Emotions associated with anxiety are commonly felt at many times in our lives, arguably some of the strongest become evident when we ourselves become parents. Why might this be?
Nurture or nature
So many of the clients I meet will have psychological challenges; emotional turbulence if you will, as a direct result of their experiences growing up. But often, the first time this becomes a conscious possibility is once matters have become ‘bad enough’!
So many individuals are still operating in a way I once did. Believing the unhealthy emotional and physical health we experience is without choice;
“It’s just who I am!”
But is that really true, and if so, what lies ahead for our children and the generations to follow?
Walking towards the challenge!
It is inherent in us to move away from ‘pain’, be that psychological or physical. But to really grow, we have to consider what can be learned from our less pleasant experiences, and, how they serve us – and our future generations to exist in a way that continues along a less optimal trend?
Only with greater awareness we can begin to unpick behaviours learned from our parents and significant others during our formative years – particularly those of our first decade. It is in this time that so much of our belief system about our place in the world; whether we are loved and worthy, safe and secure, where we form the cognitive and emotional scaffold we will carry in some form for the rest of our days, is manufactured.
None of the considerations around just why peace and acceptance may be less available to us will (ideally) involve blame of others, regardless of how complicit they were. As is commonly shared, the parents or guardians did what they did – with what they had!
Typically, within the family history the chain of behaviours becomes clear. And so it can be with some greater understanding we can find compassion even, for those who raised us in a less than optimal fashion. Our responsibility is to ‘break the chain, break the cycle’
An appetite for change
One of the most difficult aspects of growing greater awareness of ourselves is catching the thoughts before they lead to unhealthy emotions, and subsequent behaviours. This might typically be observed as impatience, anger or general intolerance to a child.
“I can’t believe it! I sound just like my own mum/dad”
(Anyone who has been a parent will likely recognise the quote above – and it doesn’t stop there)
“JUST DO AS YOU’RE TOLD”
If you are finding yourself inexplicably intolerant, shouting and yelling – and then regretful, try to look at where the triggers are, and how these are consistently being reacted to.
Alternative choices, fresh behaviours.
Ask yourself whether, instead of providing a reactive admonishment of the young person who, in your mind, didn’t reach your expectations, could you, 1- make light of it, 2- walk away and take a few slow, calming breaths, and then, 3-…reconsider what response (rather than re-action) is helpful. Asking a young person what you want them to do rather than what you ‘don’t’ want can be hugely helpful!
This is a snippet of the kind of work that is considered when working with parents and young individuals within my practice. If any of this resonates with you, please do allow some time and space to consider how things may be different today, and in future.
None of these examples are about failure; they are about opportunities to learn, grow and encourage a new generation to behave in a way that will leave a truly lasting legacy.