Can You Spell F-a-m-i-l-y V-i-b-r-a-t-i-o-n?“She’s just like her mother.” No, actually she’s not. She learned to be like her mother (or father) or whoever. She was taught by her mother. She paid attention to her mother. She absorbed. She learned by feeling and sensing. This kind of learning goes way, way beyond words. In order to survive in a household, in order to gain approval, get along, be loved, receive food and shelter, any child — naturally — is shaped and altered by his or her birth family. Otherwise, why would so darn many people (of any age) need therapy? Ha! Let’s be real!!! No, this precious being was not born to question herself. She learned that after she got here. She watched. She listened. She felt. She adapted. No, she wasn’t born to care so much what other people think of her. She learned that after she got here. Everyone around her did it, and she picked up the idea that it’s just what you do — you care what other people think. Of course you do. What’s the fastest way to cloud your personal journey? Factor in other people’s opinions about what’s right for you. Today happens to be the birthday of Alfred Hitchcock. Here’s an example of learning the family vibration and keeping it forever. Alfred’s father was apparently a strict man. Once, when the five-year-old Alfred misbehaved, his father sent him to the police station and they locked him in a cell for a few minutes to teach him a lesson. Hitchcock was so terrified that he was afraid of the police for the rest of his life, and he rarely drove a car so that he could not be pulled over. Not to mention the fact that he went on to produce horror and suspense films. Whew.
Free To Be MeIf you want to see how free you were when you were born, watch a baby. Watch a really young child. Watch a free-spirited young boy or girl. I have spent time (lots of time) studying very young children, and I’ve seen how far from that I am. The simple fact — as I grew up, I learned to be different than I really am at my core. Maybe you did, too. We were stellar students. So now I’m all grown up and I find that most of what I’m unlearning is a vibration, a style, a way of being that I learned in order to make life work “better” a long time ago. In my first marriage, and also in starting my own business many years ago, I noticed when I hit a wall. I noticed that my learned knowledge was inadequate. I knew it. But I couldn’t seem to change outcomes. I felt stuck. There are many examples of what goes wrong with the effectiveness of life-coping skills we learned along the way. Maybe I’m in a relationship where something surprisingly bad happens and the relationship knowledge I picked up along the way from my family, friends and teachers isn’t working. Maybe my employment experience is awful and what I know falls short. I have no idea how to fix the pickle I’m in. Maybe I’m betrayed. How do I deal with that? What’s the high road? Can I find it? Should I find it? Maybe I have children and on a tough day, I wonder how any mother possibly survives being a mother.
What To Do?Standing in the chaos, the disaster or the problem, I think to myself, “I got nothin’. I have no idea how to make this better.” So I decide to do something about it. Surely I can find some answers, some solutions that work. I go to a personal growth class, read a book or twenty, or go to therapy. I look for ways to improve my situation. I reach out. I observe. I learn. I begin to UNDO. As I find ways of thinking or being that are no longer useful, I wonder, “How can I shift this? That’s where I was in 2005. Lucky for me, I ran across one of the most life-changing books I have ever read called “The Astonishing Power of Emotions” by Abraham (Esther and Jerry Hicks). It set me on a whole new path of personal expansion. I am forever appreciative of the idea that my emotions can inform me whether I’m on track with who I really am. It was a whole new idea to me that my emotions are a useful guide. I remember listening to the CD that came with the book. I was driving on a street in Santa Monica, CA and I heard ideas that filled in missing pieces in my understanding. I was blown away. I had to pull over and take notes. I had to absorb. The Astonishing Power of Emotions was a game changer. The book has helped me to be more of who I want to be, and who I always was from the beginning. It takes time to UNDO, and re-learn who you’ve actually been all this time. It takes time to take baby steps. Baby steps work. I’ve been practicing for a number of years now, and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The ideas in this book put the power to change in my hands. I always wanted that.
So… back to familiesHow do we get molded into something we’re not? Every family has a style, a way that it operates, and if you want to be part of a family conversation, you find a way to fit in. We learn how to be a member. What’s OK and what’s not. We learn the unwritten rules. Maybe we dumb ourselves down. Adjust. Jog left when we’d really rather go right. We eat peas and hate them. It’s not OK to dislike peas. We work around it. Instead of learning to celebrate our preferences, we learn they’re not OK. It sticks. Forever. I’ve been with families (or at parties) where there are nothin’ but super intellectual conversations — friendly debates — and in order to participate in a conversation, you’d better be up on your history, politics and current events. It’s heady. It’s book learning. It’s national news on steroids. In that family, it’s the “right way to be.” It’s the way to connect. It’s how you prove yourself, ’cause you need to prove yourself, you know. You’re not enough. You have to do something spectacular to be worthy. Oh, heavens. Can you imagine a heart-centered, intuitive, wise, gentle child sitting there listening? Wondering how she is ever gonna make it in the world ’cause she is so different from them? And they are “her world.” And important. And influential to her spirit. And they will expect her to go to Harvard. Or be a doctor. And that’s the last thing she wants to do. Exactly. It happens. All the time. I’ve been to dinner with families who relate through criticizing others. They gather united around the table and declare what’s wrong with the neighbors. It’s how they bond. We’re right and the neighbors are wrong. We’re better and that’s what makes us OK and (somewhat) worthy. At least we’re trying to be good and that should count for something. It’s the comparison game. It’s deadly to a kind spirited little one. In some families, at mealtime the parents have the floor. The children can’t wait to get the meal over with so they can leave the table. It’s a time when the parents try to talk with each other and get irritated when the kids need something, or interrupt. However, I know one family (only one) where the kids were king. The parents listened and encouraged the children to talk and express center stage. The parents never left the table until the young ones were done talking. And guess what? This family produced outgoing, really expressive, outspoken, confident adults. So we all learned our f-a-m-i-l-y v-i-b-r-a-t-i-o-n. And now — do we pass that on, or change it? The good news is that we get to decide.
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