Welcome back to our journey, following along with Kevin Schoeninger’s weekly messages in Spiritual Growth Monthly.
This week Kevin explores the idea that a younger version of ourselves, commonly called our inner child, still holds keys to what really matters to us in life. He asks us the question, “What is your strongest desire in your life right now?”
I’ve encountered some form or other of that question for years, especially if I’m about to embark on any sort of new venture or considering a change in location or career. Sometimes it is phrased as “what do you really want in your life?”
So, I asked myself the question again. And again, I had to admit that I don’t really know. That wasn’t the immediate answer, of course. “I don’t know” is what I wind up with after I’ve gone through all the soul searching and possibilities I can see.
One thing I have learned about myself is that I am not very good at making choices. My answer to either or questions is usually, “yes.” I tend to buy five pairs of the same shoe, in different colors. When faced with the question of what I really want in my life, right now, or at any time, I still run into a wall. Because I usually want two conflicting things at the same time, like wanting to eat ice cream but also be thin. Or be close to someone, but also independent. One thing always has to be relinquished to hold on to something else.
By this time in my life, I can look back and see that I have gone to at least some of where my childhood dreams wanted to take me. If I have gained any wisdom or maturity, it’s that I learned to stop blaming other people or circumstances for holding me back. The paths I didn’t follow were not really closed by external obstacles. Sometimes to do something that matters to us, we choose to go somewhere different from our dreams.
Eventually, we may find that what we really want is more about the kind of person we want to be, and not an occupation or meeting some exterior goal. And the person we want to be may be someone unafraid to follow unexpected paths.
So what happens to our inner guidance when life hands us different choices than we ever expected to make? For one thing, I believe it lets us know we are in the place where we should be. For instance, when you choose people over ambition, or truth over an easy way out.
Dr. Wayne Dyer has said, “If you have the choice between being kind or being right, choose to be kind.” And when we do, we realize in our hearts that being kind really is more important to us than being the smartest kid in the room.
Facing our inner child.
I was glad Kevin noted our inner child can be a mixture of any of the four types mentioned in Inna Segal’s book, “The Secret of Life Balance: The Essential Guide to Life’s Big Questions,” if no one version fits the bill. Mine appears to be a mongrel, whose biggest desire was probably to leave childhood behind.
For some of us, it is not a comfortable process to look back too deeply. Of course, in the 1950s taking photographs was a more cumbersome process than it is today. Photos look posed and stiff…special occasions in scratchy, uncomfortable clothes. Memories can be scratchy too, but they are evidence we still have work to do.
As an only child, much of my early life existed in my imagination. One lesson of growing up was learning to discern the dreams and wishes that could come true from the ones that never would. No amount of happy thoughts would ever teach me to fly, no matter what Mary Martin said while playing Peter Pan.
But the seed of deep desires stays with us, I have found, and the universe doesn’t forget. The dreams I had at age seven of growing up and working in the theatre, for example, may not have panned out as I originally envisioned them. But here I am in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, working for a community theatre, in a place where my family needs me to be.
What my inner guidance system asks of me now is to accept my choices with grace and love, and act on them with integrity and strength. Choosing different paths, one at a time, may not fulfill all our desires, but it leaves us with fewer regrets.
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