“The circle of trust” (as quoted by the movie Fockers) within oneself is constantly being adjusted. Inside all of us are unmet needs that cry for our attention and affection.

If a need is not met, we will fill it somehow — perhaps not in a healthy way, but in some compulsive way or covered up way that leads us to a destructive path that leads us to less accountability and causes a pain under the surface. It may be in the form of a string of relationships that are shallow, a love affair to kindle passion, eating food, watching TV, playing videogames, shopping, gossiping, raising our children without boundaries, passing on bad habits to our children, drinking to a buzz, people pleasing or following, and following the plans of others instead of your plan for your life and priorities.

The land of the free is the land of children, yet as adults why do we throw this to the wind and follow different standards? Why do we, as children, follow? As adults, do we think that our ego and position and rank are too high to follow the codes we learned as children? To love. Share. Gentle touches. Play. That’s enough. Good listeners. You are the student. Sometimes it is a corner of our heart that darkened where a light is shed and we are shown what we can become. All it takes is a spark in the heart inside to let us see.

There is a great big world waiting to discover what you want and can be — if only you believe. You are not your mother, your grandmother or even your father. You are unique, and the capacity that you hold within cannot be measured and may have never been seen before. This could be the very first discovery of you being born and birthed to the world to what you are capable of and what you want to achieve in your lifetime — and the journey will be uncovered with you having a front row seat that only you can attend and the players that are revealed as time passes.

This is life and a journey and a process and no one knows all the answers or how it all ends, but that’s a good thing.

Children are the part that believe — the essence of Disney movies, the princess being rescued, the prince saving the day, people helping people, the widow being loved, enough for everyone. That is the part of the inner child, and when you quiet enough to listen or receive, you hear the truth. You watch kids, they believe this. When they see someone they like, they reach out their hand in love. It is obvious — black and white. They do not try to figure everything out either; they enjoy the moments of life.

When children get a bad report, they don’t want their parent to find out, and when they are surrounded by the love and acceptance and discipline of their parents, then the children blossom and often make good choices.

That is why it is important to listen to the inner child and find out what it needs. It is a guide to the kind of parenting that may be lacking in the child’s life. Once you are an adult, you are the parent. So if you listen inside and the child is angry, give it freedom and love. If you listen inside and the child is tired, give it comfort. If you listen inside and it is scared, give it strength.

It may have different needs for everyone, but the important part is for it to be heard — because it will find a way to be. Inside, the child is asking you questions still. It may not be in the frame of an adult, because the questions were of a little girl or boy. But now, you are all grown up and the questions remain, but they are reframed. What are the questions that keep going through your head day-by-day? The ones you wrestle with? We too need to wrestle and win — for the little one within.

Ann Niebuhr has a degree in Psychology/Theolology, and for the past eight years she has worked in mental health and education with children. She is a marathon runner, writer, avid reader, self-employed business owner with a love for volunteering over the holidays. She lives in Anoka, MN.

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