Do you wish you could be more creative but don’t feel that it’s possible for you? Do you feel like you’re blocked from reaching your creative potential but aren’t really sure why? What if you were able to go back and trace the source of that block and heal it, freeing your true creative power and potential?
In this episode, we’ll explore why healing your inner child could be the key to unlocking a new level of creativity in ourselves. You’ll remember your magic, find your spark and get back into flow as I walk you through how you can peel back those onion layers and unlock the pain points that you didn’t even know were holding you back.
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For episode transcripts visit: https://camillafellasarnold.com/category/podcast/
Welcome to Creative Power!
Have you been feeling that shift into more doing as we move through Spring? There’s certainly a reason why it’s called spring cleaning as I am definitely feeling the call to declutter all aspects of my life. I’m not just talking about my physical space either, I’m talking about my mental space too.
There’s all these new exciting ideas and projects popping up and as I spoke about in the last episode, that can also bring up lots of reasons why you shouldn’t do them. Impostor syndrome might be raising its ugly head right now for you. Don’t let it stop you before you’ve even started!
And today I want to talk to you about something else that may be holding you back that you may not even realise is in the way and that is your wounded inner child.
Because the truth is we carry around trauma from our childhood every day whether we are conscious of the fact or not. And it can have a massive impact on your creativity without you even realising.
Think about being a happy-go-lucky child for a minute. What does it represent? You might say freedom from responsibilities, fun, lightness and whimsy. Through the eyes of a child, anything is possible because they view the world in a completely different way to adults.
I remember seeing a post on Twitter a few years ago where someone said their child wanted to be an astronaut. The parent told their daughter that in order to be an astronaut she would need to study hard, go to college, learn science and do a physical fitness test.
In response, her daughter shrugged and said, ‘that’s just four things!’
Just four things. Big things yeah, but still just four things.
And that is how children see the world, with a simplicity we lose as adults. We become burdened by life, responsibilities, seriousness. The world loses its sense of wonder for many of us and we become jaded. It’s completely understandable.
But what if we were able to go back and trace the point where we lost that spark… and heal it? What would that unlock for us?
I think truthfully it’s incomprehensible until you actually live it. Until you experience it for yourself.
When I think back to my childhood, I remember playing. I vividly remember sitting at a table with my grandma when I was about three playing with playdough. I wanted to make an apple tree but it was so top heavy it wouldn’t stand up so we settled on making a picnic basket filled with apples instead.
I remember finger painting, Papier-mâché. I spent hours pinning sequins into polystyrene animal shapes. I wrote and painted and danced and sang with abandon. Everything was within my fingertips. It was all possible.
My garden was a secret world with a magical weeping willow tree in it that could transport me anywhere I wanted to go. I was gutted when the weeping willow was cut down because of what it meant to me. To be honest I’m still sad it had to be cut down because it encapsulated so much magic.
I wished I had a basement because I read a book called Wanted, One Dragon by Beth Webb where a child kept a dragon in their cellar and I wanted to do the same. I remember the animated discussions I had with friends over whether fairies existed after Fairytale: A True Story was released in 1997. FYI I was firmly on the side of fairies being real!
The point I’m trying to make is, being a child, being creative, being imaginative, they’re all inextricably linked to one another. And it’s nothing to do with how old you are, it’s to do with how untamed your mind is. Once we start trying to fit ourselves into boxes and conform to society, when we start being self-conscious and worry about what other people might say or think, we start to lose access to those magical creative powers.
But going back and healing that inner child, healing those memories and giving ourselves permission to play again can reopen that world for us.
I did it myself last year.
Back when I started my coaching qualification I intended to be a writing coach. Of course, it’s opened up massively to all creatives since then but working with writers was my original intention because I had set up my own publishing imprint for book design and production and more and more people were asking for my help with the writing process so hence the coaching training.
In my coaching, I spend a lot of time helping people work out what blocks are in their way. What is really stopping them from reaching that goal? It may not always be pretty to look at but I hold the space as they navigate what comes up and move through it.
