Parent vs. Personal Feelings

Parent-Feelings

 

·      Parent-feelings are made up from a range of feelings, beliefs and behaviors, used by well-meaning parents to communicate in relationship. 

·      Every child learns, during early childhood, what the standard is in the family for “normal” parent-feelings. 

·      Our parent-feelings can be seen in our behavior as adults in the way we react, respond, think, verbalize and feel while engaged in relationship with others.

·      What we as adults call normal behavior, our parents called normal behavior.

·       “Normal” parent-feelings can be temporarily modified on the surface, but at the core, parent-feelings remain dominant in the way we react towards others under stress.

·      There is no choice in the family conditioning; children are subject to whatever relationship models their parents endured from their parents, etc. 

·      Parent-feelings can either come from a respectful or derogatory pattern.  This is irrespective of the family’s social, cultural or economic class.

 

Parent-feelings are enforced a high cost to personal-feelings.  For us to survive within our parent-feeling model, we had to modify beliefs and behaviors, and sacrifice our personal-feelings.  The universal result of being conditioned by parent-feelings is that we grow up with a limited baseline for feelings, beliefs, behaviors and relationship possibilities. 

 

The uncomfortable limitations we feel, when reacting to others under stress, is a clear demonstration of the relationship anomaly. 

The relationship anomaly says that any chronic, repetitious, unproductive communications we experience with significant people, in which we remain uncomfortable during and after the communication, is suspect as being part of the parent-feelings model we inherited.

  Feeling speechless, shy, anxious, angry, sick, tired, agitated or anyway other feeling that leaves us less than clear with our communication, is a sign of the anomaly learned from parent-feeling conditioning.  Again, whenever we “feel” as an adult, the majority of the time we are not feeling our personal-feelings, but our parent-feelings.

 

With the above said, there is also a positive side to learned parent-feelings.  First, jumbled in with the negative, reactive behaviors that we act out habitually under stress, is a whole set of positive behaviors learned from our parents.  Hope for the future, treating other people well, good manners and values to mention a few.  Also, knowing our limits and growing up within a belief system that supports us, may have been apart of childhood conditioning. 

 

Secondly, the combinations of our parent-feelings, both negative and positive, are like a one-of-a-kind fingerprint that points to us.  Even in a family of several siblings, each will display a different set of characteristic combinations that make up their specific personality.  Each member can be counted on to be a certain way, in a given situation, time after time.  Additionally, there is a social phenomenon that forces individuals in any group to take on a unique role in that group to maintain the collective identity.  These forced roles always fall into an acceptable range of behavior, carry levels of power, and can be started and ended abruptly.

 

However, do not make the mistake that a friend or co-worker has had a similar conditioning experience.  Just because our parents may have imparted a particular value, which is second nature to us, does not make it true for others.  Values learned from parents are conditional and came at a price.  They are values subject to the opinions of other people’s life experience.

 

Also, be cautious in assuming that inherited positive values have much power over controlling our negative, reactive conditioning when we are under stress.  For example, if we are hypersensitive to angry behavior expresses towards us, no amount of positive thinking will prevent us from reacting defensively.  We cannot, not react, if we are hardwired to react towards anger.

 

We will cover the solution to this dilemma later in this chapter, but for now lets look at our own personal-feelings that are separate from parent-feelings.

 

·     

Personal-Feelings

 

·      Personal-feelings are unique to each individual in a family unit. 

·      Personal-feelings influence the way we act out our parent-feelings in conversation and relationship. 

·      Personal-feelings, in any given situation, differ greatly between offspring, where parent-feelings lay out an underlying behavior model for all siblings.

·      Personal-feelings are each child’s ritual sacrifice or personal forfeiture for the hope of being seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued by caregivers; the survival need to be secure in a family unit. 

 

Parents never hold back a better model for relationships; they teach us what they learned from their parents.  We then act out in everyday conversation, not based on our personal-feelings, but on our parent-feelings.  Others judge us on these dominant parent-feelings, or what is called our “hardwired” feelings, beliefs and behaviors.  There is only a slight correlation between what people see in our hardwired behavior and what is really going on inwardly regarding the status of any given relationship.  Nevertheless, behind these parent-feelings, exist our private, authentic personal-feelings, which are revealed in covert ways.  This leads us to ask the obvious question, “How do we discern between obvious parent conditioning and our personal-feelings?”

 

Our personal-feelings are hidden behind a protective, emotional, conditioned threshold that has been described above as parent-feelings or hardwiring.  This parent-feeling threshold may prevent our authentic personal-feelings from surfacing for an entire lifetime.  Personal-feelings are always subordinate to parent or hardwired feelings. 

