Why We Judge Our Parents

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Do your children seem judgmental of some of the things you do? Or do you feel triggered into judgment and lack of compassion in regards to your own parents?

When I teach the Shadow Energetics Workshop, I give examples for how couples carry each other’s shadow traits, how siblings are often functioning from opposites, and how children trigger our own shadows. When I was teaching day one of the training last weekend, it occurred to me that I don’t highlight as much that children are also triggered by the shadows their parents mirror to them. Our parents reflect to us what we have disowned in ourselves and we do the same for our kids.

Henry Ward Beecher points out that we don’t really know the extent of the love our parents felt for us as children until we have become a mother or father ourselves. I would like to add that we also don’t know what it feels like to be judged by our children until it happens to us. The experience of walking in the parental shoes gives us a different perspective on our own parents and their struggles. Being the parent means that we are mirroring shadow traits for our teenage or young adult children as well. It is uncomfortable to be at the receiving end of those projections but we need to keep in mind that this is not about us, as much as it feels that way, but it is about what our children have learned to disown; and we may even have taught them to disown that particular trait or energy.

When it comes to technology or other modern day problems that need solving, I am quick to throw my hands up in the air, going into helplessness. My daughters will help, but lately there has been some impatience from their side. They pride themselves on being independent and able to problem solve well. At their age, they have disowned their own neediness for outside support a bit. It appears to them as a quality that is not desirable, a shadow they have renounced.

Ironically, raising my daughters, I always affirmed their independence and encouraged them to put their mind to problem solving because my own mother mirrored helplessness to me. Independence is a very useful quality. At the same time, we are naturally interdependent as human beings.

Helping others with an open heart and gracefully accepting help from them in return connects us on a heart-to-heart level and fosters greater compassion and understanding for one another. What would society look like if everybody just took care of themselves without extending a helping hand? No energy is “bad” or “wrong”. Being able to ask for help is as useful and beneficial as being independent.

As a parent, it is my job not to take the response of the younger generation personally and to keep mirroring this shadow to them until they are ready to embrace it. We need to learn from each other in this situation. Their independence encourages me to problem solve more myself before turning to somebody for help. At the same time, they also need to be connected with that energy of “neediness”. As humans, we are all needy for emotional support and practical help from each other.

According to author James Gilliland, who has written about the seven essence mirrors, the fifth mirror reflects our parents to us: “It is often said we marry our father or mother. We often also become them, acting out the same healthy and unhealthy patterns we learned as a child.”

I used to see my mother as overly fearful and helpless, especially when something unforeseen occurred, and I also judged her for what I perceived from the outside as “settling” for a situation she was not happy with. Once my sister and I had grown up, she was clearly bored. I used to question why she didn’t find something new, something that was challenging and fulfilling.

Today, I certainly have more fears than I had when I was twenty. My daughters’ courage sometimes leaves me breathless. When the older one travels all over the world by herself or the younger one charges forward without fear of rejection, I have to remind myself that they are safe and to trust them to be okay. In some ways, I have become my mother. The horizon of the next generation is always a bit broader; it is a different world.

I also notice that the lure of what is familiar is strong. Starting something new can require a lot of positive self-talk and belief changes. It has a scary element to it. I did not have that empathy when I was younger. I lacked the understanding that what my mother was mirroring to me was what I had disowned within myself.

Sometimes we realize that we have become somewhat like our parents, other times we wake up to the fact that we are married to our father or mother. In an older blog, I wrote about Benjamin who grew up with a stepfather who was a raging alcoholic. Ben learned that anger is nothing but destructive and that he is weak and helpless when confronted with it. Before Ben realizes it, he is married to Grete, a partner who in that one important way is a replica of his stepfather. She didn’t appear to be angry when they first married, but their interactions bring this energy to the surface. When she is frustrated, she hides her vulnerability behind anger and she yells. Ben, however, has learned to be afraid of anger and aggression. When somebody only slightly raises their voice, not to mention starts yelling, his reptilian brain instantly goes into the fight, flight or freeze response. The more Ben freezes and avoids her instead of communicating what is going on for him, the more disconnected and invisible Grete feels and the louder she becomes, desperately trying to get through to him. They are caught in a cycle of frustration. Ben feels unsafe and unloved just as he felt during childhood. He judges Grete for being too angry. Grete feels invisible and unimportant, which is her childhood experience. She perceives his stone-walling as a danger cue and, if you so like, a counter-attack.

