Everyone of us would like to have had a great childhood, where we felt loved, accepted for what we are, supported to nurture our dreams, where we were affirmed, and given all the necessary tools to cope with the challenges of life.
Unfortunately, no parent is perfect, and therefore there might have been situations where we felt less than loved, where we had to be what others wanted, where our voices were not heard, where others decided and wanted us to live our lives in their terms.
Uneven parenting is quite common, despite the good intentions of parents. Uneven parenting can promote some beliefs like:
- I am not worthy of love
- I need others to feel like a person
- I do not count/matter
- Others come first
- I must have it my way at all costs
- My race defines the person that I am
- You cannot trust anyone
- I should not have boundaries – I am everything to everyone
- And many others.
When we develop such beliefs as children, we go through life in a less than a thriving way. We place our happiness and fulfilment in other people’s hands, and we take the victim role.
I grew up in a large family, where I had to struggle to be seen – I was 7th in line. My father (bless his soul) expected exceedingly high results in everything. I learned that I had to please others in order to be accepted. Unconditional love was fiction. I learned that it is survival for the fittest, and I had to be fit. My views did not matter, because someone knew better what I needed. I do not remember being asked what I wanted, and the decisions I made were “rebellious”.
For a young growing up child, you think that this is all there is, until when you are exposed to the world and discover that there are different values to live by. I am extremely grateful to have had very intense experiences in life, where I was challenged to shift gear. All these were life savers that God was throwing my way, and I am glad I welcomed them.
Many of us regret some or a lot of our childhood experiences. However, life has taught me that I alone can break this cycle. I cannot allow my past to define my present and hence my future. My destiny is not in the past, but in the here and now. I do not want my familiar past to become my predictable future, I take ownership of my life now. I re-parent myself – whatever I did not have then, I give it to myself today. Robert Subby, in his book Lost in the Shuffle, calls children who have had to live in difficult circumstances and make unfortunate decisions to survive “victims”, but adults who continue to base their current actions upon painful past experiences “volunteers”. We have what it takes to change our beliefs. Our beliefs inspire our thoughts, our thoughts give rise to our emotions, our emotions propel us to act, and our actions lead to behaviour, which in turn determines our destiny. This means that we need to break the cycle from the roots – our beliefs – and thankfully, we have the power to do that. The following tips have helped me navigate this murky past:
- Looking at the positive things that have happened in my life
- Forgiving, especially my parents, and holding no grudges against people
- Focusing on my strengths as opposed to weaknesses, but acknowledging my flaws when I make mistakes
- Living a life of gratitude and generosity
- Living in the here and now, and doing my best to make the present moment worth living
- Exercising gratitude
- Having fun in life – nothing is to be taken too seriously… all shall pass
- Learning, learning, and learning…
What strengths do you hold that help you to improve the quality of your life? What is your contribution to the world? We need to share our unique gifts to the world – the world needs it. Believing in ourselves in crucial, because whether we think we can, or we can’t, we are right.