Recently, I was speaking with a friend of mine about bringing out the child in us. We joked and pretended that we were young children again. There were lots of “what if….” and “just pretend that…”, but then I was being confronted with a huge surprise. “Thank you so much Dirk”, she told me after a while. “For what?” I asked. “For reviving me, and bringing out the child in me again. I am in awe.”
The child in you is always alive
Although my friend somehow knew that this little child was not completely forgotten, she could have never envisioned that it could be coming alive so quickly though. It took her completely off guard and woke her up, from years and years of being in some kind of sleepy state. Not feeling fully alive. Not feeling playful and light. This seriousness and sense of responsibility had crept into her life over the years, without even realizing it. But by being playful, something was triggered inside her—her inner child woke up!
From personal experience, I know that many grownups prefer to ignore to listen to the child within them. Many of us often feel that it’s childish to think that way: “What can a child offer us?” But they forget that this child is who they really are. This child once was in awe when watching the first snow flakes coming down. This same child loved to play outside all day long. Wasn’t hungry when mum called for dinner and wasn’t tired during the 3-day school trip. We were fully alive!
So what has happened then?
We are expected to grow up. School suddenly becomes more serious, and high marks make our teachers and parents happy. We apply for admission to a respected university. Mostly, not because it’s our passion, but because our parents think this is the best choice to secure a good future career. Do I need to go on? You get it, right?
I will share a secret with you that I kept completely to myself up to a year ago or so. When I was fourteen and in high school, I had to choose the subjects I wanted to focus on. I had no clue what I wanted to do after school, I was only fourteen. My dad was getting concerned and had me sign up for a career test. I was not motivated at the time, but went through almost a full day of psychological tests. The end-result was not very helpful to me – I could listen well and I was very creative, and some career options were being presented. I was not impressed. But about a month or so later, I found the official test results somewhere on my dad’s desk and started reading. I was in shock! They basically concluded that I wasn’t very smart and they found it hard to come up with a good advise for Dirk.
I had always been a happy kid and I was doing pretty well at school, but reading this report changed my life for the next twenty years. I started believing that I was stupid and school became a struggle. At some point, I felt so bad about it that I wanted to prove I wasn’t stupid. About twenty years later, I was working as a CEO for American Express. I had built an amazing career and was very successful in what I did. But I wasn’t happy… I just wanted to prove to myself and to my family that I wasn’t stupid. How sad.
When you become disconnected from your heart, you’re not living. But when you’re connected to your heart, you become like a child. You’re a spark of divine energy. I can tell you, that I am deeply connected to my heart now, and I am very grateful for this traumatic experience. It was my teacher!
The medieval mystic Mechthild von Magdeburg said it beautifully: “A fish cannot drown in water, and a bird does not fall from the sky. Each creature must find its God given element.”
I was therefore touched by Paulo Coelho’s words in the movie The Power of The Heart – The child says: “Hello I am here.” But we are grown up now and not going to listen to this child, because this child has childish dreams, and so we forget the child. The moment we forget the child, we think that the child is going to forget us. But the child is not going to forget us. This child will always be here and says again: “Hello, I am here. I am talking to you. Can you listen?” You will then say: “Shut up, I don’t want to listen to you.”
But the day that you’re facing death, this child will be there again, and will ask you: “Why didn’t you listen to me?” You then have to answer. And your answer will be your hell, or your heaven.
3 simple ways to connect with the child in you
It would be easy for me to tell you just to do fun stuff. Things that you are really passionate about. Although that is definitely important, I believe there’s something more to this. Below are three simple ways of teaching yourself to connect with the child in you.
1. Becoming aware of now
Science shows us that we are pure energy systems. We are for over 99% energy and the remaining 1% is matter. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? So if we are virtually pure energy, we need to make sure that we tap into this energy, if we want to connect to our deepest self, our soul, the child in you. There’s a law in science that says: “Where the attention goes, is where the energy flows.” So, in stead of always being focused on everything outside of you, which will cause you to disconnect you from yourself, start becoming aware of what you are doing in this very moment — feel what you feel right now, become aware of the flavours of the food you put into your mouth, truly enjoy the sounds of the instruments and voice when you listen to your favourite music and take in all the beautiful elements of nature when you go outside. And when thoughts do come up, just ignore them and ask yourself: “What is it that I feel right now?”
You’ll start noticing that the many thoughts that go through your head on a continuous basis, won’t be so intense anymore. You literally start creating space in between all of your thoughts, and it’s exactly in that void, between your thoughts, where your creativity (your inner child) can be accessed.
2. A picture of you
One of my favourite things to do is to grab an old picture from when I was 4, 5 or 6 years old. Then, just sit down at a place where you won’t be disturbed, and just look at this picture. Can you still feel how you felt at that moment? Excited, silly, happy, curious? What did your days look like? What kind of fantasies and dreams did you have? What did you like the most? Whatever comes up, and without thinking or using any judgements, write this down on a piece of paper. Now just look at yourself, sitting in the chair, 20, 30 or 40-something years later. You’re still this same child. Your body might have changed, and you might have accumulated more experiences, but this little child, with exciting dreams and passions is still there.
3. Heart focused breathing
This is the most powerful step – the heart focused breathing. The healing power of breath has been used over thousands of years already, but seems almost insignificant in our fast paced life with continuous, external stimuli. In this exercise, you will shift your attention (and therefore your energy) to your heart, energetically the most powerful organ in your body.
STEP 1: Focus your attention in the area of your heart. Feel your breath flowing in and out through your lungs, and just breathe a little slower than you normally would.
STEP 2: With each breath, draw in the feelings from your childhood memories and feel them in your heart while breathing.
STEP 3: Set a genuine intent to anchor these memories throughout your day, and use them while working on new ideas and projects.
Please let me know how much fun you had in trying the exercises, and how it changed your perception on your current life. I would love to hear from you. Feel free to follow me on Facebook or on Twitter.