It’s so easy to grow up, put our “big pants” on, and forget about that little kid in us. But deep down in each and every one of us is a little boy or little girl still longing to have fun, even as we become adults. Yet, too often we end up neglecting that part of us as adults and ignore any of those urges to be a kid again, even for a few moments. I’ve come to learn in my life how crucial it is to not ignore those inner urges anymore and to let my kid out on a regular basis, because when I don’t, I tend to find myself becoming totally sad and depressed.
I’ve seen this same type of depression in a number of people in recovery from addiction I’ve worked with, each having mostly neglected their inner child for most of their adulthood. How I learn this is by having them do a homework exercise of coming up with a list of things they liked to do as a kid and to identify the last time they actually did any one of them. Most haven’t done a single one of them in many, many years.
When I realized this for myself, it was a game changer. It’s when I saw that there was the big me, adult Andrew, the guy who calls the day to day shots in life, and then there was the 8-year-old me, little Andy, the kid who still longed to play and do kid stuff. I hadn’t honored that part of me in so long and it was the very thing making me quite sad on a daily basis.
In light of that, people tend to ask how to figure out what their kid wants. Well, I began that process by first identifying what my kid didn’t want. Things like alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex, gambling, and the like that big Andrew got addicted to that caused little Andy to get neglected. Once I eliminated all those unhealthy addictions and stopped living in them, I began to remember the many things I liked as a kid.
Things like mini-golf. For those who know me, I probably play close to a hundred games of it every single summer nowadays. I’ll even take day trips to play courses in towns in the middle of nowhere or in cities a few hours away too and I always seem to feel better after doing it. Or things like eating ice cream and chocolate. My little kid loves both. Just a few weeks ago in fact, I felt my little kid nudge me with that urge and so I abruptly went to Cold Stone close to 10pm and got myself a treat. And you know what? I felt really good afterward. Not from the sugar itself, but from listening to that little kid in me.
The bottom line is that I’ve found it so important to keep a healthy relationship to my inner child. Whether it’s exploring a new game of mini-golf, gorging on some ice cream or chocolate, going to the movies, taking hikes, pulling out some of my board games, playing cards, working on puzzles, coloring, or even just making silly faces, noises, or goofing around like I did as a kid, each I’ve found to be uplifting, sometimes even pulling me straight out of sadness and depression.
So, if you should ever find yourself being regularly depressed, may I ask you to consider the last time you allowed your inner child, your little kid, to come out? When’s the last time you let him or her have some fun? Fun that your 8-year-old self would have had. If you can’t remember, then maybe it’s time to finally reconnect to that part of yourself. Who knows, it may end up being exactly what you need to improve your mood and your life…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson