One of the most powerful things you can do as an adult is to heal your inner child. It’s not easy, and it takes work, but it can yield unbelievable growth in your life.
When I was at school, I was bullied.
A lot. Physically and verbally. It went on intermittently throughout my school career (a whopping 12 years). What did it look like? Here’s a little list:
Slammed into walls
Kicked in the back in class
Stabbed with a compass (those circle-making tools we used in maths)
Called a whore (I was 12)
But the most insidious bullying was the bullying that wasn’t physical. It was simply being ostracized because I wasn’t in the first netball team, and I did public speaking and debating and drama, instead of sport. The teachers were as guilty as the students by the way. High school in Johannesburg in the 90s was, after all, cesspit of white privilege.
It’s the reason I’m so outspoken today. Like when I was surrounded by three men on a train.
And it wasn’t just the bullying…
On top of this, we were poor. Really poor. My dad had got ill and we’d lost everything (our house, our money, EV.RY.THING). So, I was a poor kid in a school full of rich kids, and holy hell, did they let me know it.
It’s no wonder then, that one of the most profound and gut-wrenching moments I ever had in therapy in my 20s, was when I was told to think about that young girl. The child who, from the ages of 12 to 18, was ignored, made fun of, and treated pretty poorly. I cried, thinking of that child.
And then I realized that I had to protect her. That I could protect her. Because I was an adult now, and I could be there for her the way no one else really was.
Heal your inner child, lady
That began my journey into healing that child; into loving her and reassuring her and making her feel like she could do anything and be anything. I don’t get it right every day, but there are things I do now that I just couldn’t do in my teens and 20s.
If you’d told me when I was 15 or 16 that I’d be running a business that inspires and helps women all over the world step into who they are and OWN it like Oprah owns HARPO, I would never have believed you.
But it’s precisely because I’ve loved the little Ash in me, that I’ve been able to figure this all out (and when I say that, I don’t mean I’ve figured it all out. Every single day is a learning curve.)
When you heal your inner child…the one who wasn’t seen or heard…you empower yourself in the now. Ready for the juice, beautiful child in you?
1. You can say NO
Yup. The hardest thing EVER. I struggle with it all the time. But saying no is huge because it makes room for all the things you want to do. How many times were you told as a child that you had to do something. We said NO all the time, right? But no one listened. It was literally smashed out of us. So, now? NO. Nope. Nosirree.
“Can you get this project done by Monday?” (a request I often get on a Friday)? No.
“Are you able to give me a discount?” No.
“Can you maybe not be so loud?” Ummmm…No.
2. Ask for what you want
Oh, man. This is hard. Especially when it comes to the thing I love most in the world: Money.
I did a course recently that taught me the most powerful lesson ever. Don’t ask for what you want. Say what you want.
“For this job, I charge $2 000.” Boom. Done.
And then you say, “Let me know if you have any questions.”
Not, “How do you feel about that?”
Nor, “Let me know what you think.”
Neither, “Let me know if that works for you.”
Simply, “Let me know if you have any questions.”
It works every time. And every time I get what I ask for, or there’s a delightfully respectful negotiation.
3. Laugh at yourself (with love)
I trip a lot. And fall over my own feet. When I’m having my period, it gets even worse. I fall. And walk into things. Sometimes I break things.
I used to get SO EMBARRASSED.
Now? I laugh. Because the world is full of evil and trauma, and falling over a brick or tripping on the steps is not a big deal. It’s just not. So, laugh. Loudly. Head back, mouth open, throat exposed to the sky.
It smashes embarrassment in the face.
4. This isn’t school anymore
If I could go back in time, I’d break more school rules. Because, honestly, some of them were just totally stupid. And sexist. Girls not being allowed to wear trousers, in temperatures below 0 degrees? SEXIST. STUPID. UNACCEPTABLE.
I’d also not worry so much about being so terrible at Maths.
5. Reconnect with what you loved as a kid
When I was a child, I used to blast music in my room, and sing into a hairbrush, pretending I was Christina Aguilera.
I used to talk to myself all the time, and act out situations I wanted to come true.
We PLAYED, remember?
Go back to playing. I listened to the most fantastic podcast a while ago about this very thing.
The bottom line
Try and do just one of these things every day, and watch yourself rise. When you heal your inner child, you give yourself the most beautiful gift: permission. That’s when the magic happens.
Ashleigh is a copywriter who works with female business owners and entrepreneurs. She helps them to find their authentic voice so that they can weave it into their copy and branding, and RISE.
She is from Johannesburg, South Africa and now lives in London with her dog, her cat, and her husband. She’s a vegan and a feminist, who swears too much and laughs too loudly. You can follow her at https://www.thestoryteam.org/