Ben shuts down because he feels controlled and powerless just as he did when he was growing up. As a child, he felt terrified of his stepfather’s anger. By the time he was a teenager, this fear had turned into stubborn resistance. Ben perfected the non-response, a completely still-face and quiet defiance of the man he hated. Grete mirrors his stepfather to him and he cannot help himself; he flips either into the helpless little boy or the stubborn teenager. In that quiet defiance and non-response lies Ben’s power. He is unaware how this dynamic perpetuates the problems they have. Even though Grete seems to be the stronger one on the surface, underneath the tip of the anger iceberg is always a more vulnerable experience.

Anger lives in Ben’s shadow and because it is an energy he is disconnected from and fears, he is bound to attract it into his life through other people, like his wife, until he integrates this shadow quality. Grete judges Ben for being weak and passive. The only way out for Ben and Grete is to embrace the opposite energy more. Ben needs to get in touch with his own anger and stand up calmly and assertively. That will allow Grete to be in her female energy more, be softer and gentler, allowing him to be more masculine and strong. By taking steps towards each other, they are both becoming more whole and are able to communicate and interact more productively.

Are you stuck in a parent-child interaction with your partner? In which ways do other people mirror your mother or father to you? And in which ways are you mirroring a disowned part for one of your children?

If you want to  work on your own triggers and shadows to live more conscious relationships contact me for a free phone consultation on either individual sessions or couple’s coaching.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Once Upon a Time There Was An Evil Queen

“I’m still what’s inside of you. I’m all you’ll ever be,” says the Evil Queen, smirking at the woman in front of her.

Regina, the modern counterpart of the Evil Queen, is facing her darkness, about to kill her. Characteristic for this popular TV series, she ties the Queen up with a magic spell, reaches into the chest of the evil woman and rips out her heart.

“I hate you,” snarls the Evil Queen.

Regina is looking down at the black heart beating in her hand. She is about to kill her dark shadow side by squashing the heart, but then she hesitates.

She replies, “But I don’t. Not anymore… I am going to choose love over hate.”

She pulls out her own heart and melts the two for a moment. When she pulls them apart again, the dark heart has become lighter, and the light one now has traces of darkness. She puts both hearts back in their chests.

“I gave you some of my love… in return I am taking back some of your darkness, our darkness”, she explains.

The Evil queen looks stunned. “Why?” she inquires.

Regina answers calmly, “You are part of me and I am part of you.—And now I love myself!”

“Once Upon a Time” is a TV series about fairy tale characters who end up in our modern world and travel between realms, different magical realms and the contemporary world. One of the main characters is the Evil Queen from the fairy tale Snow White. At the beginning of this series, this Evil Queen, Regina, cast a curse which traps all the fairy tale characters, frozen in time, and brings them into our modern world. Different interactions between good and evil unfold throughout the six seasons.

Remarkable about this series is that no evil character is purely evil. Everybody demonstrates good and bad sides and even the antagonists change and develop. The viewer gets insights into how and why they have became so dark in the first place. There usually is some pain, hurt and lack of love behind their darkness.

Regina develops into a loving person in the contemporary world, yet her original character from fairy tale land remains dark. In the sixth season, it comes to the above described showdown between the modern Regina and her dark counterpart, the Queen. This showdown scene is the perfect example of how we are all facing our shadow selves and how we often hate that shadow. Instead of killing it and trying to get rid of everything that we have learned to believe is bad or wrong about us, we can embrace those shadow traits and end up actually loving ourselves the way we truly are.

Originally, the Evil Queen, who experienced a lot of personal pain and loss, trapped everybody in time to prevent all the fairly tale characters, especially Snow White, from getting their “happily ever after”. In the end, her modern counterpart, Regina, helps her to find her happy ending in Fairy Tale Land. The message being that everybody deserves to love him or herself and find that intimate connection with others.

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When we embrace our shadows we work towards a similar “happily ever after” in all our relationships. Integrating our shadows moves us into wholeness, into unconditional love of ourselves. We separate from the Inner Critic, the voice inside us that says there is something wrong with us for having a certain trait or behaving in a certain way. The more we separate from that judgemental voice, the easier it is to look into the mirror and say “I love myself.” By finding separation from the voice inside of us that says we need to hate our flaws and hide the way we truly are, we become gentle with ourselves and we can reconnect with our Inner Child. When we connect with that vulnerable part inside, we find our joy, our childlike wonder, our magic, our curiosity, our imagination, our creativity, our playfulness, and our intimacy.

As we accept all traits inside us, we can accept them in others. We release our judgments and projections. We develop a natural compassion towards others. We can accept other people more and more the way they are. When others feel our love and acceptance, it gives them permission to be their authentic selves. They feel safe because they will not be found wrong by us. Their protective walls come down and their masks come off. The result is the mutual ability to live loving and authentic relationships with each other.

couple, bike, love

Check the Upcoming Workshops schedule for the next four-day Shadow Energetics training or contact me for individual sessions.

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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