as if that's something inherently positive and creative and life-enhancing, but in fact it's equally likely that your inner child is one long pain in the butt.

I mean of course the inner child who wakes me up at 2 am fretting about some upcoming task, convinced that it'll all go horribly wrong, I won't be able to cope, I'll let everyone else down etc. The inner child who's plagued by anxiety, hysteria, panic. The inner child who takes no notice when I tell him to go back to sleep, that everything'll work out fine, that there's nothing I can do about it right now anyway.

It's the same inner child who doesn't want to do things because he's too scared, or cynical, or lazy, or indifferent. Doesn't want to see that new film because he's seen some bad reviews. Doesn't want to go to that social event because he'll be tongue-tied with all those strange people. Doesn't want to drive to somewhere new because he'll get lost and confused and find the place he's looking for doesn't exist.

Like a real-life obstinate child, I can cajole and coax and tempt until I'm blue in the face, but half the time I get nowhere, the resistance simply increases. Why do I have so little control over a part of my own psyche, my own being? Shouldn't I be able to bring him into line and get some simple cooperation? But no, that's too much to ask. The inner child is like someone who's been dumped on my doorstep and I just have to do what I can with this wayward entity.

And unlike a real child, he's never grown up and started his own life. He's still hanging around like some feckless teenager, annoying the hell out of me. How can I discreetly strangle him?

25 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

If you had children you might
find that you had to figure out to deal with your inner child just so you could deal with the real child before you. Usually there ain't room for more than one child - unless we move into issues of homicide! :)

Nick said...

Jenny - That's even more alarming, dealing with an inner child and an outer child simultaneously....

meno said...

If you figure it out let me know as i have an inner child i would like to grow up or strangle too.

Liz said...

You need to get that inner child out, nick. Talk to him tenderly ... and then thrash him within an inch of his life. That'll sort him.

Trust me, I'm a therapist (not).

Grannymar said...

If you get rid of your inner child, who will you blame for the triple ice-cream cone or scuffed shoes from shuffling through autumn leaves?

John Gray said...

good post...
my reason for not having kids...?

well apart bbeing an old poof that is...

I just don't want the resposibility
too, too much...... ok having a field full of animals has its own responsibilites but at least you dont have to make a young chicken a well balanced and productive member of society!

nuff said

Baino said...

I'm not sure those things are childish, kind of natural actually. I have a friend who is far too in touch with his inner child and I just wish he'd grow up a bit. I'd keep him around but on a short leash. Jenny has a point, if you have children, you soon learn the art of toddler taming.

Macy said...

I still have trouble with my inner teenager.
Seriously.

Nick said...

Meno - Here I come with a pair of tights, ready to strangle the little bugger. Oh damn, he's got away again.

Liz - I talk to him tenderly, I hold a knife to his throat, and he just carries on regardless.

Grannymar - A triple ice cream cone? Gimmee, gimmee. I blame nobody, it's unmitigated pleasure.

John - Very true, a chicken can escape all those essential adult responsibilities. Lucky so and so. She's expected to churn out plenty of eggs though.

Nick said...

Baino - I think a very long leash would be better, then he might disappear altogether.

Macy - Your inner teenager? What, wanting to party all night and wear a microskirt and stilettos?

kylie said...

interesting post and comments!
inner children and outer children are the same: sometimes you have to just firmly but as pleasantly as possible ride roughshod over them.

i am known to say "i am the mum, thats why"
no correspondence is entered into at that point

Nick said...

Kylie - If only there was a psychological equivalent of "This correspondence is now closed. The Editor's decision is final." But nagging anxiety doesn't readily respond to any kind of discipline.

kylie said...

well i was thinking of kids mostly but you can also do it to yourself.
"i dont feel like seeing the new movie but i'm going to, it might be better than i imagine"

"i'm terrified of getting a different job but it wont hurt to send an application"

we try to look too far ahead but if we just work on the bit in front of our nose it can work better.

having said all that i have fits of panic in the middle of the night. they are legendary for their stupidity andi feel your pain

nursemyra said...

I don't think those things you describe are what's meant by your "inner child". It's more about the carefree side of life that we lose touch with, the ability to wonder at things, to skip for the sake of it, or roll down a hill just to experience that feeling again. when did you last roll down a hill Nick? Try it sometime, it's fun!

Nick said...

Kylie - Actually I'm quite good at over-ruling (or dodging) my inner child if there's a real need to, to keep my life on the rails. Otherwise I'd be a complete basket case.

Just about everyone I ask has panic attacks in the middle of the night. It seems to be a normal reaction to this crazy existence.

Nick said...

Myra - That's very true, I need to give more rein to my carefree side. Though innocent amusement comes to me quite naturally anyway. I haven't rolled down a hill for a while, but I've screamed with delight on a ferris wheel. Does that count?

Wisewebwoman said...

I've learned over the years to parent my inner child but never kill her or hurt her. She's such an intrinsic part of me and one of the major reasons, also, that I am not in a long term committed relationship as she's not that mature or forgiving or compromising, qualities which you seem to have in abundence, Nick.
Most of us are ill prepared to have kids, myself included. they just happen for a lot of us and we do the best we can.
But I so enjoyed playing with my kids/grandkid: my inner child had a ball.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - Oh, that sounds difficult, your inner child not being mature or forgiving or compromising. I guess all you can do is run fast and give her the slip.

blackwatertown said...

Yes - rolling down hills - very good suggestion.
I was going to suggest bribing your inner child and then accepting the bribe - but going out and having fun is a far better idea.
Tree climbing.
Rattling sticks on railings.
Stamping in puddles.
Saying not at the end of sentences.
All good.

secret agent woman said...

"Psychologists talk a lot about "getting in touch with your inner child"" Yeah, we really don't talk about that much. I think that's mostly a stereotype that the public grabbed on to. But the idea isn't to act like a child and irritate the hell out of everyone around you. I think it's about looking at the world through fresh eyes, being always open to learning, and re-claiming joy. In other words, remember the positive characteristics about childhood rather than being a brat.

Nick said...

Blackwater - Excellent suggestions, all good clean fun. And rattling sticks on railings has the extra advantage of annoying everyone else.

Secret Agent - Yes, a bit of a stereotype, I'm sure. Indeed, the best type of inner child is the one that sees the world afresh and never loses that sense of wonder and enthusiasm.

Rummuser said...

Do what I have done. Accept that little child inside, allow it to flourish alongside the outside grown up me and watch the fun. The only problem that you are likely to encounter is when you are in conversation with him, and others are around. You are likely to be looked at strangely, usually with awe!

Nick said...

Ramana - If I allowed my inner child to flourish, I think I would soon be a suitable case for treatment. My anxiety levels would hit the roof.

I've very prone to talking to myself, but it's not very awe-inspiring.

e said...

I think Secret agent Woman has the right idea, and you can still enjoy the triple scoop too.

Nick said...

e - Ice cream is one of my big pleasures, in the summer at any rate. Sometimes I just elbow my inner child out of the way and grab whatever I want.