Have you seen ‘Hector and the Search for happiness’? It’s at the cinema now. Simon Pegg plays a psychiatrist who leaves his hum drum world to go on a worldwide quest to find out what makes people happy.
Hector has a frozen child self, we even see him as a boy at points in the film, alone and sad with his little dog. And indeed before going off on his mad adventure, his life is frozen and filled with control and a nagging lack of fulfillment. This finally bursts out of him in a delightful, comedic and inappropriate rant at one of his clients.
Lately, people’s frozen child selves have been popping up in my sessions a lot.
Paul (all names changed) had a difficult decision to make and all the different parts of him were having a big discussion about it, like they were in a giant boardroom. Should he take this job? There was the responsible part, the self critical one and the practical part all vying for attention telling him what he should do. But when we really listened, his child self was feeling sad and alone softly crying in the corner of a room feeling abandoned. What about what I want?, the boy was whispering in the din. He wanted to keep on exploring play, creativity and developing his other gifts.
When Sophie feels hopeless, scared and isolated we often find a part of her (which is also a memory from childhood) escaping from her angry family by climbing a tree. And in a visualization Becky discovered a 4 year old part of her never able to express itself locked away in a box feeling afraid to speak because her parents really weren’t interested in her, they just wanted her to achieve.
It’s sad. Many of us have these child parts of us frozen in time, abandoned and unable to develop. It might have been because of childhood trauma, abusive or neglectful parents or it can be a whole lot subtler; such as the school that you went to that prized maths over dance or you loved maths but you were dyslexic and nobody knew.
And then you grow up and you think it’s much too late. It’s too late to be a dancer, a mathematician, to eat ice cream and sing or play with your Star Wars lego! You think it’s too late to heal that side of yourself (because you might have to feel some painful emotions or let go of your fear) and anyway, it was a long time ago, those were childish things that you loved.
But what happened to Hector? He gave his boy self a chance for the journey of a lifetime. He faced his fears, his regrets, woke up and felt alive. Most of all, he learned how to feel and realised that true happiness comes from feeling everything. He unlocked his repressed little boy and was able to grow up into a happier, more fulfilled man (who still likes to fly model aeroplanes). He learned how to truly love.
Sometimes it takes a real adventure but often an inner one will do. Paul has now taken the job on a trial basis but has committed to keep listening to his inner boy and let him explore. Sophie is no longer letting her angry family suppress her and keep her hiding up a metaphorical tree, she’s becoming the person she’d always wanted to be, saying and doing things that make her happy. And Becky is letting her little girl out of the box. She’s shy and doesn’t always know what she likes yet but she’s learning; she likes practical jokes on her husband, pop corn and is re-discovering buried interests that may become a future career.
Do you have a child self that’s frozen? All you have to do is close your eyes, breath and set the intention to find him or her. Imagine walking down some stairs and at the bottom is a door. Open the door, behind the door your subconscious will show you whatever image you need to see right now. Don’t worry if you feel silly or like you’re making it up. Just trust. You might see your child self in a garden, or locked away or flying free or see a memory. Then ask that part of you, what do you need to feel more free and happy?
If you like, let me know what she or he says.
My inner little girl likes laughing with friends so that is exactly what I’m off to do.