We hear it all the time, “trust your gut.” But it begs the question, how do you know your gut is the one talking? When you feel paralyzing fear, you probably think it’s your gut…and it might be. When you feel those fireworks after meeting someone new, you may think it’s your gut telling you “this is love” and you could be right. The problem is when you discover that your fear was unfounded or that relationship doesn’t work out, you suddenly start to question your instincts. I assure you, the reason that you don’t trust yourself is not because of the few instances, you were “wrong.” It comes from years of telling that little kid inside that their voice doesn’t matter.

From the moment you are born, you count on other people to guide you, teach you and show you how to navigate through life. You copy their words and their movements, you take on their values and judgments and you grow up within the confines of these parameters. Once you enter school, you are given more instruction, guidelines and structure to become a contributing member of the community. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not an article about how your parents, teachers and society has ruined you. Quite the contrary, you must have a foundation to start. You need to learn everything from people around you in order to exist in a civilized culture. It is important to know about table manners, politeness, expectations and how to fend for yourself. The problem is that during our learning process, we are constantly being denied our desires.

Think of how many times you tell your children NO each day. Here is an example taken from my own life as a Mom, just this week.

Can I play on my iPad?


Can I go barefoot outside?


Can I cross the street?


Can I have coffee?


Can I watch South Park?


I admit that I try not to say no, but it is my responsibility to protect my children and in doing so, I have to nix some of their requests. There are things they want to do, that are not appropriate for their age, not safe for them to do and I’ll admit there are some things that just drive me crazy. For example, they love playing with water outdoors, which for the most part I have no problem with…until they start making pools of mud all of the backyard. I know I should just let them enjoy it, but it makes me nuts and it ruins the grass. So, once things get out of hand, I put a stop to it. Situations like this happen every day, in every home. Moms and Dads everywhere are saying no to things that kids find really fun.

What happens is that their young brains process it as “bad.” They learn that what feels good to them gets them into trouble. I bet you can think of a situation or two of your own growing up that you were doing something you thought was awesome and you were told to stop and maybe even made to feel shameful about it. So the message you receive is that you can’t be trusted. This belief is further confirmed as you go through school. Everyone has an embarrassing story where you were the butt of someone else’s joke. It could be something as simple as wearing a character on your shirt that someone deems “babyish” and suddenly people are asking if you want a diaper change as you walk through the halls. You become paralyzed by fear that you will be targeted. You second guess yourself. You look for approval. You wait for the go-ahead from someone you trust.

All the while, your inner voice is talking to you and you keep telling it to shut up. You get mad at yourself. You berate yourself. You swear that you will never listen again. So you separate from your inner desires and that wounded little kid inside becomes your critical voice. Every time you try to do something new, it questions you. Every time you step outside your comfort zone, it mocks you.

“Who do you think you are?”

“What makes you think you can get what you want?

“Everyone is going to think you’re crazy.”

And so often you listen. You acknowledge all the times you failed. You have no problem admitting that you have no idea what you’re doing and stand firmly in the belief that doing anything “differently” leads to heartbreak and disappointment. But that little kid inside is just saying all those hurtful things to you, to protect themselves from experiencing pain. Imagine a real child, who has been bullied. They turn inward. They try to disappear so they aren’t noticed. They know if they are visible, they will be targeted. But what do they really want? They want to be loved. They want to be accepted. They want their voice to matter.

So how can you help this wounded child inside? Repair your relationship. Make a commitment to them and follow through with your promise. Start small. This isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. It will take time to build that trust. What is it that you want to do more than anything? If you tap into that little kid inside, what is their secret desire? How can you take one tiny step in the direction of that goal? Do they want to be a musician? An artist? A filmmaker? A scientist? Even if your current career choice is completely unconnected, what can you do to bring that level of joy into your life? What if you could make your inner child’s dreams come true? Imagine your inner child as your son or daughter. How would you encourage them? What would you advise them to do to start out?

Only you can repair the relationship with your inner child. Your small steps will accumulate and the trust will begin to build. You will notice that you can ask your inner voice for guidance and it will become louder. The direction will become clearer and your relationship will become stronger. Once you establish this new bond, you will be able to create a life full of peace and joy. Connecting to your innermost desires will align you with manifesting anything you want. Then all you have to do is build your trust with the Universe. But that is a discussion for another day.

Patricia is the creator of the first ever Camp Mom, helping Moms put happiness back on their to-do list while connecting with their inner child. She teaches them to communicate effectively in life and business to create success while building a strong foundation with their family.

Originally published at medium.com