We are all born innocent; as infants, toddlers, and young children, our innocence allows us to grow, learn and develop in optimal ways and at phenomenal speeds.
Then, at some moment in our growing up, something happens and on some deep, hidden level, a dramatic shift occurs and we mysteriously intuit that our innocence has vanished and we have crossed over an unanticipated threshold toward a darker, heavier place. Why did innocence leave? Where did it go? And most importantly–how can we get it back?
The particular event or series of incidents that moved us out of innocence is less relevant than the omnipresent but unspoken awareness of feeling vulnerable in a threatening world and somehow blameworthy. The pattern and behavior of compulsively blaming and harshly judging ourselves develops into our unconscious default and can dominate for years, even decades. Self-forgiveness seems impossible to imagine, as does recovering our innocence.
Yet, without self-forgiveness and recapturing innocence, how can we experience true joy, peace, and health?
How do we transition from blaming, shaming and judgement to a place of acceptance, forgiveness and connection where we believe we are worthy of abundant love, health and joy?
This gradual transition demands a disciplined, assiduous practice of reconnecting to the baby, toddler, child or adolescent inside of ourself who needs to be seen, heard, understood, valued and loved. We are the only ones who can give this to ourselves. We are the only ones who can parent the needy, hurting child inside of us who needs our attention, acceptance and love. The more we avoid the wounded and needy child within, the more we, as adults, unknowingly chase others away from us with our neediness–neediness that we are not even aware of yet to those around us seems suffocating and blatantly obvious.
You can start your practice with one simple question each day. Choose a time in your infancy, childhood or adolescence; see yourself at that age and ask that younger version of you what she/he needs.