 

 

The truth is, we never learned a “language” to articulate our authentic feelings

.  Neither our parents nor their parents ever learned this language.  Personal-feelings language is suspiciously absent in all families.  Suspicious, because when mentioned it feels like sometime we already know.  However, when pressed to speak about personal-feelings, concealed feelings quickly fade from consciousness and parent-feelings take over.  We have all given others a blank stare or witnessed someone else giving you a deer-in-the-headlights look when they are pressed to put concealed, personal-feelings into words?  These examples show how limited our parent-feelings are to express how we really feel about others. 

 

Another way to draw a distinction between parent-feelings and personal-feelings is to line-up parent and personal feelings next to a desired relationship outcome.  When parent-feelings are expressed, we often do not get the results expected; we get the results we have experienced many times before.  The reason parent-feelings communications become repeatedly unmanageable is that parent-feelings are always dominant under stressful situations.  Parent-feelings default habitually to hardwired behavior, even though it makes the communications with significant others worse.

 

Personal-feelings, on the other hand, sound and feel authentic to others.  This is a new experience for most of us because we are so used to the hardwired sparing that is part of most relationships.  What authentic personal-feelings we do remember come during rare and traumatic moments in life, such as the death of a loved one or favorite pet.  At those times, we are filled with grief and feel out of control. 

 

Few people are able to convey personal-feelings as everyday expressions.  If we could speak personal-feelings as everyday feelings, we would more often get the results desired when communicating with significant others and leave conversations with more of a sense of our own value.  Personal-feelings expressed authentically have the potential to change minds and hearts, where change has never occurred before.  The proof of whether we are conveying parent-feelings or personal-feelings is seen in the results desired being achieved in any relationship.

 


Help, I’m Out of Options!

 

Next, we need to understand why feeling “out of control” emotionally is a prerequisite condition to access and speak our personal-feelings in conversation.  When personal-feelings are given equal standing with our parent-feelings in a conversation, achieving mutual clarity in relationship becomes remarkably more precise.  However, voluntarily moving towards a feeling of being out of control is not the first thing that comes to mind for people in a stressful conversation.  In fact, the exact opposite is the obvious, more habitual reaction.  Therefore, what are we talking about here?  What is it to voluntarily, consciously choose to be out of control and how is it beneficial to achieve what we want in important relationships?

 

When we look at the possibility of changing the way we behave when stressed out or when trying to break into a new life direction, we fall short in finding answers that get us beyond how we habitually act today.  We ask for a promotion, try diets, go back to school, and move to a new town or new job, never realizing that we are harnessed to our hardwired parent-feelings and associated hardwired behavior.  Our hardwiring will enforce default behavior on any change we attempt to make towards our “normal” life and relationships.  This will continue to happen until we understand parent-feelings creation, purpose and power over our lives.

 

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Sub-Personality Control

First, it is a universal, visceral human reaction to want to stay in control.  Being in control is core to our psychological and physical survival.  At the parent-feeling level, it is black or white – feeling in control is good, feeling out of control is bad.  Being controlled by others is dire.  Learning to control originates and is hardwired in infancy, and is unique to each individual.  When a child is stressed, he/she seeks relief (control) in any way that is available in the environment. 

 

If relief is unavailable, the natural process of the psyche is to split into sub-personalities that control our feelings and behavior while living in the family environment.  By then end of the toddler years, these sub-personalities are unconscious dictators, well established as a strong aspect of our core personality.  These sub-personalities dominate behavior in order to protect and manage conflicting feelings during times of stress. 

 

These early childhood experiences also remain as the root cause for our control issues as adults.  This is why personal preferences are so deep-seated and unbendable regarding the need to stay in control at all cost; even when the cost may results in the loss of family, friends, jobs or health.  Our early childhood sub-personalities can be seen as our preferences and our addictive-compulsive behavior when we are stressed as adults. 

 

·     

Voluntary Chaos

Second, where is the advantage in being emotionally out of control?  Moreover, in what situations does being out of control give us what we long for from others: to be seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued? How do we get to this state of voluntary chaos?  Primarily by learning about and surrendering to what actually gets us what we want from others.  What works is to learn what surrendering to chaos means or being in the state of voluntarily chaos.

 

Our hardwired sense of being in control is relative to what we feel is normal.  Normal is based on our parent-feelings model handed down to us.  Choosing to feel out of control, from a hardwired perspective, makes no sense at all, given what we have experienced in life.  Out of control equates to trouble with others and limitations imposed on future opportunities.  Others are out of control, not us.  When others say we are out of control they are mistaken.  We may have strong opinions or may act out aggressively at times, but we are not out of control. 

 

So, how do we know if we are being controlled by our hardwiring?  Anytime we act on a belief, or act out a behavior that does not get us seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued, we are in our hard wiring’s control.  The acting out may feel normal to us, but we are not giving to nor getting what we desired from others.  Then what is and is not voluntarily surrendering to chaos?

