I'm going to help you change your life one thought at a time. My name is Michelle Raza and I created Finding Yourself SATX Life Coaching in 2017 to help people like you find balance in their life.
Today I'm going to share my thoughts after having read Dr. Lindsay C. Gibson's "Self-Care for Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents", Chapter 10 - "Debugging Your Mind". I hope you pick up your own copy of this work as it is excellent!
This chapter is not nearly as heavy as the previous one. The previous one was talking about healing from emotional injuries and how you kind of just have to accept them in order to grow around them.
This chapter - I imagine that if you are a computer programmer - this whole chapter probably felt like nails on a chalkboard in terms of technical accuracy. But, remembering that Dr. Gibson is a Doctor of Psychology (and after reviewing with a programmer friend), she metaphor is actually quite good!
Her main point is to examine your thoughts and to take an analytical approach to your own thoughts - to be able to see where those thoughts are coming from.
Another author that comes to mind in the study of behavioral psychology is Dr. Judd Brewer. He wrote a lot about addiction, and he also has an app called Unwinding Anxiety.* Dr. Brewer says that in order to rewire your brain to to do things a little differently, you have to stop and say "What do I get from this?".
In a lot of cases, you can see that you're you're doing an activity that you don't necessarily like, so you're like, for example: "I don't like how I'm drinking sodas. I'm going to stop drinking sodas.". He calls that going from Gear One: Identifying the Issue, to Gear Three: Trying to Correct the Behavior. And what he really tries to get you to focus on is the middle gear: Gear 2, where essentially you do the behavior that you don't like, but you focus on it, and you really immerse yourself in it in a mindful way, and then you ask yourself: "What do I get from this?".
We are all wired based on our own personal experiences and childhood memories.
Another example relevant to Children of Emotionally Immature Parents might be - maybe you learned early on that anytime that you were happy, you'd get in trouble. So now, as an adult, you can't fully smile or be happy because somewhere inside you feel that maybe you'll get in trouble for that.
And so maybe you want to stop and journal, as Dr. Gibson recommends. Write down instances where this is happening to you and take an analytical mind to it and say to yourself "What is the consequence of my action?. "If I smile really big today and I'm super happy - What's gonna happen? Is my Dad gonna come yell at me still?"
And maybe you tell yourself "My dad doesn't live with me anymore, so if I'm super happy today, what do I get from this? Maybe as I'm walking down the street another person will see me and, as I'm wearing an infectious smile, they'll smile back - so then what is the outcome of this behavior that at a young age I learned to repress because I lived in a household where Dad was always stressed and I couldn't laugh or be happy about the show that I was watching but now - NOW, as an adult - What do I get from this? What outcome do I get from this Behavior?". Most likely you'd come out of this realizing that there is no longer a negative outcome associated to you smiling or being happy, and so maybe you'll give yourself permission to smile and be happy!
That's a lot to digest. But that's what she's asking us to do in this chapter. And its powerful stuff! You could use this same technique for a lot of different feelings and behaviors.
Maybe you feel shame around something that you don't necessarily need to feel shame around anymore (or at all!). It's one thing to just tell yourself in your mind "Oh well, I have nothing to be ashamed about, so I shouldn't be ashamed." (Jumping from Gear 1 to Gear 3) - that's not going to change how you feel.
Really, just taking the time to experience that uncomfortableness and maybe journal about it and then, after putting it down for a bit, looking at it later, you can analyze your own thoughts and feelings a little more objectively than when you're in the middle of them.
And that's the reason why you have a Life Coach, or a trusted friend, or a mentor, or a therapist, because then they can look at things in your life more objectively as well.
So that's the message of this Chapter - How do you identify those things that are causing you to feel bad. Those things where you're carrying guilt or shame for no reason - where did it come from?
Alternatively, it could be that you're ashamed of something that you should be ashamed about, and in that case, you should go and try to make it right. If the person has passed on, or if it would hurt them to make it right, then maybe you write a letter to them and then you burn it because you don't want to make things worse by trying to make it right.
By doing this, you can help yourself overcome those feelings by making amends in some way, even if its just within yourself.
The crux of this chapter is that - when you're the child of an emotionally immature parent, maybe it was convenient for your parents to tell you certain things or push you to act in a certain way - those thoughts and actions not being the best for you, but rather the most convenient for them - and they didn't really ever take your thoughts, feelings, dreams or considerations into their mind at all. So that's why you need to reprogram and "debug" your brain.
Thanks for hanging out with me today. I hope that if you're still reading at this point that you've subscribed to our YouTube Channel: https://youtube.com/@MichelleRaza_LifeCoach
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If you're interested in changing your life, one thought at a time, start your journey today for less than a dollar.
Take care y'all, talk to you soon!
*I don't get compensated by Dr. Gibson or Dr. Brewer or any of the authors that I cover - their works are just something that I like talking about and I find a value in!