Working in a prison is an eye opening experience on many levels. You get to hear stories of pain and struggle. You become aware that trauma runs deep, and negative behaviors are often a result of years of attachment issues, substance abuse, neglect, and physical and emotional abuse. You begin to see the inner child as opposed to the offender sitting before you. The label of their crime removed, you see a boy who never stood a chance in this world. A boy who was sexually abused, pimped out, forced to sell drugs, and physically beat.
I recently started a project with the offender population where I asked “If you could tell your younger self-something, what would you say?” The responses were moving. This project inspired me to tell my younger self something as well (My message is written on the notecard above).
Growing up we learned to cope the best way we knew how. Our narratives were formed based on what we experienced and what others believed about us. When we made mistakes, we were insanely hard on ourselves. You could pretty much say, we navigated a bumpy road with no shock absorbers.
Telling your younger self something gives you permission to forgive yourself. It sends your inner child love and grace. You can’t change your past, but you can accept it (radical acceptance at its finest).
I invite you to try this technique out for yourself. You can use a notecard or regular piece of paper. Write on one side, “If you could tell your younger self-something, what would you say?” On the other side, write your responses. If you feel courageous and want to share it on social media, snap a picture and tag @courageously.u in it. I will share it in my stories.
Remember courage is contagious, so let’s spread it around.