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What's the story of the Inner Child Bear?


When I found this picture I had questions, and each question raised another one. I had already decided on Inner Child, it was the obvious choice to me, professional and playful, full of questions, complex, a reference to the search many of us are experiencing, wondering what we've given up, put aside, or traded for our successes, trying to remember what we wanted to be when we were kids and why we didn't end up doing some or all of those things. Possibly noticing how we are now bringing up our children in a different society, one that is more agile, less constrained, with seemingly many more opportunities to be different and make a difference than we had when we were their age. In this way Inner Child as a company name for coaching speaks very much to its more therapeutic roots in its definition of our true or original selves and how much they might be hidden in our adulthood, and knowing this, how to then rediscover what we want to be doing more of and less of, how to decide, and how to make the necessary changes.

Many people I work with are the questioning types, curious, good leaders, successful by their own and by society's measure, but wondering what's next, how to achieve it and why they should take the risk? They are tired but generally content, traveling at a million miles an hour to do everything, be everything, or at least to do more and be more than there seems time in the week to be able to achieve. This picture in every way sums up the contemplation that many people I meet are undergoing; exploring the benefits of slowing down, meditating, practicing mindfulness, sometimes questioning themselves and their capabilities, and occasionally still thinking they might get found out as not being as good as they seem to be, or alternatively wanting to be able to demonstrate to people how much more they have to offer.

So, who's the bear? The coach, the client, the issue at hand?

What are they looking at, or looking for?

What's missing from the scene, and what's the relevance of the chair? If you were looking down at the scene from above, what else would you see?

If this was a photographic snapshot in time, what happened in the moments just before, and what will happen next?

When you see this picture, what reaction do you have? Is it positive, negative, happy, sad, excited, relaxed?

If you could ask one question of the bear, or the person in the bear-onesie, what would it be and why? What answer would you expect, and what answer would surprise you? How old are they and what makes you think that? What life have they led, what are their hopes and dreams, and how will they know when they have achieved them? What is expected of them?

How did they get on the chair, easily and with energy, or slowly and with pain? Are they alone, or are they part of a family, team, or a whole society? What sounds are there going on around them; silence, music, work, traffic, something uplifting, maybe peaceful, or the sounds of nature?

I could keep listing all the questions I have about this picture but it resonated with me, with Inner Child, and with the sorts of questions we often ask in coaching and the bear, whoever or whatever it represents for you, usually has the answers, they just need space, time, safety and a little prompting, sometimes creatively, to find them. This is why people have coaches, and why coaches have coach supervisors, to get support and challenge, to assist in their growth, continued development, and increased awareness, and to be questioned with an open mind, being given no advice and receiving no judgement. The opportunities open to us are immense and the capacity we have to achieve is equally so, however expectations of us are constantly increasing and we are often "online" 24/7 without time or permission to reflect, check ourselves, and make a conscious choice to move in a particular direction.

Sometimes we need to pause, take a step back to think and care for ourselves, sometimes we need friends and family around us, sometimes we just need to get on with it, and sometimes we need an independent person who can help us take the next step. The Inner Child Bear is a reminder to me of this and as such takes an important place in my thinking and approach.