Tag Archives: personal experience

Child ProdigyThus far the majority of my previous work has been aimed at recognizing and disarming the dis-empowering effects of our childhood programming. Since my own background was an extreme product of this type of scenario, it seemed an obvious and necessary thing for me to do. It’s natural for us to write about what we need to recognize and repair in our own psyches. But what if we, as parents, had been able and willing to work through most of the pitfalls and crippling self-judgments that metastasize from such a debilitating childhood experience? What if we had a child that had not yet been indoctrinated in the emotional behaviors that would hide our perceived inadequacies circulating beneath our interpersonal rapport creating a matrix of subconscious codependence’s that would superficially assert our effective child-rearing skills in the face of social scrutiny? What if our child was starting out with a virtual clean slate? What elements would be necessary to be consecrated to their forming psyches that would enable them to remain free of our potentially compensatory codependence’s and operate effectively and independently in their blossoming world? I have found seven elements that would have made a dramatic difference in my willingness and ability to face the world with all its potential goals and challenges. I think I can safely assume that many of them would have served as an ample prevention for not only me but for a great many of you who have come from similar backgrounds.

trusting child1 - Interpersonal Trust – One of the most important factors that anyone needs to feel in order to allow themselves to be vulnerable to anyone else is a feeling of trust. This is something that is felt but not necessarily recognized by a child until circumstances and adult behaviors have shown them and hurt them enough to realize that there is a need for physical and emotional self-defense. Children are initially and innately trusting until they are shown differently. For most of us who are already adults, we have been through many painful awakenings and losses of innocence leading us to choose to believe that not all people can be trusted with our welfare. It’s not that people innately are malicious. It’s just that after many experiences through childhood and beyond adults have generally already learned to protect ourselves from the behaviors of others that might leave them feeling hurt or denigrated in some way as an after effect of their interactions with them. It’s much like staying out of the way of moving traffic. If someone inadvertently “hits” us, they’re usually not aware and are usually filled with remorse at their transgression when they realize what they have caused. Often times as adults we are so hyper focused on our own survival and daily activities that we don’t notice children getting in our path of travel. Sometimes, we know that they’re there but don’t allow the time or space to address them. The key to preventing their accidentally being harmed is our becoming aware of their presence in the path of travel and making an effort to be in the moment with them while interacting and attentively listening. Although children don’t consciously recognize it, they can feel our concern and consideration through our attention to them and know that we won’t punish or emotionally assault them simply for getting in the way. When feeling our attention to them in the moment they will begin to trust their interactions with us and feel confident that we have their safety and better interests at heart. We put this into play by accepting how they perceive the world, encourage their own decisions about things that concern them and support their efforts even if those decisions and efforts might run contrary to our own feelings and personal experience…as they often do. If we don’t have interpersonal trust with our children, that means trust going both ways, nothing else will initiate their voluntary vulnerability to us. If they feel that they will get run over in our daily movement around them or punished or ignored when they express their own concerns, no matter how childish, they will never permit themselves to trust us. No trust = no positive rapport.

Childhood Training2 - Validation – How do you feel when someone doesn’t believe you, puts you down for something you feel is important and they don’t or ridicules you for the way you perceive your reality? Pretty bad, right? Are you likely to confide in them again after you’ve been made to feel that your thoughts and feelings are of no importance? Of course not! As adults, we sometimes give others the benefit of the doubt that they might have had hurtful incidents occur in their lives or that they’re currently having challenging experiences that prevent them from seeing or feeling us clearly. As adults most of us have developed the ability to rationalize the details of our interpersonal experiences. Children don’t have that yet. They perceive our actions as being honest and up front. They haven’t had enough life experience to know that there can be extenuating circumstances for other people’s perception and treatment of us. If children feel invalidated, they usually shut down when they’re around us, or, if they’re very resilient, will challenge our perceived disapproval or invalidation of them. To prevent this type of misunderstanding and unintentional invalidation of them it’s imperative that we, at the least, acknowledge that what they are feeling is valid and important. Children are extremely perceptive. If they feel that we are patronizing them, they will perceive us as if we are making fun of them. We must be in earnest in our acknowledgement. They are dead serious. In our response we must also offer as clear of a reflection as we can for what they are confiding in us; first, to help them to develop their language skills in order to be able to convey their conclusions to others in the future and, second, to establish an honest one to one rapport with them so that they can feel that they can expect our acceptance and support for what they feel is important. No one feels good about being ignored or overlooked…least of all children.

