I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken and herd my Dad’s voice come out. I think all parents have had this experience. We are our child’s first teacher, as our parents were ours. They laid the foundation for many of our beliefs, values, attitudes, and parenting practices. We more often than not act on beliefs, values, and experiences from our childhood—without making a conscious decision to do so. I can give you an example from my own programming. My mother left our home when I was only 5 years old and I have never seen her since. My Father was a great Dad who raised my brother and I extremely well. My Dad had quite a few relationships during our lives with a lovely woman who would show up and stay for a while and then leave. I have had a number of relationships though-out my life and been married more than once, of course, I would see the failure of these relationships were for many reasons but not anything to do with my view of relationships. While going through my training as a Physiotherapist it became clear to me that I had gone into any relationship expecting them not to last or to fail so I would never fully commit. With this realisation and training and therapy, I have completely been able to change my programming and have been happily married for many years.
Parents transfer information through everyday interactions. Children tune in to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages we send, this influence’s how our children think about themselves and the world around them.
Thinking about our own childhood experiences can help us become more aware of the meaning behind our reactions toward our own child:
- What were the messages we received as children? (intelligence, ability, importance, value?)
- What influence, do we think these messages have on our parenting today?
- What ways do we feel our parents had a positive impact on us—that we would like to do with our own child?
- Was there anything about our parents’ approach to raising us that we don’t want to recreate with our child?
- Are there any significant events or experiences in our childhood that had an impact on our and that now may be influencing your parenting?
This programming can be hard to change but not impossible. I believe first we need to become conscious of the beliefs that are shaping our personality. Once we understand them, then we need to dig into our past and understand why we have these beliefs. Formation of beliefs happens unconsciously and that’s why we feel unable to change them. But once we make the unconscious conscious, we start re-gain control. Identifying the beliefs that you want to change and understanding how we formed them is enough for us to break free from their clutches and not let them control our behaviour. It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. If we can pay attention to the present moment to our thoughts and feelings, and to the world around it can improve our mental wellbeing. You can do this with a therapist, I have helped many through this process which has helped to radically change some of my client’s view of themselves and others. But we can also do this with someone who is objective and supportive but most important is constructively honest.
It can be frustrated in the beginning, beginnings are hard. We should not get demotivated if we fail from time to time. The new programming can’t always work as we hoped it will. We usually have to rewrite our programming many times to find the one that works best for us. It’s hard, beginnings are the hardest, but it’s definitely worth it.