More often than not they tell me about an incident that happened when they were a child that shut them off from a certain path. I worked with a client who noted as a child she had a flair for drawing and art until a comment by her father made her feel she had to pursue something more ‘serious’. She put down those paints and didn’t pick them up for decades and couldn’t find any satisfaction in the corporate world she found herself in.
As I coached many people like this, I started to question myself.
Because the first place I start with people who want to find their spark and passion is to ask them what they loved doing as a child. Where did they lose hours, what were they doing? Those memories provide crucial clues and always move people into a headspace of wonder, excitement and possibility.
For myself, I already knew that my main creative outlet as a child had been writing. Books, stories, loved it. Over the years I’d had ideas for stories but never written anything creatively. And so many people have asked me why haven’t I written a book and honestly, I couldn’t give them an answer. I didn’t know why.
But with my new skills in coaching, I decided I was ready to find out and I began coaching myself. So I started digging into my childhood memories. I’ll be honest, it was hard because much of it I have forgotten due to various traumas such as bullying and my parent’s divorce.
Or perhaps we think we’ve forgotten but actually, we’ve put it in a box in the back of our minds because it’s just too painful to look at…
So I started with things I did remember like bullying. Mean comments at school that made me feel not good enough. I began to heal those wounds and as I did, it unlocked other memories that I was now able to face and work through. I kept doing this until the motherlode of a memory unlocked in my head.
I was about 8 years old and a relative came to visit. I showed them my latest and greatest story. A 12 page illustrated tale called The Princess and The Orb. I’m a fantasy writer at heart if you couldn’t tell.
They read it and I was on tenterhooks waiting for a verdict.
They then said in that nonchalant, sarcastic but trying to be funny way that adults do, ‘well it’s not Lord of the Rings’.
I love epic fantasy. The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings were the ultimate magical worlds for me at that age. So this one comment said in an offhand way, completely crushed me because I heard something completely different to what my relative said.
What I heard was, ‘you’ll never write anything as good as Lord of the Rings so why bother trying?’
What the relative was actually trying to say to me was… ‘I can see what you’re reaching for here. I’m going to mention a famous point of reference to indicate that I am understanding where you’re coming from and what you’re aiming for’.
Of course, as a child the nuanced meaning of their comment was lost on me and I heard it as a personal rejection. Consequently, I shut down my dream of being a full-time author and didn’t write a damn thing for fun for about 25 years. The only writing I did was for my work, writing social media posts, blog posts etc. That was the extent.
Deep down I yearned for more but I couldn’t remember why I didn’t feel allowed to access it. This is what we do when it’s painful and traumatic. We put it in a box and bury it so deep we can forget it’s even there. And yet we then feel blocked from doing something at a later date and can’t work out why it’s a struggle.
This is why I feel healing your inner child can unlock so much forgotten and unaccessed potential and creativity within you, beyond our current comprehension.
I’m very lucky that I had plenty of coaching and subconscious tools at my disposal to clean up that memory and reframe it so it didn’t hinder me anymore. Within weeks I was writing like I was running out of time. Simply couldn’t stop. Poetry was pouring out. I’ve written a chapter for a book that is coming out next month. I’m writing my own book on creative archetypes.
Yes, fiction will come later for me. The point is, I’m in action writing and have unlocked inspired ideas and new levels of creativity for myself that I didn’t even know were possible.
And I really want the same for you. Because honestly, this world can be heavy. We need more whimsy, more lightheartedness and fun. We need more magic! And the best place to generate magic is within ourselves.
In fact, it’s not even generating magic. We ARE magic. It is REMEMBERING your magic. Because we are essentially made of stars. Every atom in the human body is made from elements forged in the centre of a star. How is that for pretty magical?
So how can you heal your inner child?
Before you even start, it’s important to acknowledge this is a process. There’s no instantaneous fix and we can’t wave a magic wand (yet!) to make it all go away immediately. Think of it like peeling an onion, there are layers upon layers and we’re just starting with the outside. And as you peel a layer, a new layer gets revealed. In short, strap yourself in and be prepared for it to take time!
