When we are children, our experience of love is what our parents show us. Through their actions, words and behaviours we determine:
- whether we are worthy of love
- how and when that love is expressed to us
- who we have to be and what we have to do to be loved and loveable
- how love is expressed between couples (through watching our parents relationship)
These become our beliefs about love.
As we grow up and start having love relationships of our own, we are subconsciously searching for partners who will confirm these beliefs to us.
We may be acutely aware that these beliefs about love do not serve us at all but, until the beliefs have been subconsciously changed, we will continue to attract relationships that in some way are a reflection of our childhood.
Although our parents usually did the best they could for us when we were children, most of us have a few damaging beliefs that are impacting on our adult love relationships.
This may not always be easy to see. The most important thing is how you feel. Pay attention to how you feel in your relationships and see if there is a correlation between them and the feelings you experienced in your childhood. For example:
Your father may have been a raging alcoholic and you felt fearful and not good enough when he was around. You may have responded by walking on eggshells around him and by always being a good little girl in order to not provoke him into a rage.
You could have relationships with men who often lose their temper and drink a lot. Or you might be in a relationship with a depressed man who never loses his temper and you always behave like a good little girl around him, supporting him emotionally without expressing your own needs because you are fearful of adding to his burdens and making him more depressed.
You feel not good enough because your love is not enough to make him not depressed and you walk on eggshells around him because you never know what sort of day he is having.
It’s clear to see that you have recreated your relationship with your father in your adult relationships.
There are two reasons:
- It is what we experienced as love as children – so it seems normal to us and fits our beliefs about love and what love is.
- On some level we knew that the love that we got from our father was not unconditional, real love and this has been filed away in the ‘unresolved’ folder in our subconscious mind.
Anything unresolved in the subconscious mind will continue to come up as a pattern in our life because the subconscious mind is always looking for a resolution to unresolved aspects of our life.
It is often safer (but not effective) to try to resolve these patterns within our relationship than with our parents.
How to overcome this
Recognise that your partner is often subconsciously trying to help you to resolve your childhood issues by playing a role for you. This role will often completely disappear when you have resolved your relationship with your parents.
Then, get very clear on what you need within your relationship that you are not getting.
Ask for your needs to be met in an adult manner, without any blame directed at your partner, and express your gratitude and appreciation when they meet your needs – even if they don’t do it perfectly at first. Ask them to tell you honestly what their needs are and meet their needs often.
Forgive your parents. This doesn’t make what they did right; it just allows you to move on. Remember that forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision. It’s a decision to let the other person off the hook.
How do you forgive them?
I suggest doing all the things listed below. Try not to be half-hearted about this.
This is holding you back from all your hopes and dreams. Experiencing a loving relationship where you feel nurtured and cherished, loving and loved, will completely change your life.
If you feel brave, you can tell your parents that you forgive them or you can write them a letter to let them know. This is not necessary though. You can forgive your parents even if you never met them, even if they are no longer alive or even if you choose never to see them again. You can write them a letter and never send it.
Write a letter in which you detail all their shortcomings first so that you get all your anger and frustration out. Then see if you have a warmer feeling towards them in your heart. From this you can grow your forgiveness letter.
Meditate and see you parents as children or as spiritual beings of light. See their actions as just wrong thinking on their part. See their innocence.
Write some affirmations and pin them up around your house, These can literally change your relationship overnight (as they did mine). Some suggestions are :
- I forgive my mother/father/parents for their unconscious behaviour towards me
- I am perfect, whole and complete
- My relationship is filled with joy
- I have only unconditional love for my parents
- My relationship with my dad becomes healthier and more joyous with each day
What if you chose your parents before you came to Earth because you knew that they were the perfect people to teach you what you needed to know in order to become the best that you could be?
I coached Lorna* who came to me in her late twenties because she was having constant difficulties in her love life. She felt that she was always attracting over bearing, obnoxious and selfish types. She ended up doing everything for her partners while they usually treated her like a housemaid and her needs for emotional support were unmet.
Lorna herself was very mild-mannered and apologetic, with a very low opinion of herself – the type that these men would be drawn to.
Lorna had grown up in a family where her mother was always treated like a second-class citizen and never voiced her opinions much.
Lorna’s father loved to boast, to have the most money and the best cars and always talked far more than he listened. He liked Lorna best out of his children because she was always so polite and kind and never challenged him like her other siblings. He was prone to fits of rage, which frightened Lorna’s delicate nature – so she was careful never to do anything to enrage him.
Despite how she acted, Lorna held a lot of internal anger towards her father who still bossed her around and treated her like a child even in her late twenties.
Through coaching, Lorna was able to see the gifts that her parents had given her. Lorna had observed them from an early age (as all children do) and she developed characteristics that were the exact opposite to those of her father. She has a very humble, kind and calm nature, which draws others to her and makes her one of the leaders in her field of event management.
While Lorna took a break from dating, Lorna and I worked together on forgiveness of others: ex partners, mother and especially her father. We also worked on self-love and acceptance and what Lorna really wanted out of life.
She became a much more confident, strong woman but she still retained her gentleness, kindness and graciousness.
The very next relationship that she attracted was with a man who admired her inner strength and confident nature. “He really listens to what I say and he values my opinions! “ She told me when I last spoke to her. This is because she values her own opinions now and listens to her own inner guidance.
Our parents are our first role models. We can either take on their characteristics or we can choose to become the opposite. Usually we become a bit of both.
The key words here are awareness and perspective. Having awareness and looking at your childhood from a new perspective can shed a whole new light on who you are and why.
Write down in one page or so what your childhood was like. A story format written from an outsider’s perspective is a good way to gain new insights. Be sure to include what the parents’ personalities were like and how all the children (including you) behaved in response to their personalities. Who have the children become now? What are their personalities like now?
Once you have done this, can you see how your personality was shaped, and how, without those particular parents, you wouldn’t have some of your best personality traits?
If your parents are alive and you still see them, notice how you respond to them when they are behaving in a manner that you don’t like.
We usually have only two ways that we respond. Maybe when you mother is critical of you, you either fly into a rage or you criticise her back. There are many other ways of responding, but you only ever choose to do one of these two.
Ask yourself: Why am I choosing to respond in an ineffectual way?
(You know it’s ineffective because you always respond to your mother’s criticism in the same ways and she hasn’t stopped criticising you yet!)
Often, you are keeping the relationship safe, you are allowing you and your mother to remain in your familiar roles.
Ask yourself: How could I respond in a more effective, mature way?
Forgiveness of our parents is one of the biggest keys in creating loving and harmonious relationships. There is nothing more enriching than to be loved and loving.
Melanie Young is a relationship coach. She is a life coach, NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. Melanie lives with her husband and son on their organic farm in Victoria. firstname.lastname@example.org
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