Our early experiences provide templates for what we know about ourselves, our relationships and the world. As children, we develop ways of being that please our parents because that is what we need to do for survival. For many people these “ways of being” or templates do not get examined and they continue to wreak havoc in our adult lives in unconscious ways. Our beliefs about who we are “supposed” to be and how we are “supposed” to act in order to be loved, influence our actions and negatively impact our ability to get what we want out of life and our relationships. Essentially, we get stuck.
Growing up I learned that expressing anger was not okay. I would hold in anger, and then distance myself from others instead of expressing anger as it came up. This is a particularly common experience for women. Sometimes women are “not allowed” to be angry because it makes others feel uncomfortable. Can you reflect on the uncomfortable emotions in your family? What are the ways you learned to behave in order to receive love? Some of my clients share that they learned they had to push down any negative feelings they had in order to “not be a burden.” Others discuss that they learned their emotions and needs didn’t matter, and it was better to just keep them to themselves. Another common experience is learning that other’s needs are more important than your own, that you should always prioritize the needs of others. Obviously, these unconscious scripts about who we are “supposed” to be can become very problematic left unexplored.
The way we communicate in the world is directly connected to the relationship we have with ourselves. For example, if I learned that my needs don’t matter, and I’m unimportant, it would make it very unlikely that I would ask for what I need from others. Knowing that our communication is directly related to our beliefs about ourselves, opens a whole new way of looking at our relationships. Do you feel confident at work asking for a raise, or expressing your ideas on a project? In your romantic relationship can you ask your partner for support in the way that feels best for you? Our ways of communicating illuminate the stories we have learned about how we are supposed to be, and our mistaken assumptions about our own self-worth.
I want to share with you a short list of Your Rights in Relationships to get you started on reflecting on the messages you have learned (Your Mistaken Traditional Assumptions), and ways these assumptions are holding you back in your life and relationships.
Please feel free to leave a comment to share your experience about what you have learned.
Thank-you for getting Vulnerable with me!