Our children are our mirrors. The way they think, and act is reflective of the way we think and act. And often, our thoughts and actions are reflections of the way in which our parents thought and acted. So much of this is unconscious. We’re not even aware of it.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.” Carl Jung.
You will think the things you say and do are part of your destiny.
Let me illustrate with an anonymous client. She began working with me because both her children had always struggled with making and keeping friends. Her older child had a learning disability which she used as a reason. When her younger child began following the same patterns, a kind and compassionate friend pointed them out to her and began the change of awareness that led her to my door.
Exasperated would have been a fitting description. Frustrated beyond belief she tearfully explained how much it hurt her to have her children constantly rejected by others. As her youngest child approached the teenage years she watched, feeling powerless as her daughter began changing her behaviour as a way to fit in, to be accepted by her peers. And some of the behaviour she was seeing just wasn’t okay. Torn between letting her daughter figure it out, or else intervening before the consequences of teenage behaviour became too great she was snapping at her daughter, and finding herself in an argumentative place. One that led to raised voices, slammed doors and stomping of feet. She felt that nothing she said or did made a difference to her adolescent’s behaviour.
It can be easy to bow to unconscious beliefs without even realising they are there. Low self esteem presents as a lack of confidence to have an opinion and not only was I seeing it in her daughter’s behaviour, I was hearing it in my client’s words. Unconscious beliefs hide in plain sight, camouflaging themselves into everyday thoughts, words and actions. They are super sneaky.
My client snapped at her daughter because she was scared. By snapping at her own child she was raising a child to snap at others. Or else to say nothing and fall into the group behaviour and expectations. Not a great place to be when being able to stand up for yourself may well be the difference between life and death – “No, I’m not getting into that car with you, you’re drunk”
We worked on being able to respond, not react:
- Pattern interrupting with a deep, conscious breath as she recognised the way her body felt just prior to snapping.
- Stating her own needs clearly with ‘I messages’.
- Reflectively listening to her teen to deeply understand her teen’s needs.
- Clearly conflicts effectively.
- Finding and joining interest groups to fill her own friendship needs.
Wow, nine months down the track and we were looking at a changed client, a changed family unit and changed teenagers. Being the mirrors they are, her teenagers also picked up on the way in which my client was talking with them. They saw her increased confidence and wanted that for themselves. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. There will be no going back for this family.
I want that for you too. There is no reason to stay stuck with the family dynamics you have inherited. At the end of the process you will notice your change and be pleased it was what you chose. Book a free, exploratory call with Melanie to see how change can work for you and your family. It’s not change that takes time; it’s not changing that takes time.