I inherited some great traits from my parents. Both were/are considerate and caring and I think I am as well. My mother loves reading, as do I. My father was athletic which I also am – in a relative sense (albeit unfit!).
But… quite understandably I inherited some habits and traits which aren’t quite so positive.
I had yet another coaching session with Karen Anderson last week. My skype ‘self-acceptance’ sessions with her are challenging and confronting. But also rewarding. We’d had a bit of a break (forced upon us by my IT troubles and a pesky hurricane at her end) so had some catching up to do.
As evidenced by my recent posts I’ve been struggling a bit to find a sense of direction in my not-working life. But, recognising how much my identity had been defined by what I did for a living, and having time to consider my writing, blogging and money-making options have been useful. In fact, I think I’m beginning to get more of a sense of what I’d like to be doing next.
I shared with Karen the meltdown I had the previous week (yet again related to my internet and communication issues). I have an entire self-soothing post half-written as I realised that I AM NOT GOOD AT CALMING MYSELF DOWN. Or self-soothing. My go-to position involves food. I was gonna eat and eat and eat. Just cos.
What I do in my sessions with Karen is break stuff like that down. And it’s probably obvious that my frustrations and anger were less about the fact that my landline had disappeared and the Telco had lost my broadband order, as it was about the fact that the whole experience had left me feeling very disempowered. I felt like a victim. Poor me. And naturally I respond(ed) to these feelings by getting angry and binge eating. Regular readers will know that when I talk about bingeing it’s often accompanied by anger. I’m seriously STUFFING that food down.
I won’t go into a lot of detail here (because it’s personal and not really my story to tell) but somehow the conversation moved to my dad. I told Karen about some aspects of his behaviour which annoyed the crap out of me. Even now I find myself getting upset as I realise that, the same things that frustrated me about his behaviour… I do. Sort of.
We all know that not only do we inherit traits from our parents, it’s not uncommon for us to model our behaviour on those who influenced us as children. This can be a good and a bad thing: I talked about being considerate and my love of reading; but SOMETIMES children who’ve been exposed to abuse as children grow up to become abusers or partners of abusers. Even when we don’t mean to, in times of stress, we fall back on old habits.
Now – fortunately – I’m not talking about anything that extreme.
Until his heart transplant and dementia, my father was a HUGE character. Larger than life. He had a big personality. A strong personality. He was generous to a fault and overly solicitous to others. But… I told Karen, he struggled with his self-worth.
I’m sure many of us can look at others’ behaviour (even those we love) far more dispassionately than we can look at our own. It’s quite shocking really to think that we demonstrate those traits we dislike(d) or even hate(d) in others.
By talking through the one incident with Karen, we delved deeply into behaviour I hadn’t realised I’d ‘inherited’ from my father. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was a wonderful father, husband, friend and person. Like everyone he had his strengths and weaknesses.
As an adult I can look at certain aspects of our behaviour and understand ‘why’. The strangest thing, however, is that even though (I think) I’m pretty self-aware, I hadn’t equated some of my behaviour, thoughts and feelings with my father’s.
I’m more conscious of the futility of my reactions now – because that’s how I viewed dad’s in similar situations. I just have to hope that – sometime down the track – it also translates to how I deal with my thoughts, feelings and responses and breaks that ‘go-to’ binge-eating habit.
Are you sometimes surprised at what behaviour or beliefs you’ve inherited from your parents or others from your childhood?