super-hero-child3 - Personal Confidence – When children feel that they can trust us and that we assign value to their thoughts and feelings, they begin to develop, not only a confidence that we will support them, but a confidence that their thoughts and feeling processes are effective and can be trusted in their dealings with us and their world. This confirmation will allow them to begin to develop a tendency to rely on Self-Trust rather than the need to solicit excessive external approval through their many new experiences. If we fail to allow them to activate the internal process that enables them to choose between listening to their hearts and soliciting our input for every new experience, we will, effectively, train them to become codependent in their decision making process. Evidence of this failure is present in every child who has been used as an unconscious validation for their insecure parent’s child rearing skills and self-image. The more insecure the parent is, the more likely they are to create a codependency with their children by making them solicit confirmation and validation for every choice they make. This will undermine the child’s opportunity to develop self-reliance and trust in their own judgment. To validate this in our own psyches, all we have to do is examine how many times we have felt the need to solicit external approval for anything that we must make a decision about. This will reveal the extent to which codependency operates in our lives. This can be a very sobering realization for many of us to experience. For children, this is one of the building blocks toward establishing personal accountability in lieu of resorting to blame for personally perceived failures.

Training wheels-14 - Personal Experience – There is an old saying that we don’t learn from our successes but that we learn from our failures. And for many, there is a label for a more intense type of experience that this perspective engenders called tough love. If we are rescued from failure by our parents or loved ones every time we attempt something that could be potentially sobering and enlightening about our personal limitations and the need for our practice to overcome them, we are deprived of a valuable experience that enables us to know how to handle the world when our experiences in it doesn’t measure up to childish and irrational expectations. We can see evidence of this in adolescents who run afoul with the law and are literally bailed out by their parents so they can avoid having to be accountable for their own actions. Parental overprotection is a symptom of their attempt to establish codependency in order to hide their own perceived inadequacies in their parenting skills from themselves and the world. This behavior will create the same need in their children as they grow to become parents.

How we feel about ourselves comes directly from what we experience in life and/or from what we’re told about it by someone with whom we have developed trust. If we are prevented from failure at every turn through our externalizing of that trust, we can never develop the Self-Trust, confidence and self-sufficiency needed to get along in the world independently.

Children's feelings5 - Feeling Recognition -  When we as adults are asked how we feel about a situation or a set of circumstances, it is a poignant reminder that we are part of an equation where our participation almost always has an effect. Sometimes we automatically ask ourselves what we feel but we almost always have to train ourselves into recognizing and assessing our feelings consciously. Children don’t ordinarily focus on their feelings which allows them recognition of them. They more often than not simply react while being unaware of them yet still being affected by them. Their reactions are unconscious as are those of adults before we train ourselves into paying attention and recognizing them. Directing and assisting children toward looking internally develops in them a habit of focusing inward more often than attending and responding to external cues and directions. In our culture, especially now with such an intense focus on material needs and endeavors, it has not been a common practice for us to teach a child to listen to their hearts rather than external promptings. For a child to garner Self-Trust that contributes toward self-direction and self-sufficiency, it is extremely important that they listen to what they feel rather than what their told by parents and elders to feel. Learning to recognize their own feelings gives them the impetus for strengthening their own personal judgment. This, in turn, makes them much more likely to become self-directing. For the parent that wants to garner codependency in order to cloak their perceived inadequacies from being exposed by their child’s independent actions and choices, this is a terrifying prospect, especially, when it is more often than not unconsciously directed.

6 - Intuitive Directing – Our culture is so hyper focused on acknowledging and primarily using our mental concentration and attention that our inner urges often go unrecognized. By most of us our intuition has been essentially relegated to being considered an instinct. In doing so we have rationalized to ourselves that it must be pushed far back into our unconscious through our classification of it as part of our innate animal nature thereby falling under the list of aspects of ourselves which should be denied and thought of as immature. Since we also perceive instinct and intuition as being uncontrollable, they become regarded as aspects of ourselves that we are fearful of and that we feel even more compelled to allow them to remain unacknowledged. What is truly unfortunate is that it is through intuition that we are able to sense the inner urges that allow us to know our spiritual path.

childhood urgesLike feeling recognition, intuitive directing is another capacity that we must hone in our children by, again, encouraging them to feel inside themselves to recognize those inner urges which, ultimately, give them a sense of purpose and direction in their lives as they get older. An example of this is evidenced by observing some children who know what their vocation will be at a very young age and then follow through on the urge to manifest the career of their calling. Recognizing our calling comes from paying attention to our inner urges. Children who are essentially forbidden from acknowledging their inner urges in favor of mental prowess often follow paths in their lives that become eminently unfulfilling.

