So what do we do to raise vibrant children? Paradoxically the answer is “nothing”. It’s not what we need to do, it’s what we need to not do. It’s all the overdriven, controlled doingness of our modern parenting that ends up squelching this natural vibrancy thus preventing the inherent curiosity of discovering life and simply allowing a child to be a child.
Pause for a moment to try to remember some of the days of your own childhood, where a day seemed to stretch on forever, where honeysuckle was the most delicious fragrance imaginable, and every jumble of bushes was a fort in which to play or have a tea party. If you were lucky enough, you were able to play all day and when you got home were welcomed with love and excitement for all you discovered that day. If that is something that happened rarely, I believe (along with many current psychologists) there is a child inside yearning to have those adventures still. And this child, this inner child of ours needs to be attended to so that we can become whole and live full and fulfilling lives.
So how do we find this place inside where this young version of ourselves lives? We still ourselves, go out for walk in a park, by a meadow or a stream, and simply listen. We quiet our minds and listen inside to our hearts. It’s there that this child lives… and by now, usually has plenty to say. Often in the beginning he/she speaks of the pain, the misunderstanding, and the needs that were never adequately addressed growing up. But over time if we’re able to compassionately comfort and care for our little one, something begins to shift and change. Our own adult needs and the way we express them seem to take on less charge and become less crucial, over-reactive or out-of-control. We become more integrated within ourselves, more at ease, less defensive and softer, and our own natural aliveness returns. We find ourselves wanting to be more playful, delight in simple things, and are more readily available for new experiences and to others in our lives. Indeed, what we came into this world with, our natural vibrancy, returns as we start to experience the pleasure of our humanness, our own unique being, and the joy of living life again…in a fresh new way…as a child would.
Michael Mongno MFT, Ph.D, LP is a licensed psychoanalyst, relationship counselor and holistic practitioner in Manhattan. He is the founder of Present Centered Therapies which synthesizes Gestalt and Cognitive Behavioral therapies, Eastern spirituality, as well as Imago and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. He brings a wealth of successful experience with a wide range of couples issues as well as down-to-earth wisdom and modern sensibility to what it takes to create healthy, loving, and empowered relationships.
Please visit PresentCenteredTherapies.com or call (212) 799-0001 for more information.