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13 Reasons Why The Best Adults Are Those Who Embrace Their Inner Child

13 Reasons Why The Best Adults Are Those Who Embrace Their Inner Child

I love teaching my kids new things. It’s a blast watching them soak up everything they learn. They are like little sponges. Yet, as much as I teach them, at the end of every day I still feel like I’ve learned more from them than they have learned from me.

And here’s why: Kids have life all figured out.

Kids can teach adults how to live our lives better. At some point, years ago, you were likely a child full of wonder, with a passion for learning, and an appreciation of nature. You were probably fun and spontaneous with a great sense of humor.

Then, if you’re like a lot of people, the daily grind of adulthood gradually diminished your inner child. Many adults have lost their love of learning, feel frustration instead of hope, and care so much about what others think that they’re scared to truly come alive and be themselves.

Too many adults have lost their childlike spirit. If you can harness and embrace your inner child, you will likely be a happier, more satisfied adult. Here are 13 reasons why the best adults are those who embrace their inner child:

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1. They are curious

Kids love to learn and are naturally inquisitive. They aren’t afraid to ask questions, and they welcome opportunities to learn about the world. Adults who embrace their inner child have a love for learning. These lifelong learners are continually striving to learn; they seek opportunities to expand their knowledge. They are interested in understanding people and the world. These adults know they don’t have all the answers; they ask questions to gain further insight.

2. They learn something new every day

Every day is a new adventure for a child. From morning until bedtime, there is exploring to do! Adults who embrace their inner child know that growth occurs when they try new things, and agree with the Neale Donald Walsch quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” These adults know that even when it’s scary to try new things, it’s necessary. To avoid becoming stagnant, these adults experiment with making big and little changes to their life; even taking a different route to work, trying a new food, or learning how to do a new physical activity helps prevent them from feeling stuck.

3. They make small things enjoyable

Kids get excited to run errands with adults, help adults cook meals, and be part of family traditions. Even when tasks involve work, they find ways to enjoy participating. Adults who have a childlike mind find ways to make small, day-to-day tasks, enjoyable. They know that having a great attitude makes their to-do lists much more fun to accomplish. Rather than facing life’s responsibilities with dread, they are thankful for the ability to participate in daily routines.

4. They persevere

When a baby learns to walk, he falls, over and over and over again. Yet, when he falls, he doesn’t say “Wow, clearly I’m not cut out for this.” He doesn’t get embarrassed by his “failure.” He doesn’t pout about not being “good enough” to walk. He doesn’t question his purpose; he KNOWS he’s meant to walk. When he falls, he gets up, focuses his eyes ahead, and tries again and again, until he succeeds at walking.

Adults who embrace their inner child know how to persevere. They are resilient and view obstacles as a natural part of life, not as devastating tragedies. They embrace a “How can I?” rather than an “I can’t” mentality; if they are struggling with something, they look at it from different angles and brainstorm other solutions.

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5. They stay active

Kids are active. They run, climb, and jump every day. They are excited to be strong and take full advantage of being fit. Many adults become sedentary during their working years, forgetting the amazing things a healthy body can do. Adults who embrace their inner child strive to be physically active. They know the world is their playground and participate in a variety of physical activities. They appreciate when their bodies are healthy and capable.

6. They are more optimistic

Many kids are naturally optimistic. They believe that good things will happen. While some adults become jaded and pessimistic, adults with childlike optimism have the conviction that things will work out, and they have a positive outlook on life.

7. They see the beauty in nature

Children are awed by the wonders of the world. They notice the breathtaking beauty of sunrises and sunsets. They see the beauty of the leaves on the trees, drops of dew in the morning, and the colors of the rainbow. They cherish bugs and butterflies. Rather than viewing winter storms as inconvenient and frustrating, children see the details in the snowflakes and cherish the opportunities to play outside and build snow forts.

Adults who embrace their child never lose their sense of wonder; they are continually awed by the beauty of nature.

8. They are adaptable

The majority of kids deal pretty well with interruptions, schedule changes, and disappointments. As adults, however, we can become set in our ways. Yet living lives of inflexibility, and trying to control all variables, leads to feeling exasperated.

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Adults who embrace their inner child are flexible. They know that unexpected events will occur, and do not get overwhelmed when they do.

9. They don’t care about what other people think about them

Children don’t have any interest in keeping up with the Joneses. They aren’t materialistic. If they are fed and comfortable, and feel safe and loved, they tend to be pretty content. Somewhere along the way, many adults become self-conscious and insecure. Adults who embrace their inner child continue to have a childlike confidence; they focus their lives on what’s important to them and are able to not let their critics bother them.

10. They dream big

Kids have big dreams, and they don’t think their dreams are unrealistic or weird. At some point, adults feel the pressure of societal norms – to live a certain way, in a certain home, work a certain schedule, and do everything to fit in with others. Too afraid to fail or succeed, they do all they can to avoid standing out from the crowd; they live lives of frustration.

You will be a happier adult if you gives yourself the freedom to dream big like a child. Adulthood is much more satisfying when you let your imagination run wild, without limits, and imagine a life of possibilities, not of restrictions.

11. They are kind to others

Little kids may notice when others are different from them, but they don’t inherently see everything as “my way” or “the wrong way.” They don’t hate others due to differences in race, ethnicity, or religion. They don’t judge people for past mistakes. They care only whether or not people are kind.

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Adults who embrace their inner child know there’s a lot of “gray” in the world, and they don’t see everything as “black and white.” They realize that just because someone sees the world differently, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way to think. They are able to respectfully disagree and avoid making harsh, fear-based judgments. Even when they don’t see eye to eye with others, they treat them with kindness.

12. They aren’t rushed

Children don’t feel stressed about enormous to-do lists. They have a sense of peace and are able to enjoy the present. Kids focus their attention on who they’re with and the current day’s activities; their minds don’t wander to what they “should” be doing. They truly know how to “live in the now” and make the most of every day.

Adults who are children at heart master the ability to enjoy the present, even while working toward goals. Although they are ambitious, they have peace about today and they are able to relax and enjoy being fully engaged and present in the moment.

13. They have more fun

Kids tell random, hilarious jokes. They belly laugh every day. They get the giggles about ridiculous stuff. They really know how to let loose. People with childlike personalities know how to have fun. They enjoy a good laugh, and have a great sense of humor.

Learn to embrace your inner child and you will be a much more satisfied adult.

Living a life full of wonder, appreciation for the small things, humor, kindness, resilience, and big dreams is exactly what your inner child would want you to do.

Featured photo credit: free_flight/Bob Mical via flickr.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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