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  • Johanna Lynn

Our Parents Within Us

Updated: Apr 16

As the workshop began, Sandra shared that the therapist she worked with last year suggested cutting off the relationship  with her parents because it was too stressful for her to keep engaging with them.

The truth is the connection to our parents can’t be cut off.   

Within our body we are half our mom and half our dad. They are our roots, our sense of belonging, we literally get our sense of self from them.

Even if we move across the country from them to “get some space”, we bring them with us, within us. Some believe that when their parents die, then they will finally be free of the challenges. Yet you still interact with your parents in your mind forever. You know those voices in your head? That inner voice is shaped primarily by your parents.

If we cut them out of our lives, we cement our opinion of who we think they are. When we no longer have access to seeing them differently, it keeps us stuck in our limiting beliefs about ourselves along with our patterns of relating with our spouse, with our children – with all aspects of our life.

Even those who are stuck living in judgement towards their parents. Saying to themselves:  my Mom is so critical or my Dad is unapproachable, he’s never really been there for me. If we reject or judge our parents it seems we we keep ourselves in a cycle of pain that can’t be overcome just by talking about it.

Most of us think that if we resist being like our parents, then we will keep ourselves from being like them. Often the opposite is true as I’m sure you’ve heard, what you resist persists. When we judge them or cut them off it keeps us from feeling free in our own lives.

Whether you have a great relationship with your parents but they occasionally annoy you, or you have a strained relationship with them, as a child we’ve all subconsciously decided how much we’re loved or not loved and that still plays out in our lives today.

Here are just a couple examples of how that might play out:

What we didn’t receive from Mom and Dad, unconsciously we expected our partner to fulfil and it ends up putting a real strain on the relationship.

What is unresolved with our parents we bring into our marriage. In your family, if Dad cheated on Mom and you witnessed all the pain wrapped up in that experience. Decades later your husband is late coming home from work, what is the first thought ?

If your Mom was highly critical, even if your partner gives thoughtful feedback, we can be easily triggered and remain hurt, not quite able to hear the feedback and instead shut down from the perceived criticism.

We all have this love imprint influencing how we show up in our relationships. There are ways to step out of this patterned response and often the first step is to gain awareness about the origin of what we need in our loving connections.

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