How Our Parents Effect How We Handle Feelings
Did you know that challenges in facing difficult feelings generally start in childhood. (To a lesser degree, they can begin with very painful events experienced in adulthood.)
There is an extensive body of research on how infants and children bond with parents or caretakers that describes the importance of relationship on a child’s developing brain. How a child is raised, what he or she was taught, and even what was experienced in utero has significant influence on that person’s capacity to manage or modulate his or her own feelings well, and this carries right on through into adulthood.
Simply put, we generally develop an emotional range that can encompass that of our parents/caretakers. Dr. Dan Siegel believes that how a parent has made sense of his or her own childhood pain has much to do with how that individual responds when parenting his or her own children. In the best of circumstances, you grew up with a parent who joined thoughtful reasoning with emotional warmth and well-modulated feelings. However, if your parents did not make sense of or work through their own pain, then it likely came splashing out on you and your siblings in a messy sort of way. It could have shown up as chaos, rageful episodes, the silent treatment, withdrawal, or total shutdown.
What’s the effect? If you grew up with a parent who withdrew love, affection, and attention when you expressed feelings, you might have learned to shut down your own feelings. Or, you may have witnessed or directly experienced the misuse of anger or been the target of extreme rage. It’s common to push away your own feelings of anger and helplessness when you have been unable to control the danger you faced with a parent’s unpredictable angry outbursts or rageful behavior.
Any one of these experiences can affect how much you allow yourself to feel. Growing up with a raging parent often results in children who either never want to let themselves feel angry or use rage themselves. Maybe you have similar outbursts. Or maybe you just learned to shut down.
Dealing with your feelings also might feel scary or uncomfortable depending on how your parents or caretakers reacted or responded to you, including what they told you about yourself (e.g., “crying makes you weak,” “you’ll never amount to anything”).
It’s essential that you learn how to tolerate and experience unpleasant or painful feelings since those are the ones that trip people up the most. If you don’t manage them well they become relationship killers and dream destroyers, collapsing your drive to pursue goals and adventures and sapping your ability to be resilient in the face of change. Using the Reset can help you ride the wave and change maladaptive patterns learned early in life.
The desire to stay connected to your moment-to-moment experience by being aware of and experiencing 90-second waves of any of the eight unpleasant feelings will, over time, build confidence, resilience, and authenticity.
This weeks questions:
What was the climate of your childhood home?
What impact does that climate have on how you express feelings?
Next week’s topic: What are feelings for? There is a good reason for them all.
I’d love for you to respond on my facebook group!
Join my group on Facebook LOVE MY LIFE and let me know. I’ll post the question and jump on myself to chat and answer questions you may have, on Wednesdays at 3:00 pm Pacific.
To A Life You Love,
Dr. Joan Rosenberg