7 - Self-Accountability – In our observation of people in the media and those surrounding us we have all noticed those who tend to blame others for their circumstances. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “You made me feel…” or “If it weren’t for what you did, I could have…” Acknowledging our part in creating our own circumstances is a trained response. The more unsure we are about our own capacity to handle our life situations, the more likely we are to blame others for our shortcomings. Why might we do this? Because this feeling of being inadequate to handle our life circumstance comes from early training that undermines our ability to trust ourselves and our own judgment. Consider; if we are encouraged to take our cues for our actions and choices from the outside world and never consider our own feelings or opinions, we are trained into believing that the responsibility for them must also reside in the external world. What confirms that scenario is when we observe our parents doing the same thing; crediting someone else for their own circumstances.

Blaming-1There is a huge difference between taking blame and being accountable. Being accountable simply means acknowledging our part in the circumstances contributing to a situation regardless of whether it is something that directly affects us or someone else. It is a recognition of our part in an action or inaction and nothing else. Blame is a different animal. Not only must we take responsibility for what might affect us or someone else, but there is an implied obligation that we must atone or be indebted to someone else until the perceived transgression is accepted by us and then restitution of some sort is given to them. Sometimes restitution is not the motivation for them but the need for our constant indebtedness or subservience to them allowing them power over our lives, actions and direction. For example, if someone acts in a way that makes another feel hard pressed or inconvenienced, the inconvenienced person will issue a reminder of that person’s offense every time they again feel inconvenienced or need to adjust that person’s behavior for their own comfort or benefit. This happens frequently when a child acts in a way that reminds the parent of their perceived inadequacy or neglect in their parenting skills. The child will then feel that it is their obligation to “fix” the parent’s mood or change the parent’s feelings toward them. This puts the child on the defensive and undermines their ability to learn to deal with their parents and the world from a balanced point of accountability.

The balance and recognition involved in instilling a capacity for accountability as opposed to feeling the obligation engendered by blame is a very slippery and subtle dimension to implement in a child let alone to recognize in ourselves. With a parent who has not learned to be accountable or accomplished knowing how, a child is literally doomed to repeat the blame cycle in his family heritage unless that training comes from a source elsewhere than the family. Teaching a child to accept blame is tantamount to instilling shame in a child and thereby short circuits any Self-Trust or confidence they might have the opportunity to develop.

confidence-2Raising a child to be self-directing requires patience, observance and a great deal of inner work that must be accomplished by us as parents before we are able to accurately monitor and guide where a child puts their attention and how self-sufficient they can become in their world as they grow. In a large portion of our family culture this never occurs leaving us and our children to perceive the outer world as the governing and directing authority of where we set our efforts and goals in our daily lives. For any of the above steps to be effective, we must first recognize how our behavior affects our children and how our accountability is vitally necessary for us to do an effective job in helping our children to become self-directing and self-sufficient. Necessarily, we must refrain from molding them into a justification for how we view ourselves.

Prescription-1...if you’re healthy enough to have sex. Really? Have we slipped so far into not listening to our own body that we have to ask an outside authority for permission to indulge in pleasure? What does it mean that we now feel so compelled to rely on others for personal validation?

Our western culture has become obsessed with experts, specialists, licensed professionals and “board approved” authorities. We pay others dearly for bodily assessments, psychotherapy, emotional coaching, career planning, financial and legal advice, dietary recommendations, performance enhancements, chemically extended sexual prowess, tuition for private instruction in career advancement and a whole host of other capacities that we and previous generations used to perform ourselves. Is it just the time that we feel is needed to “educate” ourselves sufficiently enough to be “qualified” to perform tasks for ourselves? Or is there something else that lies beneath the threshold of our Board Certified-1awareness creating fear and apprehension about anything we might choose to do for ourselves that’s not part of a skill or career offered by others and not sanctioned or legalized by some authority or board approval?

One of the factors underlying this obsession is our fear of “making mistakes.” That is, we doubt ourselves so fully that we are not as much vexed by not being able to perform a particular task or function but that we will feel embarrassed when we have to “call someone in” to assess our actions and make “corrections” so we can feel like we’re “back to normal.” But our fear of “making mistakes” goes much deeper than our perceived helplessness and the shame involved in its observation by others. The perceived self-doubt and the feeling of having to consult 404-errorothers comes from an absence of childhood training in assessing ourselves, our situations and our “qualifications” and coming up short in self-assertion and self validation.

Trusting ourselves and our own judgment is a very elusive quality to be able to pinpoint as to the origins of its enabling. For very few of us this confidence may have been innate but for the majority of us it came from building and accumulating experiences in which we performed tasks and received validation from our parents and caretakers for being proficient if not, at the least, competent. The validation comes from our parents and guardians in the form of their allowing and encouraging our personal choices even if they are not in line with what our confidence-2guardians believe are “the right” choices by conforming to their life experiences. Generally, if a parent has confidence in their own value and proficiency, it will be relatively easy for them to acknowledge and encourage their children’s choices without having to impose and have accepted their own values in order to validate their own self worth.

