“Everything has been said already, but not yet by everyone.” – Karl Valentin
In our world today, it can feel impossible to do a very simply thing such as finding your own voice amidst all the competing forces. We often feel as if an inner critic lives in us that agrees with all the criticism we hear in our daily lives, in the news cycles, in Presidential campaign rhetoric, and even in religious experiences where we may have felt toxically shamed.
Often the hopeful and imaginative voice that was alive in us as children goes into hiding as we become the adults we need to be to make it in this world. But, along the way, we may begin to receive messages from our Inner Child, or our True Self, a nagging, a symbol that keeps re-appearing in our lives, or something that continues to speak up. Some even believe panic and anxiety are messages from our Inner Child, reminding us that we need to get back on the path she was on. This voice within may be telling us to go back and rediscover the one that believed in goodness, love and dreaming. However, it is difficult to give ourselves permission to seek out this Inner Child, but it can be done, even in today’s culture, and it is one of the most rewarding journeys you will ever take. Not only that, but it is a critical moment in our time. Now, more than ever, we need to dig deeply within the depths of our own souls and manifest the love that is hiding there in our Inner Child. For ourselves, for others and for a Divine, Higher Power many of us call God.
One of the main challenges to connecting with our authentic self in the world is that we all seem to be swimming in a stew of constant criticism and it’s confusing as to what we’re supposed to be. We live in a culture in which most people do not feel truly valued, have few intimate friendships and lack the support systems needed to cultivate the kind of trust and love it takes to mine the voice within. We often feel that we connect more deeply with ourselves whenever we are experiencing nature, nurture or an experience of self-love but may find it difficult to bring these moments into our every-day lives, moments where we feel connected to ourselves.
In recovery groups for trauma, addiction and dysfunction, this voice of criticism that is constantly running is known as the Critical Parent. We use a Loving Parent within to silence this Critical Parent and help us develop the dreaming of the Inner Child, where our true voice lives. As we take our painful experiences and begin to address the voice of the Critical Parent with the voice of the Loving Parent within, we see a little tunnel of beauty open up inside of us. We lovingly raise the goodness, dreams and imagination of our Inner Child to the surface of our lives, allowing our voice to come to life.
In indigenous peoples, a child’s dreams were a special way of living out the story written upon the walls of our souls. A dream was given on behalf of the community to each person to be lived out in the world so that others would benefit. It was a parent’s responsibility to bring the child’s dream before the Great Spirit as a sacred thing, to be nurtured, cultivated and lived out in the tribe. This is an action of love. But in our culture, we seem to have taken the idea of a dream and turned it into a commodity, something that should be profited from or should bring us fame, glory or success. In doing so, we’ve actually created a kind of trap or snare for a dream in which we may feel if it doesn’t produce or make us money, it’s not worth pursuing. But nothing could be further from the truth. Though dreams may lead to profit, the purpose of a dream is to bring one closer to God, others and provide something useful and beautiful for the community. Pursuing a dream is about falling in love with one’s own true voice and life itself and sharing this with others for the benefit of all.
St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is a person fully alive.” As we apply the voice of the Loving Parent to our Inner Child within, over time and with much practice and diligence, we begin to become fully alive and see the beauty of our inner world shining out from within. We mine the depths of what God has placed in us already, love. All the saints remind us, Jesus, too, that love is the highest form of praise and the most important thing we can do, for ourselves, for God and for one another. What’s interesting is that, as we do this, we find others that are on this journey, too, or perhaps they find us. As we resolve to love, love becomes that force that connects us more deeply to the sacred in the world.