The Power of Positive Thinking: Protect your Inner Child

Because I was blindsided by my divorce, my self esteem and inner child took a traumatic hit.  Inner child might be an elusive term for some, but bottom line our “inner child” represents our innocence, our sense of wonder, joy, sensitivity and playfulness. As we grow older we earn the title of adult when we acknowledge, accept and take responsibility for loving our inner child.  I don’t believe we truly “grow up.”

You have to protect that inner child.  Strangely enough I had another poetic dream in which I got a lot of insight.

I was sitting in a dim lighted bar.  I was drinking and my companions were ugly versions of my adult self.  One of my companions was fat with an affliction of severe acne.  Another had dark hair that was untamed and his arm pit stains glowed like a green neon sign.

The third looked withered and near death.  His appearance looked like he had suffered from a long and tough famine, just skin and bone with dark circles around his eyes.

They all laughed when I finished my story of how I lost the love of my life to someone else.

Their laughter shook the walls and the rhythmic pounding of their fist on the bar’s counter bounced the glasses into a dance.

“Well no wonder! Look at you! You look like a ghost,” said the fat one as he rocked back and forth in his chair with laughter.

“I bet this NEW MAN isn’t boring like you are! Your personality is flat! You think too much and you’re all business. She wanted fun! She wanted to feel ALIVE!,” said the dark haired one.

“I bet she forgets all about you when they are making love.  I bet he is better in every way and that’s why she’s never looking back.  You only live once, never settle down with a bore like you.  He’s probably hung like horse too.” said the skinny one.

I laughed with them, although uneasily and I agreed with them as I took a drink.

The door to the outside flings open and the light blinds the bar’s patrons.  They groan as they squint.  A small boy enters the bar.  He is crying.  He has blonde hair and fair skin with blue eyes.  He runs towards me and hugs my leg, burying his face into the side of my leg.

“What’s wrong boy?” I said.

“She doesn’t want to play with me anymore,” the boy said as his hiccups and sobs interrupted his speech.

“Why doesn’t she want to play with you anymore? Did you do something mean?” I said.

“No.  She said my toys are boring and that she doesn’t like me anymore.  She said this other boy had better toys and is more fun and that… and that… and that she doesn’t want to play with me or be friends with me. Ever. Ever. Ever. Again,” the boy said.

“Well, sounds like she’s a mean girl to me.  Why were you hanging out with her anyway?”

“She was always nice.  She was fun.  I liked her a lot. I don’t know why she got mean,” the boy said.

“Don’t cry over a mean girl.  Find new friends who don’t treat you like that.  Geez, it’s that easy.” I said with impatience.

“Why was she so mean?” the boy said.

“Doesn’t matter! Life is short! Keep friends who are nice to you, not mean.  Aren’t there other kids on the playground?”

“Yes,” the boy said in a fit of sniffles as he clears away the tears from his face.

My ugly companions began to laugh.

“Well, well, well, well, well. Looks like we have two lame whiners. The boy cries like a girl! No wonder his friend left him! He’s too sensitive and takes life too seriously.  Hey boy! Did you look at your toy airplane and speak of its wonder? Did you tell her your dreams and how you hoped to be a pilot one day? It was all about you uh?  Did you even share?” said the fat one.

“Yes,” the boy responded.

“Lair! You’re not remembering it right.  Ha Ha Ha! The boy is stupid too! Doesn’t have a memory! His mind is fickle and unreliable! The girl chose right! She left you because you’re no fun! I bet this new boy friend has bigger toys and bigger delights!” he responded.

“She said I was her friend yesterday and the day before. I don’t understand,” the boy said defensively.

“Ha ha ha ha! She is no friend boy. You’re lame, plan and simple.  Look, the boy needs to learn that the world is cruel.  It’s full of mean boys and girls! Tell him to stop being a baby!  He’s pathetic! Kick ‘em out.  Stop consoling him.  The world needs tough love.  The boy needs to suffer! It’s a world of hunters and the hunted.  He needs to learn to be a hunter, a taker rather than a giver. Kick him outside! Tough love is in order,” said the deathly skinny pale companion.

