Letting Go of the Way You Were Parented

As the words leave your mouth you hear them…

A bit in shock, you pause…

“Did I really just say that?”

We have all been there.  That first time when we say something and realize we sound EXACTLY like our own parents.  When did that happen?  How?  I bet as a child you even swore you would never say whatever the phrase was and then – it comes out of your mouth!

Please allow me to let YOU and YOUR PARENTS off the hook.

First, for you, this phenomenon came about because of how your brain develops.  Just a quick word on the “science of it all”.  When you experienced a particular event or feeling as a child your brain started to lay down pathways that lead to an automated response.  These pathways are part of your subconscious and they affect your actions and your words today.  The ideas of “how kids should act” have been passed down.  The examples of how to deal with emotions are probably generations deep in your family.

Kids should be seen and not heard.

Kids should do what their parents say without question.

Do as I say, not as I do.

WHATEVER the underlying belief is, it came about from experiences as a child and often you aren’t even aware that it is “in there” waiting to lead you to a reaction you may not even expect.  It doesn’t even have to be something that you view as a negative reaction; however, while you are letting these past experiences run the show your power as a parent and as a human is dimmed by the subconscious reactions that all too often we allow to dictate our life.

Second, to let your parents off the hook, all of this depends on how YOU perceived things as a child.  I am willing to bet that your parents did the best that they knew how.  They are human too and the exact same subconscious patterns were likely dictating their behaviors.  In addition, how you perceived anything in your childhood was through your own filter of the experience.

Just as an example, I had an aversion to seeing others upset or stressed as a child.  It was my OWN story that if I “didn’t cause any trouble” and “acted like I was supposed to” that life would be better.  I know for a fact my parents would never have wanted me to put my own wants or desires last, but that wasn’t something we ever talked about because I had assigned a meaning, a “truth”, to how I was supposed to be.  It wasn’t until many years later that I realized my way of trying to be “perfect” and “people pleasing” was actually leading to pain in my own life.

Today, I want you to recognize that you actually have a choice.  You get to decide how you want to parent.  You get to decide how you want to respond.  It begins with YOU being willing to slow down, observe those patterns, make the subconscious conscious, and then choosing to create the relationships and connections that align with what you really want.

Easy, right?  (Sarcasm intended!  This process doesn’t always feel easy BUT I want to assure you that it is possible and it is worth it!  The peace that happens when you learn how to live and parent consciously is freeing.)

“Where do I start?”

First, I would like you to just consider that anytime you find yourself “triggered” (experiencing an emotion that feels tough – stress, frustration, overwhelm, etc.) that what you are experiencing is a great clue that there is some unfinished business from your past.  It is an invitation to look within and to recognize and honor suppressed feelings from the past.

Today I invite you to start this journey with four steps:

  • Reflect on your childhood.
    1. Spend a few minutes thinking about who you were surrounded with, where you lived, who was in your family, and who was important to you as you were growing up?
  • Consider the ways that your childhood is actually influencing your parenting today.
    1. Do you have areas where you sound like your parents? Behave like your parents?  Patterns that you are continuing on that you can recognize started before you? As you become aware of these patterns, you can start to separate what is happening TODAY from what happened in the past.
  • Learn to identify feelings and needs.
    1. Feelings and basic human needs are a catalyst for ALL behaviors.  Basic human needs include acceptance, attention, affection, appreciation, autonomy, and connection.  I’d have you consider that any behavior is simply a “best attempt” to have a need met.  When you take the judgment off the behavior (good vs bad) you allow yourself room to really consider what is underneath of it.  This step takes time and education as for many it is a whole new language and so different then how we have normally gone through our days brushing aside or suppressing feelings.
  • Shift belief patterns.
    1. This is the deep work! When you have started to recognize your own feelings and needs and when you have started to recognize how you may be playing an old pattern out in your current relationships, you get to really look at what is beneath it.  For example, I used to have an old subconscious belief that “nobody listens to me” and “my needs aren’t important”.  You might be able to imagine how that affected my daily life without my even noticing it.  I can assure you, when that nagging belief was operating without me noticing it I would end up yelling at my kids when I felt unheard.  As soon as I started to recognize how it felt when I was operating from that space I had the opportunity to slow down, acknowledge that the belief ISN’T TRUE, and instead of reacting choose a more empowered way of being and communicating in a way that I was actually heard.  Through recognition, meditations, and other tools I can honestly say that that old belief RARELY even comes up anymore!  I have shifted my beliefs to include that I am important and what I have to say matters.  No longer do my kids have to be at the end of my reactions to an old limiting belief.

The process of “letting go of the way you were parented” is indeed a process.  As our children grow, there may be new patterns or beliefs that come up for you based on what they are experiencing.   I invite you to learn to enjoy the process.  Find a mentor or a great community where you can learn to work through what you are noticing in yourself (and be open to feedback if others notice patterns and beliefs that you are not yet conscious of — that is a HUGE part of the relationship that I have with the families I coach).  Make the subconscious CONSCIOUS…

From there you have CHOICE.



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