Think about what the issue is that you’re trying to resolve. For me, I was wondering what was blocking my writing so I followed that thread back and found the 101 places where people had made me feel like I was not good enough.
So what is it about the thing you’re trying to do right now, what feeling are you battling with? Is it feelings of inadequacy or perhaps it’s fear, anger, sadness, humiliation… give yourself permission to feel that way because even if it seems unfounded or coming from seemingly nowhere, chances are it’s an echo of a time where you DID feel fearful, angry, humiliated etc. Your brain has found that original situation and overlaid that accompanying emotion onto your new project or situation.
In short, you are not crazy! This is what the brain does. When making decisions your brain, your ego looks for what happened last time. Totally normal. Only sometimes if you’re doing something different and it doesn’t know what happened last time because this is new, your brain will make its best guess as to what it thinks might happen and here you are feeling humiliated about dropping ice cream down your t-shirt or angry that Sally stole your favourite gel pen all over again.
So let those memories come up because evidently, they’re on the surface. All those times someone made you feel small or insignificant. All those times you thought you weren’t allowed to do something.
Feel free to journal on this if you feel inclined. Create a safe, quiet space for yourself. Make it cosy with blankets and hot chocolate and fluffy cushions and write out those memories in great detail In journal therapy we call this exercise captured moments.
And when I say great detail, I really mean it. Start at the very beginning of the scene, can you go back farther? Where were you? What were you wearing? Did the breeze feel cool on your skin? Paint the picture in minute detail, you will be surprised what details actually come back to you as you do this. In doing so, it brings all these fragments together in your head and turns them into one long sequence in your memory. Kind of like how we defrag a computer, same thing.
Then when you’ve captured that whole moment, reread it. Reflect on it. How do you feel now? Has writing it all down brought fresh insights? Did it bring up things you had forgotten? What can you do with this information now? Maybe there’s an action you can take like writing a letter or having a conversation with someone to clear things up.
Other actions you could take could be subconscious tools to help release or heal the memory. Or perhaps it’s too big or you simply can’t let go – okay, does that mean you need extra help with it? Who can support you? A friend, therapist or coach like myself? Sometimes all you need is to give yourself permission to breathe out and let it go. Feel into your gut instinct, you’ll know what you need to do. You may not like the answer, but you definitely will know it.
Now, what about those memories that are a bit further away? This is where as I said, it can take time to peel back those onion layers. And it can feel a bit heavy so let’s bring back in some of that childhood magic and excitement.
Cast your mind back to when you were little. Where did you lose yourself? Where did you lose hours at a time? What activity were you doing? What did you love doing that was so much fun, you could have done it forever?
When did you stop doing that thing? Why did you stop doing it? You might like to try those questions as a freewriting exercise because sometimes the answer or memory doesn’t come up immediately. So start writing and keep going. Dig in deep, WHY did you stop? What happened?
You may not have the answer land as you write. It may arrive days or weeks later when you’re doing something completely different. In the meantime, keep on healing those memories that do surface. As I said, you could journal on the whole memory or use subconscious tools or seek help.
One thing that is important to remember though is that you are dealing with your wounded inner child. So treat it as a child in pain. Ask yourself what does your inner child need? Maybe they need reassurance or soothing. Perhaps they want a hug or permission to go play. Start talking to your inner child and see what it wants and needs. The answers can be surprisingly insightful and also… really simple.
My inner child wanted to be told that she didn’t have to write Lord of the Rings because it had already been written. She wanted permission to write whatever she wanted for her own enjoyment.
Perhaps your inner child wants to do some finger painting or roll down a hill. Maybe it’s having an ice cream covered in sprinkles and strawberry sauce. Or perhaps it’s building your own sofa fort so you can sit inside and read.
We spend an awful lot of our time being serious and I don’t think it really makes anyone happy. So allow yourself some silly time. Sit with your inner child and ask what they need to bring themselves into a space of joy and wonder again. You’ll be so surprised at what working with your inner child can do for your creativity. Don’t forget you can send me a message on Speakpipe to let me know what occurs! I’d love to hear how you and your inner child get on exploring and playing!