I am reflecting today upon the great influence our families have on us and on our development. We become a part of a system and the first thing we do is observe how things are done. We are not able to make any decisions in the beginning because we’re being taken care of, but we do get to be loved and valued in the way our parents were loved or according to their beliefs on this matter. We bond with them, we form attachments, healthy or unhealthy ones. We don’t get to choose our parents, siblings, relatives. We get to be a part of a system already formed and we have an assigned role in it that we discover as we grow up and become (more) mature. Like it or not, this is what happens. To go even further, terms like “love”, “marriage”, “relationships”, the way we relate to one another and the way we perceive the world and people around us are all shaped by our environment and culture. We learn about love from our parents and the way they interact with one another. We learn what’s appropriate and what’s not in relationship with them and we get punished for bad behaviors and rewarded for the right ones. Too often we learn that love is conditioned by what we do and how we act so we learn to manipulate situations in our favor because one of our deepest needs is to be accepted and loved. We don’t do well with rejection and punishment.
During our 20s though we get to self-educate and make our own decisions, but the tricky part of it all is that we are biased by our past experiences. No matter how hard we try we carry with us the mark of our childhood and our parents. Just think about it for a moment: How do you know what’s right or wrong, what’s appropriate and what’s not, what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable, and so on? Yes, we say it’s our choice that dictates that, and I agree. We do get to choose, but how much is our free choice and how much is the influence and history of our own life?
I am grateful for my parents and for who I am today but I must admit it takes a lot of self-development and willingness to overcome some of these childhood influences, to actually reshape our thinking and become individuals. Most of these things require a lot of effort and a lot of times we tend to blame ourselves for wrong choices, yet sometimes we are programmed to make certain choices because of our background and what we’ve been thought. I’m not making excuses for any individual but this is a fact. As we mature we owe it to ourselves to develop and restructure the way we interpret things and situations. Experience becomes the shaping factor and we get to conclusions and make assumptions based on our experience and the way we see the world.
I know we wish it was easy but it’s not. Growing, moving forward requires us to go through different situations where we get hurt, disappointed and even blamed. Our choice there and then is to either learn things about ourselves and change when it’s necessary or judge ourselves and others and label ourselves in a negative way.
The choice is yours. Yes, we are shaped and influenced by our experiences and that becomes our reality, but remember that you have the power to choose which way to go: self-progress and growth or self-hatred and limitations.