This book has a wealth of helpful information for therapists and for people learning to gain self-insight, independently. Awesome. 5/5 stars for sure.
If you grew up in stressful circumstances, this may not be a light read for you. I certainly found that to be the case. Though having a lot of things laid bare were rough, it was so relieving to finally have articulated what I had internally known for a while–that young people can lose themselves under stressful and uncertain circumstances/feel like they have no personality or space to share themselves.
My one and only critique of this work is that the title is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion. The hallmark of this book centers around what happens when children are not emotionally attended to. Certainly some end up over achieving in order to appear “worthy” of love and affection, but not all of them do. Many end up reading the temperatures of parents/adults in their lives and then subsequently don’t get in touch when their own emotions and how to express them, especially when they have learned that it isn’t safe to do so. This can be so deep-rooted that it takes focused effort to unlearn these behaviors as an adult so that you can finally get in touch with your own wants, needs, and feelings in order to express them to others. That is so huge.
It’s like “undoing” a learned helplessness in a way. When we are kids and not attended to… we still needed to “win” over the attention and affection of our parents for survival. There is no other circumstance as an adult that is quite like that. You have choices (in most cases) to leave abusive situations, or if not abusive, toxic/uncomfortable… you don’t have that same luxury as a child. This can be exceedingly uncomfortable and set up parameters in which people who grew up in this fashion may become accustomed to having people ignore them and their needs and in fact find it acceptable/expected as an adult! Thus perpetuating the cycle of pain/disconnection while cutting off the possibility for true intimacy. For true intimacy/growth/fulfilling relationships to occur, you have to
- Fully acknowledge what you feel
- Feel it
- Express it to others
Precisely what you might have been taught NOT to do as a child (to varying degrees) because it was inconvenient or uncomfortable for the parent.
If childhood wounds go unresolved, people more easily fall into the trap of feeling unworthy and constantly striving for love/attention/affection. If someone doesn’t like them, they may instantly blame themselves or keep trying in hopes of becoming “worthy.” This is a reenactment of childhood wounds and attempts to fix them. The problem is that they are normally attempted to be fixed with emotionally unavailable people (because that’s what the person is used to). Simply being aware of this cycle helps to break it. Be aware that you may find someone attractive precisely because they are emotionally unavailable and that’s safer to you because it is familiar.
It is not a child’s task or duty to satisfy his parent’s needs.
This quote is something to keep in mind. If you were taught to cater to your parents as a child, to have to read their moods and subsequently deny your own… that will carry over into your adult relationships. Watch out for that. Have you lost yourself? You can be found, but it takes time and effort.
It is can be a long, but worthwhile journey to this freedom. It need not be a lonely journey though, other people have traveled the same path. And I would be happy to talk about it– precisely, extricating yourself from generational “trauma”/misery.
Much love to you,
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