You are not at fault for Your Parents
Posted by igootnick on June 17, 2008
Why is it that when a stranger is unpleasant to us we find it much easier to not accept responsibility and respond with “What’s up with him?”, but when your parents are upset at you, you automatically blame yourself? It’s hard to imagine that you have the power to inflict so much pain on our parents or siblings just by being yourself and doing the normal things you do, and it is hard to imagine that you are always at fault for their upsetness and their resulting guilt-provoking behavior. But after constant experiences of parents or siblings who act hurt, threatened, or angered by your normal behaviors, you begin to assume that your behavior was responsible for provoking their feelings. This belief leads to long-lasting feelings of (unconscious) guilt.
As children we believe that if our parents get angry, the world will turn upside down. We therefore know that in order to maintain harmony, our parents must be appeased, and amends must be made when we hurt them. Since we lack the knowledge to understand the reasons behind our parents’ anger when it occurs, we assume that we have angered them, and we therefore alter our normal behavior in order to placate them and alleviate the punishment. However, in order to placate our parents, we sometimes make accommodations that are detrimental to our well-being. We sometimes resent ourselves for appeasing our parents at our own expense. This resentment may also trap up is self-defeating responses as we go through life. For example, we might rebel against an overly needy mother and become unresponsive to anyone who wants our interest. Or, in response to a controlling parent, we might become stubborn, defiant and disagreeable, no matter how severe the cost to us. These behaviors may end up undermining our relationships with others and also our goals. The particular way in which you tried placating your parents, or atoning, in order to relieve your sense of guilt will explain some of your self-defeating life patterns.
When as a child you changed yourself to make your parents happy, or at least not make them angry, did you know what you were changing and why? Did you really understand what the problem was, and if not how could you possibly have been expected to fix it? And so when you would try to fix it, it most likely would not work and the guilt cycle would continue.
I want you to know why it’s so hard to free ourselves of the behaviors we hate no matter how hard we try, not matter how much willpower we exert, no matter how much advice we receive from others. To understand why it is so hard, we’ll delve into why our childhood patterns continue on into our adult lives even though they are clearly negative patterns and we are no longer living with our parents. The negative effects of our family experiences remain hidden from our conscious minds, even though this information is critical to changing what we most dislike about ourselves. As I continue in this blog, you will become aware of the whys behind your behavior, and you will hopefully begin to make positive changes in your negative behaviors.
We’ll start with a little exercise right now. Imagine that you were reborn into your family, with all the knowledge that your possess right now.
What would be different for you in your relationship with your mother, father and siblings?
If you have any questions about this post please ask and I will get back to you.