From birth our parents have written upon the “slate of who we are”. Unfortunately, many parents did not treat this with the degree of care and consideration we may have wanted.

The primary relationship in your life with your parent was important during your childhood. However, it often continues to be critical during adulthood. Even once your parents have passed away. Your primary caregiver is likely to have imparted attitudes, ways of behaving, feeling and thinking that is out of your awareness. These usually look like ways of being or rules, such as “I should …, I ought to …”

Rules you may have “swallowed”

Society also imposes upon us a variety of rules for behaving. Mother guilt is often the result of the perceived failure women feel for not living up to the way they “should” be as a mother. Men are burdened with the need to be “manly” and Australia is crippled by the “tall poppy syndrome”.

Sometimes these rules are important, for example “look both ways before you cross the road”. However, often they are the rules of our cultural background. In many instances we have “swallowed” societal expectations without proper examination. There are many, many examples of expectations and ways of being that you may have picked up along the way:

  • Always be nice
  • Anger is bad
  • Don’t stand out
  • Boys don’t cry
  • Be good
  • Skinny is beautiful

What have taken on board as your own will differ depending on the culture you were raised in and the parents you had. There is nothing wrong with these rules for “ways of being in the world” if you are aware of them and have chosen them freely for yourself.

Childhood was all about survival and how you made sense of your environment and how you learnt to “keep safe” was likely to have been highly functional and appropriate. Where there was abuse or neglect in early childhood your parents should’s and outght to’s are likely to have been strongly reinforced. What this means is that how you learnt to respond to situations in childhood may be the same way you respond to challenges in adulthood. Basically, you carry patterns of responding from the past into the future. These patterns may have been helpful in childhood but as an adult often they are no longer functional.

Why is learning about my way of responding important?

When you learn about what you do that is outside of your awareness you then have real choice in life. Present Moment Psychology can support you forge the way to becoming your authentic self;”. To learn more about the way in which you think, feel and behave that occurs outside of your immediate awareness. To take the time to examine what you hold to be true versus what you have “swallowed” from the past.


Come along for a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness and live free from the shackles of your past.


Author: Rebecca Dallard

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