It feels like a drop in the ocean, but ...

... one day I made a bargain with my inner child, Ingenua. She didn't see the point of doing ... well ... anything. It wasn't fun any more, and there were too many scary thoughts going around. So I said, "How about, for every little thing we do that is good for me, we'll give five cents to charity:water? How does that sound?"

And she smiled.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meeting my inner child

Well, the plan has worked in some ways and not others.

I have been doing things I needed to do a little bit more than usual.  But I haven't been writing down my scores and keeping count.  And I definitely haven't been updating this blog every day.  Problem is, if I don't write these things down, they won't count ... because I won't remember how much to donate.

Today I gave in and decided to listen to the experts.  Specifically, Pamela I Young, whom Flylady credits with the original idea of the Inner Brat.  A few weeks ago I ordered her DVD and CD package, Get Your Acts Together and Learn to Know Your Inner Brat.  Of course I'd been procrastinating about using them ... but today was the day.

I settled in with my knitting and put on the Learn to Know Your Inner Brat CD.  I was surprised to find that (like it says on the box) there are only two tracks, which are duplicates, and the whole thing is only about half an hour long.  (I probably should have realised that that is all you can fit on an audio CD.)  I thought it was a program, like the DVD, and I felt for a little while as though it wasn't worth it.

The introduction section was a little long as well.  She describes her search for the cause of her financial problems, after being challenged by a friend to write a humorous book about them.  There is some detail about the six months she took to work out that her Inner Brat, who is about 9 years old, was the cause.  Actually, the useful part doesn't come until more than halfway through the track.

After that, though, it gets more interesting - she goes through the four steps to taming your Inner Brat.  First is the questionnaire to work out whether you have an Inner Brat.  Apparently I was supposed to skip that bit, because I've already worked out that she's in the driving seat.  But it was interesting to listen to anyway ... It didn't only have questions about the negative aspects that identify the Brat, such as hating exercise, being in debt, being disorganised and a mess. There were also questions about the Brat's positive side.  "Do you love animals? Do you like to play?  Do you like to please?  Do you like surprises?  Are you creative?  Are you spontaneous?  Do you like pretty things?  Do you love life in spite of the mess you're in?'

That particular question really spoke to me.  Why do I put up with living in a mess?  It's because I love life anyway, just as a child would.  When it comes to not stressing the petty things ... I just deal with my messy environment and get on with the things I enjoy.  However, there are probably better ways to deal with it!

I also came to realise through this exercise that my particular Inner Brat, is not only worth keeping, but worth loving.  Which is good, because she's a part of me I probably won't be able to get rid of.  And because of that, she can help me to enjoy life, as she always has.  She just needs a bit of direction.

The second step was to name your Inner Brat, and Pamela stressed the importance of this.  I'm not sure why.  But I already had a name for her, so I figured this was a part I could skip as well.  She didn't elaborate on why, though.

Step three was to visually assess the havoc caused by the Inner Brat.  I didn't think this concept was particularly useful.  However she used this step to emphasise the importance of imagination and creativity.  Apparently, if I can imagine living in an organised environment, then I'm a step further ahead on the path towards making it real.  I wasn't sure how Step Three was supposed to link in with this anyway, so I just skipped it.  I spend enough time stressing about the mess here.

However, it was Step Four that I found most useful.  Here, she guides the listener through a meeting with your Inner Brat, using a visual meditation exercise.  I guess that the reason for having this meeting is to emphasise that there needs to be a relationship between you and your brat to make things work.  This was new to me ... until now I'd just been trying to give her orders.  Maybe this would be my chance to have a proper conversation, rather than desparate negotiations.

So, as directed, I visualised a room which I made as pleasant as possible in my own way.  As well as windows, doors, rugs, plants and a fireplace, there was supposed to be a chair for a guest and a chair for me.  I decided on a double-seater sofa for the both of us. 

The biggest surprise came when the time came to visualise Ingenua coming to visit.  So far I only had her name and personality to go by, and there was a recording of a 9-year-old girl's voice in a previous section on the CD that helped a little.  Suddenly there was a little girl in front of me - about 9 to 11 years old ... and she had Smith's hair.

I almost got sidetracked at that point, wondering if our children would look like this ... And of course they won't.  The Asian racial feature of straight black hair is a trait that mixes with other types, so our children's hair will be at least mid-to-dark brown, despite Smith's golden locks and the fact that he was blonde as a child.  Of course the next question was why she had golden hair if she was a part of me, not him.  I wonder if this comes from the fact that I've always envied people with wavy golden hair, like Disney's Sleeping Beauty.  She reminded me of the elf I made for my first DnD game, Magenta:
I'm going to have to draw a picture that looks more like her, sometime.  Anyway, eventually I got over it and moved on.

Now that I think of it, when I was younger I was always surprised when I looked in the mirror, because the girl in the mirror looked nothing like my self-image.  Maybe my self-image looked a little more like Ingenua.

At that point I decided to put down my knitting,  pause the CD and have a proper meeting with Ingenua, before I listened to Pam describing her experience.  However, I wasn't really sure how to go about it.  How do you talk to a nine-year-old?  Pamela has two kids; I haven't spent anywhere near enough time around children. I decided just to wing it.

It went something like this:

Hello, Ingenua.  It's wonderful to finally meet you.  (Pam's advice was to greet your Inner Brat "with the same dignity as you would greet Jesus if you had invited him over."  I decided that I would leave out the bit about being in complete and total awe.)
Come on in!  Have a seat.
I hope you like this room, I made it especially for you.
"Can we stay here forever?"
Ahh, sorry, we've got to go out and do things eventually.  And see people.  You like seeing people, don't you?

... You're so beautiful. (Okay, maybe I forgot to leave out the awe.)

Umm, okay, Ingenua, what do you like about this room?
"It's tidy.  And there are bright colours."
What do you think about making our real place more like this room?
"But Smith wouldn't like it."  (She's afraid of Smith!  Sheesh.  How can anyone be afraid of Smith?  Or maybe she just doesn't want him to disapprove.  )
You don't think he'd like it tidy?
"He doesn't want bright colours."
Are you sure?  Maybe we could ask him sometime.
In the meantime, how about working on making it more tidy?

Ingenua, you know that deal I made with you, where I would donate some money if we did things that were good?
Well, I'm sorry, but I haven't really been sticking to my end, have I?
Well, the thing is, if we're going to stick to it, we have to write it down.  Otherwise we won't remember.
Well, when's a good time to write it down, do you think?
"In the morning."
(I thought about this for a bit.  In theory I'm not supposed to be spending time on media during the daytime.  But maybe I could compromise on this one.)

Anyway, that was the gist of how I spoke with my inner child.  Pretty inadequate, eh, now that I come to write it down.  I've always thought of myself as kindly and gentle, but I've never realised how intimidating I can be when I have an agenda.  I hope that when I have kids, I won't talk to them like that all the time ...

We talked about a couple of other things, like the need for a kitchen, and exercise, and whether it was okay to write all this publically.  She was kind of non-commital after that, I probably scared her off.  And reading back, no wonder ... In the end, when I listened to Pamela's version, it was much more accommodating and loving, and focussed on who her inner child was, rather than what Pamela wanted.  Pamela details all of the joys that her inner child brings to her life, and reassures her that while they have a lot of work to do, it's going to be fun.  She also promises to improve their relationship.  Hopefully I can move along the same way with Ingenua ...

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