Recently one of my clients used the term “wayward children” to describe the thoughts clamoring for attention when she was trying to focus on something else or to sit in silence.
I really appreciated that term because for me it was the perfect description for the feelings of overwhelm and chaos that arise from trying to chase down all those thoughts and worries and to corral them into some semblance of conformity.
It’s like trying to get a bunch of 3-4 year olds to sit down and pay attention when a thunderstorm is coming. All that outside activity ramps up our insides! Yet, if we sit and invite these wayward children of our imagination to come and join us and tell us what they are worried about or why they feel so out of control we can learn more about our inner landscape.
Lately, my wayward children have been wearing the “not enough” uniforms. They are running around waving red flags and shouting “Not Enough”…and the list of fill-in-the-blank answers is long.
money, time, romance, entertainment, exercise, goodness, world peace, clean water, safety for children, understanding of different life paths, food, empowerment for oppressed people……….
Good heavens, those kids get rowdy!
And, what I have learned over the past few years is that just like flesh-and-blood children, these wayward children of the psyche just want some love and attention and reassurance. Sometimes a bit of acknowledgement followed by “planned ignoring” is enough. Sort of like saying, “Yes, I see that you’re concerned, but I promise there is nothing to worry about.” However, when the red flags are still flying after this step, I know that it’s time to sit down and invite them into my lap, my arms, and my heart to listen deeply to the fears that my shadow is revealing.
With patience and love, I listen to their/my worries. I look deeply to determine what the true fear is and where it comes from within my own history. I do my best to show these children of my soul that I love and appreciate their messages and honor their concerns, AND I remind them that everything has turned out ok so far, and there is every reason to expect that all is well. I give them the time to speak; then I put on my grown-up voice and tell them that we’re going to be just fine.
And, we always are!
So, the next time your Wayward Children of the Psyche get riled up, try sitting with them instead of trying to shut them down. Listen and open up and love these shadow selves and know that they are part of you, they really do want to keep you safe, and that you have the power to acknowledge their fears without giving into playing them out.