Emotional or relational distance/neglect understandably results in a person with a deep sense of aloneness. This aloneness is conceptualized as “I’m not good enough” given that it is easier for us to absorb the responsibility for the neglect rather than see our parents/caregivers as less than or unable to meet these basic needs. Internalizing this often leads to a more global belief that the world is not safe. Thus, we take it on as our fault.
This unconscious process of assuming the blame for the poor connection leads to a deep sense of shame and can cloud our view. This shame and belief that we are not good enough inhibits access to our healthy emotions and thoughts, often messing with the transmission, or communication, in interactions and relationships. It can muddy the waters, so to speak, making it tough to see what is really going on. Most interactions, behaviors, and relationships are built on this “ I’m not good enough” message and shrouded in shame.
We can begin to unpack this a bit and look at it through our adult eyes, often with the help of a trusted source. We begin to see that maybe we are not bad but the experience was not good. We developed in a less than optimal environment and created our own understanding of it and a way of being in order to cope. As adults, we can briefly revisit some of these old experiences and create a conceptualization that may be closer to the truth. For example, if parents worked a lot or struggled with addition, or were all together emotionally unavailable, even abusive, we can begin to see that they were the ones struggling, independent of us. They struggled. We took it on as our fault. Our young minds looked for the easiest path toward an explanation and built a story that we were not good enough, not lovable, or unworthy. This is not the actual truth. All those years ago, they likely let you down but we took it on and ran with it, allowing it to shape our relationships and lives.
This conceptualization and the cycle that accompanies it can be examined and reshaped. We don’t need to stay stuck in the story of years ago. When we start to view ourselves as “good enough” we show up as good enough. Our engagements and relationships shift and we are more attuned and connected to those that are in our present life. To avoid the pains of the past is to merely kick the can down the road and allow history to repeat in our relationships with our kids.
If you are eager to make change so that you can have your parenting and partnering planted firmly in the now, you can begin by preparing your SELF.
Begin today, start by jotting down all the things and people you can count on in your life right now. Each day, for 7 days, write it out. What can you depend on now, in your life today? These may be things within you, characteristics that you hold and that you know are solid and dependable. These items might be that you have a steady job or a stable relationship, that you have a strong network of friends, a roof over your head, food to eat. Spend seven days making note of what is working in your life. This is an important step. You see, to look at what didn’t work in our lives, all those years ago, we need to be pretty vulnerable. To be vulnerable, we need a certain element of safety and security in our lives now.
Write out what is working and get clear that life is safe enough to look at this baggage from the past. To unpack it will be freeing and offer you lots of “a-ha” moments. The path to living in the present is not that far off. You can shed the pains of the past and be absolutely good enough right here in the present.