With all the talk about mental health, I decided to put together a new series about my experiences with therapy. The first aspect of my story, begins with inner child wounds from my time at school, and the ripple effects it had all the way through adulthood.
I hope to encourage more people to step up and take therapy as a lifestyle choice. And NOT something to look down upon. Let’s break the stigma!
DISCLAIMER : These stories aren’t always pleasant and they might trigger the parts of you that want to be healed too. But, I promise they have happy endings. And I hope these endings will inspire you. 🙂
Also, none of this is to disrespect or blame anyone. I am only recounting my experiences as a child, but also discussing how these experiences were healed.
How Schooling Effects Mental Health
My family and I stayed in the United States for a few years. Then, we came back to India, the motherland, once I was in 5th grade.
Growing up, my school life in India really challenged my mental health. While in USA, I was acing my classes, in India I wasn’t even in the top 10 (though yes, Indian classes are much bigger in ratio).
I often missed playing outside because even after school, I’d spend hours in tuition for all the subjects, catching up with the education system. There was a lot of culture shift. I struggled especially because I also had to learn to write Hindi from scratch, several years after other kids were already quite good at it.
Another difference? Getting told-off in Indian schools for my “poor handwriting” or “sloppy diagrams”.
I remember being asked to go home with the class topper’s notes and practice writing like her!
I didn’t realise things like these even mattered, that these qualified for a reproaching, until I started feeling the embarrassment flush in my cheeks for it infront of the whole class.
Uptil this point, I had always been known for my sincerity and diligence, and had never been called-out so blatantly. Never being very sport-oriented to begin with, now, my academic intelligence also came into question.
Inner Child Therapy for School
Recently, in processing my childhood through Inner Child Healing work, I unblocked some strong feelings of incompetency and guilt.
I realized the reason I never cut myself slack after growing up, was because I felt bad for not being able to prove my worth in school. I felt like I needed to work even harder, and that’s what my college and work life saw – grinding, extreme grinding.
My parents never once asked me to do better, but I felt the guilt of not being good enough. I felt like I was letting them down.
Who knew, these thoughts weren’t coming from within me, but from a different source? Overtime, kids start believing the thoughts to be their own. And bam! Down goes their self-esteem.
Infact in 10th grade, right before my Board exams, I had a panic attack and started hyperventilating. I had to be rushed to our physician, and she made us realize that I was overwhelming myself with performance pressure.
Hypnotherapy helped me uncover and heal this guilt, after a decade! I’m also slowly learning to allow myself time to relax and enjoy, and to stop taking life so ambitiously.
How Creativity Helps Mental Health
My creative and artistic side rarely got the encouragement it should have, the way US schools provided kids.
Infact an art teacher scared me to my very core, one year. She seemed crazy, a woman that yelled at us kids for forgetting our art supplies or for not painting as per her standards.
I too, got a LOT of heat from her once, and I became deeply terrified.
There was another rather mean, intimidating dance teacher who often yelled at me in front of other classmates, because I was too shy to dance freely. I probably looked incompetent inspite being trained in the classical dance form, Bharatnatyam!
Inspite studying from an academically sound school, many of the teachers were daunting, and mean to kids except the ones that scored perfect grades (not me). The rest of us were constantly reminded how we’re not good enough.
It never occurred to me to discuss this at home, seeing that this was a culture that everyone faced with me. Don’t get me wrong, there were some really sweet teachers. But there weren’t that many. Nope.
Trying to cope with all this, I missed out small hobbies, like completing my Bharatnatyam Arangetram and even smaller things like watching Harry Potter.
Inner Child Therapy for Creativity
Working on my childhood through therapy taught me to provide myself those experiences now, as a grown up, and to cherish my hobbies even if they are childish sometimes. In otherwords, ‘reparenting’ myself.
Only recently, in August 2019 did I, as a 25 year old adult, watch the Harry Potter series! What a classic.
These have all been tributes to my younger Self. Afterall, don’t we owe it to ourselves to live the quality of life we want to? It’s never too late!
This process is called reparenting. If you’re interested, do look it up (until I can plug in something written myself, haha).
Healing is also how I gained the confidence to dance front-row for my Salsa performance in office. And it was what empowered me to perform a Bharatnatyam-fusion at my engagement, whose video you can watch below.
I didn’t have that kind of confidence growing up. My heart was always pounding even though I had done several stage performances before. But now I do feel relaxed and capable of being carefree while on stage. And I’m proud of myself for coming this far! 🙂
I also continue to expose myself to various art and recreation classes, that keeps my inner child happy and thriving.
Concluding Thoughts on Therapy for Inner Child Healing
I didn’t have any of these memories consciously. To me, I felt like my childhood was rather relaxed and happy.
But when you go into therapy, it turns out, you can uncover a lot of hidden pain that at the end is the reason your personality and choices are the way they are.
For me, spirituality and psychology have been a blend in my healing. They have both equally and substantially provided to my happiness quotient.
As Spirituality teaches us, we may not be responsible for what happens to us, but we alone are accountable for our healing.
So, the best thing that happened to me, was learning how to forgive each and every teacher, because they did teach me a lot, even if it wasn’t the kind of lessons my parents enrolled me for.
Image courtesy : Pixabay, shutterstock