If you have not already read the previous 3 part of this article series, I would encourage you to do so, as each of the previous parts gives background information to Part 4. To read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this article series, I would invite you to click on the following links: Brain Injury, Parents, Awareness, Creativity, Freedom and Hope Part 1, Brain Injury, Parents, Awareness, Creativity, Freedom and Hope Part 2 and Brain Injury, Parents, Awareness, Creativity, Freedom and Hope Part 3
In my experience, I have also found that pointing fingers in anyone’s direction do no one any good. Keeping the focus on me gives me the opportunity to experience a new freedom. A freedom that I never knew existed. Looking at and examining how the family of origin issues impacts living is not about blaming anyone. Examining these issues and how they impact our lives is about awareness. And as I grow in awareness, I am able to stop reacting in ways that no longer serve to me. As I grow in awareness, I grow in acceptance and am able to find freedom in my present.
How Family of Origin Issues Can Keep the Brain Injury Survivor Stuck
When parents do not know how to process and resolve their own sense of shame, they inadvertently make their children carry their shame. When children grow up carrying their parent or parents shame they acquire and overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Instead of learning to practice healthy self-care, the child grows up believing that they are responsible for taking care of the needs of the parent. The child’s time and energy are focused on not displeasing the parent to avoid being blamed and shamed. Shame and blame then become to tools to keep the child focused on the parent.
The threat of emotional or physical abandonment (or withholding) can then be used to control and manipulate the child. The threat of emotional and physical abandonment then serves to keep the child striving to keep the parent from going away. When the double message of “come close, go away” are added to the interaction, between the parent and the child; the child’s self-esteem and self-worth are given a mixed message. The mixed message communicates to the child that they need their parent(s) approval and validation to feel safe and secure and avoid feelings of shame.
The fear of emotional or physical abandonment fueled by a sense of shame then serves to condition the child to anticipate the needs of the parent or parents. Over time, the child is conditioned to anticipate the needs of the parent(s) through people pleasing, approval seeking and mind reading. Although people pleasing, approval seeking and mind reading continue to be used in a defense of being blamed and shamed, the child continues to feel insecure. In their insecurity, the child strives all the more to gain the approval and validation of their parent(s), so as to not feel like a mistake.
Such conditioning can lead the child to believe that unless they gain their parent(s) approval and validation that their lives simply do not matter. In the event that the individual sustains a brain injury, matters become complicated, because of what they are powerless to change. Once external wounds have healed, the individual living with that brain injury may feel an increased level of frustration and anxiety. Frustration for not being able to meet expectations and anxiety for not being able to keep the parents, family members, and friends from going away and abandoning them.
In October 2008 I wrote a 2 Part article that I would invite you to read. Here is a link to the 2 Part article: How to Move Forward — Make Peace with the Past. I also created a 2 Part video presentation of the article that can be watched on YouTube. Links to the 2 part video presentation are included with the article.
The Power of Acceptance
The beauty of living is that we can make a decision to change our behavior at any time. The process of behavior modification usually begins with an awareness that is followed by acceptance and results in action. Awareness provides the opportunity to address whatever is not in our best interest or in the best interest of the people we love. Acceptance acts like a balm to soften the walls of our resistance and bring us to a place of action.
Growing in awareness, acceptance, and action helps us to realize that we are not our brain injuries, as some may want us to believe. Growing in awareness, acceptance, and action gives us the ability to realize that we do not have to be controlled by shame, blame, scapegoating or abandonment. Growing in awareness, acceptance, and action gives us the ability to create, instead of striving to keep people from “going away”.
Growing in awareness, acceptance, and action gives us the ability to experience a freedom. To experience a new freedom that we never knew existed. Growing in awareness, acceptance, and action gives us the ability to create and experience hope in our lives. Growing in awareness, acceptance, and action gives us the ability to live our dreams. Live our dreams in the present. Live our dreams as individuals who have been impacted by brain injuries and in many cases, invisible disabilities.
I would invite you to read the conclusion to this article series in Part 5 by clicking on this link: Brain Injury, Parents, Awareness, Creativity, Freedom and Hope Part 5
You have my permission to share my articles and or video presentations with anyone you believe could benefit, however, please attribute me as being the author of the article (s) video presentation (s), and provide a link back to the article (s) on Second Chance to Live. In the event that you have questions, please send those questions to me. All questions are good questions. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you. Copyright 2007-2016.