“The habits you created to survive will no longer serve you when its time to thrive.” Ebonee Davis
Do you have memories from your childhood about how you coped? How you coped when you saw your parents arguing? When you felt threatened or overwhelmed or sad? When things felt chaotic? When you had feelings but weren’t supported in expressing them? As I write this I realize I am using adult language, adult thinking, to look back at what we might have experienced in childhood. As children though, we never had the vocabulary to say, “I feel threatened”, or “I’m confused”. So, being the resilient creatures we are, we, as children, developed habits to deal with our environment.
So many times clients come into my practice and it’s clear they are using strategies that definitely did help them to survive as children: shutting down, exploding with anger, fleeing, joking, freezing up, avoiding any conflict … all strategies that were useful when we were children. But in our adult relationships? Not so much. Pick any one of those strategies and apply it to an adult relationship and it becomes clear that we need to seek a change in dealing with challenging times. The trick is to recognize what we are choosing to do. I realize that’s hard because it often doesn’t feel like we are “choosing” to shut down, erupt in anger, flee … but once we become aware of ourselves that’s the power we gain: the power to choose how we will respond. And when we recognize it’s the scared kid inside of us that is the driving force of our responses in conflict, we then get to choose to respond differently. We get to choose to thrive. Easy? Hell no! Doable? Absolutely!
Keep in mind I am talking about these childhood habits in relation to our couple relationships, but they affect us just as much in all other areas – taking risks at work, how we manage our money, how we move through the world socially, how we make decisions for ourselves, how we raise our own children and respond to their needs. It behooves us to look at these habits and examine the role they play in how we choose to live.
Finally, I don’t want anyone to think that those responses we learned as children are “wrong”. They served a wonderful purpose and that was getting us to right here where we are now! We need to honour our resilience. Honour our innate knowledge and recognize what a wonderful thing we did for ourselves. We want to thank that “little me” .. thank her/him for working so hard at keeping us safe. Now it’s time for the adult in us to step up and say “Hey, I got this!” Because we do!
Peace to you.