One of my most painful memories is a time in elementary school when I felt like some of my classmates I liked very much deserted me.
In my young mind, I interpreted this as my friends deserting me because I was not special enough or pretty enough or good enough.
I didn’t realize it until more recently, but I have carried around the pain of this memory for a long time.
Throughout my life, I have heard people talk about healing and loving the “inner child”, and to be honest, I thought this was all a bit silly.
But recently, as I have thought about this memory of my classmates deserting me, I realize that there is very much a part of me that is a little wounded and vulnerable child who carries around this memory and still feels sometimes like she isn’t good enough or special enough.
Yesterday I was feeling some sadness and anxiety, and I realized that part of it was related to this incident from when I was younger.
So, I decided, I would travel back in time and tell my little self the things I needed to hear way back then.
Now, don’t be concerned. I don’t REALLY think I traveled back in time in a time machine or anything. I just used my imagination, which is something we all have.
I imagined the young Shelly standing on the playground feeling sad, alone, and surrounded by a grey cloud of vulnerability.
In my imagination, I knelt by the sad little me and told her all of the things I would have told her had I actually been there in that moment. I told her how special and magical and beautiful she was.
I told her about all of the amazing gifts she had and how she was going to change the world and how I loved her.
And I can’t explain it, but I could feel something relaxing and healing inside of me, and last night, I slept much better than I have for a while. (This may be unrelated to my little imaginary time travel trip, but it sure felt related).
The point is that all of us, at some point or another, realize that there are probably words that the younger version of ourselves needed to hear but did not hear from teachers, friends, mentors and caregivers.
These lost words can often make us feel vulnerable and cause pain for many years.
Sometimes this is the fault of the people in our lives, but sometimes it is no fault of theirs at all. They just may not have known what we needed to hear at the time.
But WE know what we needed to hear, and we can always use our imagination to travel back in time and say these important words to our younger selves.
What words did the younger you need to hear? How can you say these words to your younger self in a way that is healing to her/him?
One of the greatest things we can do to make the world better is to learn to be kind to ourselves.