“Okay guys… enough.  He’s just a boy! He is young! He has so much to live for and I think it’s honorable to protect his innocence, his sense of wonder, we need to give him hope that there will be more joy in his life, sensitivity is good and playfulness is essential in a fulfilling life.  We need to give him the tools to be successful and happy. I think protecting him in this moment will help. Just because a friend rejected him doesn’t mean you take away his potential for a happy and fulfilling life! After all, he loved this friend. He would be friends with her today if he could! This boy needs comfort and to be told that life will be okay because he can find a new friend that is not mean or cruel or gets bored too easily!” I said.

The fat companion left his leg and let out a loud fart and said,  “Well that’s what I think about all that!”

My ugly companions laughed. The glasses on the bar began to dance again.

I bent down and grabbed the boy’s face.  I said, “Okay boy, I’m going to count to one hundred and I want you to hide.  This is a game of hide and seek.  Do you know what that is?”

The boy nodded that he understood.

“Okay, go!”

The boy ran outside and let in the sun’s rays.  The sun made my companions groan as their eyes tried to adjust.  The door closed and darkness eased their eyes again.

My companions continued their laughs and cruel jokes.

“Enough!” I said with tight fist.

They laughed and continued on their degrading stand ups.

I picked up a chair and broke it over the skinny companion. His bones broke just as the chair did.  I picked up the leg of the chair.  It was a stake.  I looked to the dark haired companion like a vampire.  I was the hunter.  I drove the stake into his heart.  He let out a yelp. Blood covers the bar.

I turn to the fat one.  He pleads. I broke a bottle to give it a shiv like deadliness.  I slashed his throat.

The room is silent.

“No more jokes?” I asked to my lifeless companions.

I left the bar and enter into the sun’s rays.  It is beautiful!  The sky is blue and the birds sing their passionate songs.  I looked for the boy in the playground.  I looked in the tunnels, the slide, the swings, behind a tree, in a bush and found nothing.

“This boy is clever.”  I thought.

I looked to the bar entrance.  He hide behind the door.  He knew if I exit the bar, I might overlook the first place I past.

“Hey you! I found you!” I ran towards the boy.

He laughed and began to run towards me.

I bent down and embraced him.  He laughed in my ear and I patted his back.

The boy became smaller and smaller in my arms and he entered into my chest, like witchcraft or a possession.

I was left there hugging myself.  I stood up in confusion.  The boy was me.  My inner child.  I was defending him against the negative thoughts I told myself, to hurt myself.


This dream really showed me that I needed to protect my inner child from my own negative thoughts.

Jane E. Brody wrote a great article in the New York Times regarding how positive thinking can improve your health.  It is a skill that is developed.  Here are some of those tips I’ve adopted in my every day life to protect my inner child:

  • Recognize a positive event each day
  • Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
  • Start a daily gratitude list
  • List your personal strengths and note your progress
  • Report minor stress and lists ways to reappraise the event in a more positive light
  • Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily
  • Practice mindfulness, focus on the here and now rather than the past or future.

Some days when my grief is strong, my strength comes from the idea that “yes, it was a tough day— but I’m closer to being healed.”


The Benefits of Grief

Grief has become my dark passenger.  It comes in different forms: anger, denial,  guilt, and depression.  It chooses when to show itself and when to take hold of my mind.

I picture Grief as a specter, dressed in a black garment while a dark mist sits at its feet.  The air becomes thin the closer it gets to me. There are moments when I feel my sorrow wailing up inside of me, when I can feel the deepening sadness grow.

At times Griefs sits in my peripherals staring at me, motionless, as if he was analyzing and waiting to exploit a moment of vulnerability.

Other times there are no signs that Grief is present only to reveal itself suddenly like an assassin.   I’ve cried spontaneously not knowing what triggered it.  The event is random, almost like a sneeze.  Even when I’m in the refuge of friends, family, and laughter Grief will suddenly appear and choke me. When this happens I try my best to mask my pain, as if I have an embarrassing affliction and wish to hide it from the world.

