We have to listen to the child we once were, the child who still exists inside us. We can stifle its cries, but we cannot silence its voice. The child we once were is still there. -Paulo Coelho tweet
The undesirable behavior of a child
I was in a small group recently listening to a young woman ask for prayer. She was an elementary school teacher who was dealing with an unruly child in her class. The child’s behavior that week topped anything prior. He actions went beyond disrupting the class. He had said hurtful and inappropriate words to a classmate. In addition to asking prayer for herself, her class and the student, the young teacher asked for prayer for the family. While she didn’t share details, she confided that circumstances in the child’s home were less than ideal. I knew (and perhaps everyone did) the child was acting out in school because he wasn’t getting the nurturing love and acceptance he needed at home.
You are that child – we all are
Generally speaking, you are that child. We all are. Life on this planet is imperfect and full of dysfunction. Even if you grew up with great parents, there would have been a time in your life, whether intentional or not, that you missed the love and acceptance you needed as a child. This is where the root of self-loathing and the resulting undesirable behaviors start to grow.
As adults throughout our daily lives, there will be circumstances that trigger those feelings of being unlovable and unaccepted. For the most part, we have learned as adults not to act out unruly or lash out at others (although it still can happen). Instead, our undesirable behavior takes other avenues. Things like obsession with food, all addictions, and anything you could add to the long list of unwanted behaviors. Interestingly, each and every one of them affects the levels of serotonin in the brain. We don’t want the undesirable behavior or the consequences of it. We want the good feeling the serotonin gives us. The same good feeling that we receive from feeling loved and accepted.
How would you nuture her if you were the mother of the little you? -Kris Carr tweet
Our choice is one between self-abuse or self-love
If we can’t return to childhood and right the wrongs we experienced then what can we do? How do we put a stop to the undesirable behavior (aka self-abuse)? The answer. Reparent ourselves with self-love. Caring for ourselves like a good parent would their child – feeding ourselves nourishing foods, giving ourselves the rest we need, showing grace and compassion when we make a mistake, accepting our feelings without judgment, etc. Self-love is the greatest act of faith you will ever commit. To love who you are at this moment determines the quality of your life. Only faith, which begins with a belief in ourselves, holds power to dissolve any fear and allow for the actions that put us on the path to our dreams.
The power of believing in yourself
In fact, for years, I told myself God loves me, God is for me, God has great plans for me. There were even people in my life that loved and accepted me. And while it’s all true, It didn’t matter because I didn’t believe it myself. And because I didn’t believe I was worthy of love and acceptance as I am (spirit) I would self-abuse. Whether that was not doing things that brought me joy because deep down I didn’t feel worthy of joy or things like beating myself up over something I “should” have done better.
Like me, you will begin the journey of becoming who you were created to be when you take the leap of faith to love and accept yourself. When you love and accept yourself then you will see the undesirable behaviors fade away. Becuase you love yourself and want what’s best for yourself, there will no longer be a need to act out with undesirable behavior.
Grab your journal and spend some time in pondering these questions:
- What is one undesirable behavior that I would like to change?
- How does this behavior connect to my fear of being unloved and unaccepted?
- How can I begin to reparent my inner child (love and accept myself) so that these undesirable behaviors fade away?