As second factor, and probably the one which has created the most personal damage to our self-image in our process of gaining and maintaining a feeling of competence and personal validation is the media. There is no doubt that there exists a bank of psychologists and sociologists studying the methods in which the retail and service markets could have the most influential effect on us, the general public, to encourage the purchase of their products and services. It is difficult enough navigating our lives in a confident manner after almost or never having received the encouragement that would have enabled our Self-Trust but the media has Mirror mirror on the wall-44taken this handicap one step further. To intensify the effect of this childhood deficiency they have projected an emphasis on us through their assertion that we are not good enough as we are. We need whiter teeth. We need a better education. We need a flashier car, a bigger house, more money, more free time and, most of all, their products and services that will gain the envy and approval of our friends and enemies alike.After receiving little, if not contrary support and discouragement toward building our own self-sufficiency and a self-sustaining life style and compounded by our parents’ inability to allow us to make our own decisions without appeasing their need for our actions to validate and accommodate their approach to life, we’re now hit with advertisements that only bring our learned perceived shame and incompetence directly to the surface of our awareness and potentially for all to see. Now, we’re petrified of exposure. We do all we can to hide our “imperfections.” In the face of the media and its diminished projected standards for us, we begin to believe that we are less than and that others, our parents, caretakers and the media, know better than we about our own lives and personal experiences. After all, if the outside world says it’s true, and they’re only an extension of our parental authority, then it must be true. So why do we believe that we must have others perform the tasks that we used to perform for ourselves? Because we’ve been taught to believe that we are incompetent and need the assistance of others to bring us to a state of being acceptable.

In deference to some of us who are not fully “in the bag” by believing that we are “imperfect” or even incompetent, and there are a few of us who have retrained ourselves and reprogrammed enough of a competent and self-sufficient self-image through long and hard work on ourselves, a third factor encourages us to seek outside assistance. In our very busy and filled up world there are tasks that we neither have the time to fix nor the opportunity to learn how to better manage. Even then we feel we have to “call in the experts.”

Obey-TV-BRAINWASHING-1So, is it any wonder that most of us have been brainwashed so badly that we have to ask our family doctor if we’re even allowed to seek pleasure for ourselves let alone if we are able or “competent” to do so?Our ability to listen to our own body and our faith in our own judgment has been so thoroughly stamped out under the threat of disapproval, excommunication and the withholding of any support or affection that we now believe that our fate and prosperity rests solely on the approval of those to whom we’ve assigned authority over us and our personal accountability to on the chance that we might make a mistake and expose our imperfections. What’s so ironic is that we all make what we perceive as mistakes. We’re human. It’s inevitable. Then, how is it that we have accepted training that says it is possible not to make mistakes? And what is a mistake anyway but the unmet expectation of those to whom we have assigned authority over us?

There is no one at fault for programming us in this way. Generally, our parents and caretakers did the best they could with what they understood about their own validity as adults. They have also become a victim of poisoned media thinking that perfection is possible, so, now, they naturally expect it of us; their children. And if we’re not perfect like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Ozzie & HarrietKnows Best and the TV portrayals of all the other nightly family situational serials from the 50s and 60s (we now call them sitcoms but they we’re deemed funny then) then there must be something inadequate with our parents’ child-rearing abilities; aka, they must feel left to assume that they are incompetent parents. Now, let me ask you. If you feel discouraged about your own competence and validity as a parent, are you going to be able to encourage your children to be independent and competent, especially, if you no longer know how that feels? Of course not. You’re going to instill the same fear of imperfection and making “mistakes” in them. And so it goes on and on. And now we hear an echo from the bible, and probably many other scriptures, saying, “The sins of the father (and mother) become the sins of their sons (and daughters).”

There are many ways to regain our personal power and Self-Trust. There’s not enough space to go into them all in a small article let alone the time. But in our first steps toward redeeming them it’s extremely important to recognize and understand why and how we have given away our power and Self-Trust in order that we may remain in a feeling that we belong, to feel that we are acceptable, even with all our abhorrent imperfections and that if we follow all the rules and Courage-Cat-Liondo what we’re told, we won’t be called out, exposed, withheld from, excommunicated or deserted. What a terrible price to pay for the illusion of being loved and the elusive security of belonging. The courage we can show in trusting ourselves and risking the exposure and possible disapproval of our personal expression and individuality while allowing others to have the choice to reject them are some of our most important components of loving ourselves and the world…as it is.