Monday, April 14, 2014

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching - they are your family.”

An excerpt from an excellent book I read recently, "How to be an Adult in Relationships" by David Richo.  Its rated highly on  The book is generally geared towards romantic relationships, but this section is about one's family.  I have found it to be particularly poignant and moving.  And so it reads:

To accept their children, parents must be free of preconceived plans or agendas for them.  These parental representations can begin before birth and range from "this will be a boy" and "this baby will be a spark plug in our marriage; he will make it work" or "this girl will do what I could not do."  Each is a subtle rejection of our individuality, with its limitations and potential.  

Parents can only accept us after they succeed in dismantling their original representation of us in favor of the person we are turning out to be.  This means not being disappointed with us for breaking a bargain we never made.  Acceptance is unconditional, since it means validating someone's choices and lifestyle, even when we do not agree with them.  It is the opposite of moralizing.  Acceptance is a style of pure mindfulness.  We see all that is, and feel all that we feel about what is, but then we focus only on what is as it is.

Acceptance is approval, a word with a bad name in some psychologies.  Yet it is perfectly normal to seek approval in childhood and throughout life.  We require approval from those we respect.  The kinship it creates lifts us to their level, a process referred to in self-psychology as transmuting internalization.  Approval is a necessary component of self-esteem.  It becomes a problem when we give up our true self to find it.  Then approval-seeking works against us.

In attention, you are heard and noticed.  In acceptance, you are embraced as worthy, not compared to your siblings, but trusted, empowered, understood and fully approved of as you are in your uniqueness.  You sense a kindly support of your path, no matter how unusual; of your feelings, no matter how disturbing; of your deficiencies; no matter how irritating.  

These are not only tolerated but encouraged and cherished.  You are perfectly you, and that is enough.  Rather then expecting you to meet a standard, your parents eagerly await your full emergence as yourself, no matter how different you may be from them, or how divergent from their wishes.

Yes, there are really people who love like this.

Did your parents believe in you?  Did they come through for you?  Were they reliable?  Did they stand up for you?  Did they refuse to give up on you, no matter what?

The psychologist Heinz Kohut wrote "The more secure a person is regarding his own acceptability, the more certain his sense of who he is, and the more safely internalized his system of values, the more self confidently and effectively will he be able to offer his love, without undue feelings of rejection or humiliation."

That is all for now, folks.  Stay tuned for some photos of my new apartment within the next couple of days.  I moved to Frankfurt!!!  Officially a big city girl now ;-D

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching -- they are your family. ” 


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