I fear sleep now and then.  It’s as if I’m entering a haunted house.  I will wake up with a fast beating heart, fueled by the burning coals of Grief’s anger.  I breath fire and curse Anna’s name. The pain is suffocating at times because I have no emotional regulation.  My heart is an midst of a storm, like a sailor struggling against the elements on the open seas.

But surprisingly, Grief has secondary effects that I couldn’t predict.  This suffering has awaken a sobering maturity that was lacking.

I begin to cry during beautiful scenes that are nice, compassionate, charming, or when people demonstrate a great deal of grace and forgiveness.  Life is tougher than it used to be and those tears are a reminder of what I value and long for… more than ever: compassion, the good, and love.

Because in reality, life is not always like that in the context of life’s ugliness. People will disappoint you.  Relationships end almost unexpectedly and without much reason. Finding love, compassion, and forgiveness can feel like an elusive utopia, a dream never to be obtained.  That is why when we see a glimpse of that we react, because we are all too often denied those very things.

So in strange way, I guess I can thank Grief for this new found appreciation for the good and grace in people.  If you process your grief you will be better for it.

“When you’re not afraid of grief, you will make better choices.  And when you make better choices, you will have happier relationships with healthier people.” –Susan J. Elliott



The Bus Dream

The bus had windows that fell from the ceiling to the floor.  It provided a 360 degree view of the outside world.  The bus had every seat filled and had human obstacles blocking the path for an easy exit.

The noise of the passengers was deafening.  I was traveling with my wife, Anna and  I was the one who was carrying all of our luggage.  Without warning, Anna ran towards the front of the bus for the exit.  She weaved through the passengers like a snake chasing a mouse through a field.  I tried to follow her, but the bus’s isles were too narrow to pass through as I tried to carry our bags.

The bus driver closed the door and began to drive. I screamed, “Stop! Stop! Stop the bus! My wife just got off the bus!” The noise of the bus drowned out my pleas and screams.

I gave up hope and sat back down in my seat.  My heart sank in my chest. I was afraid. Time past and I began to fall asleep.  I woke up to passengers stealing my bags and making their way off the bus.  I ran after them.  I left what few possessions I had behind. I looked down the sidewalk and saw the thieves running quickly away from me.

I sprinted after them.

No matter how fast I ran, their outlines became smaller and smaller.

I gave up.

I couldn’t breath and my legs burned.  I rested my hands on my knees and my back was bent forward towards the ground.  I wheezed.

I walked back to where the bus was located.  It was gone and what few remaining possessions I had were lost.  I walked to a bench and sat down with grief and heartbreak.  The lump in my throat chocked me.  My eyes swelled then burst with tears.  My wails and cries were uncontrollable.  There were many bystanders walking around me, but they did not react or noticed.  The world was with me, but the world didn’t see me.

Time passed.  The tears and cries were controlled, but there was a hole in my chest were my heart once rest.  A new bus pulled up.  I stood up and walked up to the opened door.

“Where is this bus going?”

“Doesn’t matter,” the driver said.

Inside the bus it was quiet with only two passengers– one sat in the front and the other in the back.  The bus’s doors closed and I made my way to the middle of the aisle and sat near the window.  The bus began to move.  Where ever this bus goes, I’m here and there’s nothing I can do about what has happened.  I’ll do my best to enjoy the ride and reflect.

This dream hit me pretty hard.  Anna left me when I least expected it. At the time, I was away in a different state on military orders— I was helpless. She expressed to me that she had fallen in love with another man and her heart no longer felt anything for me.

I felt abandoned and alone.  I felt I lost everything and I had no control of what happened. I was blindsided.  I loved being married.

This dream manifested all my emotions in a very poetic scene.

It was the first step in moving to accepting my new reality and understand that this event was irreversible and would forever change my life and throw my future into absolute uncertainity. An identity crisis followed.

My childhood dreams of being a one woman kind of man, to never experience divorce, and have a family of my own was shattered. My identity and purpose has been temporarily lost.

I am a broken man. But there are tools to heal a broken heart.

*This was ground zero of my emotional journey *