Have you ever wondered what kind of person you'd be like if you're immune to judgments? How we would feel if we had the freedom to just be, without worrying about self-worth, defined by society’s measure of income, education, and social status?
Our childhood is a period of time when we’re living out our most authentic self. When a child throws a tantrum and falls to the floor in public, the child is putting the rush of emotions as priority. Without worries of being judged, the tensions release and the body resumes back to peace. If as adults, we also feel this when we cry our emotions out, then why do we judge a crying child for acting on instinct? The only reason I can think of is that we learned to judge when things deviate from the accepted norm.
As we grow older, our emotions begin to take meaning and whether something is good or bad is determined by the cues we receive. Mom yelling prompts fear and if fear feels awful, we categorize the situation as negative. When “acting out” becomes synonymous with unacceptable, our bodies begin to flight or fight. The more our environments enforce these behaviors, the more we become masters of suppressing our emotions. In essence, we are schooled to behave a certain way so that we are no longer “childish” or “immature." It is the path to becoming adults that we learn to act.
Despite our efforts to deny our childish self, we learn that our core can never grow up. The same childlike behaviors come out when we’re most vulnerable; cry like a baby, throw tantrums like a toddler and seek comfort like a child. We also experience the childish sensations when we’re most happy, excited and cheerful. It must not be a coincidence that those moments are often when our emotions are strong, fierce enough to let instinct override logic. It is also when we experience who we are and be in a state of mind to allow passion and purpose to emerge. However, in order for the child to co-exist in our adult life, we attach a new label, our inner child, so we can disassociate from the negative connotations. The hidden child we're fearful to let out entirely, is ironically, the person who we were meant to be. Having been in this body for 40 years, I have finally realized that we’re letting a man-made numbering system, from thousands of years ago, define our potentials and what we can and can’t do. Hence, the more we invent, the more conflict we create for our natural being.
We adapt because our survival instincts allow us to fight for harmony between nature and nurture. The ongoing conflicts between the two states force our identity to transition through different stages of life. We begin with childhood, our most authentic self. Through schooling, whether it’s from institutions or society, we learn to navigate and manipulate the system (shaped by geography, religion and culture). As we deviate too far from our core, our instincts sound the alarm to allow “mid-life crisis” to kick in. With the sound of crisis, we panic and aimlessly search for answers outward, when the key to unlock answers are within. With time, most of us realize that education, income and social status are not what gives happiness and a purposeful life. Otherwise, all rich people would be happy. Some of us will be “enlightened” to unload the weights we've accumulated in life and learn to be with our authentic self. As nature takes its course, we start to “act more like a child” accompanying a deteriorating body, a state where our focus is to live and not suppress.
This observation and realization not only changed myself but made me a new parent. While I want to prepare my girls to excel in life, I also know that the byproducts of emphasis on education and income are momentary happiness. Being able to live out life as who they are, without conflict, is the only way they can be content with life. Some of the upper class parents from Silicon Valley must have it figured out by opting in for low-tech childhoods. The happiest country, Denmark, puts an emphasis on play. We all know that children play to learn but when the society itself supports play, it encourages an environment where children can learn about life in their most instinctive form. That encouragement helps to retain authenticity as the child grows up and fights the crosswinds from life.
There might not be a fountain of youth but there is that inner child, our most authentic being, who never grows old. The 80 year old grandpa model from China was rocking the runway when he “acted out the story of a little kid trying to get home, or an old man who’s a little kid trying to get home …”. Don’t chase happiness and passion, set free your inner child. When you can live in your most authentic self, you open room for passion, purpose, and happiness to emerge. Experience more time with your gut than with the norms.
Song of the Sea is a favorite movie of mine and as I write this article, I realized why I'm drawn to the movie and the lullaby song. We are all in one way or another, whispering our long lost lullaby. I encourage you to watch the movie (free with Amazon Prime membership) as it depicts how we allow ourselves to bottle up and be fearful of emotions. So the next time someone tells you you're acting like a child, take it as a compliment that you didn't choose to act but chose to live out your authentic self.
Please note, the content on this blog are opinions of Block39's editorial team, unless otherwise referenced. We ask that you kindly credit the page should you wish to reference the materials. Thank you~
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