This weekend I had a huge revelation. Although I have been making an effort to journal with my inner child and to play with him on a daily basis, I was consciously only interacting with him for a couple hours before ignoring him and continuing on with the rest of my day. It came to be more of a chore even though I really enjoy talking to him. This was because it was demeaning for him to only get a small slice of my attention throughout the day. I was treating him more like a pet that I took out of his cage to go on walks rather than a genuine person.
I most frequently refer to the unconscious as an inner child because childhood for almost everyone is where that crucial ability to connect was severed from the rest of our consciousness. However, it can be equally if not more useful to characterize our emotional world as an ecosystem of thoughts and feelings which coexists within us.*
As adults how we choose to interact with our mecosystem is, I would argue, the most important decision we can make. Are we going to be zookeepers, locking our emotions in a cage for other people to stare at whenever it’s convenient for us? Or will we be zoologists, exploring the natural wild habitat of our inner ecosystem in order to arrive at a mutual benefit?
If you decide to become a wildlife biologist, I should warn you it’s not as easy as opening the door of the cage and proclaiming ‘You’re free!’ Think about it — if you’ve been in a cage your whole life won’t you naturally be scared of leaving that cage? In hindsight I think it was entirely right for me to ease in to the process of listening to my unconscious. Now I have more credibility to make the commitment to listening, empathizing, and negotiating with my child on a consistent basis. To involve him in every decision, to ask for his feedback to the point that it becomes annoying.
That is my goal, and I think the only goal that will truly work.
*NB: Philosopher and host of Freedomain Radio, Stefan Molyneux, is credited for coining the term ‘mecosystem’ to describe the plethora of pre-existing emotional personas we interact with.