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Today, therapists and the general public are aware of how much our childhood experiences impact our adult lives. Sometimes, it’s true that too much is made of this; but, it’s also true that we do indeed receive and pick up “hidden” messages from our families, foremostly our parents or parental figures, when we are very young.
If these “hidden” messages are healthy, we are more likely to have healthy relationships as adults. But what if these messages are unhealthy? Then, we are more likely to have troubled relationships as adults.
We can always choose to change when we are adults, if we need to, so that we can have healthy relationships. But, we cannot change without first having awareness. We need an awareness of what messages we received and internalized, and how those messages have affected us for better or worse.
Messages about trust
If you have problems trusting your spouse or lover, if you are always looking to be betrayed by someone close to you, perhaps this was because your parents did not trust each other. Maybe you saw one or both of your parents involved with cheating on the other. Maybe they simply kept secrets from each other and you witnessed this.
It’s true that some people should not be trusted. But, you should not be involved with them, either! You need to have trust in the one you are with.
Messages about Communication
If you were raised in a healthy household, you would have seen some fabulous arguments! But you also would have seen your parents and siblings make up with each other and show respect to each other.
From this you would have gotten the message that having a verbal fight is not the end of things; that open communication is healthy and actually solves problems; and fighting does not mean the end or diminishing of love.
Is that how you grew up? Or did you see people reluctant to forgive each other? Did you see a lack of respect? Did you see physical altercations between your mother and father?
Messages about Control
In a healthy household, even if the man is the head of the house he is not some “control freak” with his wife. She enjoys independence, and the man makes it clear to the children that she is their mother and is always to be respected.
But what if you grew up with an iron-fisted father? What if your mother, on the other hand, was always manipulating your father? These are the kinds of conditions that could have caused you to be a control freak, or to let yourself be victimized by one.
How to heal
As an adult, you can choose whether or not to continue believing the hidden stories that have caused you pain in your relationships. You are no longer lacking in control, as you did as a child.
Do you agree with the story, or do you think it was a bad story that you don’t want to live out any longer? If you find yourself in disagreement with a way of life that your childhood household showed you, you can reprogram yourself to live out a different life with different, healthy relationships!.
Photo by Joseph Gonzalez