Unbeknownst to us during our childhood, our subconscious mind is being formed.
While we are developing in childhood, we are learning countless behaviors and habits such as how to process emotions, how to defend boundaries, what relationships look like, etc.
In an ideal world, we would all be born to fully self-actualized parents who allow us to grow and be heard and seen as the individuals we are. But we live in a culture that that does not stress conscious awareness. As a result, we are born to unconscious parents; meaning our parents are bringing their own sets of insecurities and pathologies to the relationship they have with us as their children.
Parents who are unconscious are repeating the behaviors and patterns they learned in childhood. They’re operating from a baseline of unprocessed emotions and wounds they often don’t even realize are there.
It’s important to understand that parents are only capable of parenting from their own level of awareness.
The truth is, we can only give others what we have practiced giving ourselves.
I’ve come to notice most of the clients I see are seeking help for “communication issues” in their relationships, “finding themselves” (“who am I really?”), low self-worth, or destructive behaviors such as emotional reactivity or addictive behaviors.
In many ways, these are really the same horse, simply different colors. Meaning that these are all conditioned behaviors practiced since childhood.
You might be thinking, “Oh great. If I’ve learned and practiced all this since childhood, I must be screwed.”
Most of us tend to be defensive or protective around our childhood experiences. As adults, we can choose to heal and choose different behaviors, no matter what we experienced as children.
We can reparent ourselves by giving ourselves what we didn’t receive in childhood.
In adulthood, we get a clearer picture of the negative manifestations of our childhood. We come to notice patterns such as an inability to set (or keep) boundaries, out of control spending (or drinking, eating, or substance abuse), or an inability to maintain long term relationships.
Discovering these things can be a total game changer.
Now’s the time to do the best we can with our own evolved level of consciousness.
Anyone can begin the reparenting process. It takes patience and commitment and there’s no quick fix, but if you show up every day – you’ll allow yourself the ability to forgive and heal.
There are four pillars of focus for reparenting ourselves. They are discipline, joy, emotional regulation, and self-care.
Depending on your childhood, some of these are more difficult than others. There are five steps for beginning the process that might help (and we go into much more depth on how to engage in these in session). But here’s an outline:
- Breathe. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Don’t try to do too much at once and keep in mind long term behavioral change does not happen overnight.
- Make (and keep) one small promise to yourself every day. This should be something super small. Try not to choose anything that takes more than 10 minutes.
- Share with someone you trust (other than your parents) that you’re beginning this process. Sharing this with your parents could be hurtful to them. Remember, they did the best they could. Sharing with a partner or close friend and asking them for support might be the better way to go.
- Come up with a Mantra such as: “What can I give myself right now?” When strong emotions show up, this mantra can be helpful in giving ourselves what we needed in childhood, but never got.
- Celebrate Success. Acknowledge the courage it takes to identify your wounds and give yourself credit for showing up. This is work for your soul. Try and celebrate the person you’re becoming and let go of berating yourself for the things you want to let go of.