 

Surrendering to voluntary chaos is:

·      Being reliable for expressing two feelings at the same time (personal-feelings and parent-feelings).

·      Being responsible for showing up for family, friends and co-workers with both parent-feelings and personal-feelings fully present.

·      Being constructive, helpful and mindful about the affect of our behavior on others.

·      Being responsible for our own mental, emotional and physical health.

 

Surrendering to voluntary chaos is not:

·      Being irresponsible to the basic maintenance of every day personal, family and work life.

·      Being irresponsible concerning commitments made to family, friends, co-workers or one’s health.

·      Being destructive or hurtful to others.

·      Being irresponsible for the affect of our behavior on others.

 

·     

Prerequisite

Voluntarily choosing to be out of control or feeling temporarily chaotic, allows for a essential prerequisite to emerge.  This prerequisite allows us the freedom to

feel two feelings simultaneously

- our own personal-feelings and our parent-feelings – when we are in conversation with others.  This prerequisite

enables personal-feelings to surface and become present long enough to be expressed without being repressed by the sub-personalities that activate the overriding parent-feelings

.  Voluntarily being out of control opens our hardwired, controlled sub-personalities to an experience of “anything can happen!”  This is where the out of control part comes from.  If “anything can happen,” then we feel we have no control.  These are

disturbing feelings

to anyone struggling to stay within their sense of normal.  Yet, these are

welcome feelings

, though not without accompanying anxiety, to anyone wanting to access personal-feelings, use them to counter parent-feelings and to resolve challenging relationship issues that have not been resolvable before.

 

So, what is the connection between accessing personal-feelings and feeling out of control?  It is like moving to a new town.  First, as we pack up our possessions and hit the road, there is a sense of being in-between or a form of being out of control.  Our roots have been pulled up and bridges burned.  Our personal-feelings surface with our parent-feelings. 

 

As we settle into the new town, we become excited by our new surroundings and hopeful toward the new relationships we will develop.  As time passed, parent-feelings begin to become dominant once again, as daily life becomes more complicated and problematic.  When change assaults our normal life, our “normal” is confronted and natural agitation moves towards anxiety. 

 

This example of being out of control, as precipitated by the relocation and settling into a new city, is easy to understand during such life changing events as a move.  Our default behavior is diverted to tasking, and our personal feelings arise naturally.  For a while it is easy to express hidden personal-feelings while our hardwiring (parent-feelings) is preoccupied with driving, unpacking, meeting new people and the general logistics of moving and settling into work.  However, this state will not continue for long.  When our container runs out of bandwidth for tolerating change, we are once again stunned to be experiencing our old parent-feelings we thought we had left behind in the last town.

 

 

What happens when these two feelings clash during a conversation?  Usually parent-feelings quickly begin to assert themselves over personal-feelings.  From a hardwired perspective, this is done to protect us from what we viscerally feel is a threat to our survival.  This statement is not over dramatic.  The root of this visceral feeling began with a learned survival model from early childhood experience.  From the survival-child feeling level, it feels like our very existence is being threatened.

 

The challenge of being aware of default parent-feelings, those that suppress personal-feelings, is more difficult during casual conversations.  The suppression happens so stealthily that we are unable to sense when our personal-feelings evaporate back into our psyche’s shadow.  Parent-feelings, under stress, feel “normal” to us, even in the face of being obviously unsuccessful in achieving the results we wanted.

 

Learning to surrender to this loss of control becomes a new merging of two behaviors during stress.  In fact, the stressful feelings are a fundamental clue that surrender to being out-of-control is now required.  It feels like we are being asked to walk towards a striking rattlesnake, when our hardwired reaction goes off.  It feels “counter to survival” when we try to override our instincts. We feel out of control and vulnerable

 

 

·      For example, lets say you are feeling misunderstood at work.  A peer seems to have it out for you.  He goes out of his way to make it seem to others that you are incompetent in your job.  Parent-feelings arise and bring up a defensive posture.  At this point, we have three options.  First, we can ignore the person and be detached from their verbal attacks.  In some situations, with certain people, we have all walked away from behavior we are not wired to react to.  Second, we can react and become defensive.  We can lead with our feelings, react to the other person’s behavior and enter a contest of hardwired wills. 

Third, we can acknowledge we are reacting to specific, hypersensitive behavior that is making us uncomfortable, state that the behavior is not necessary to get your attention, and then speak to the other’s core intentions.

·     

 

·     

Peer:  “

 

New Option: Assumptions About Behavior

However, in order to surface and sustain this new behavior, conscious discomfort, we need some reminders or incentives as to why we are willing ourselves to stay with the discomfort, and ways to keep us going in a results oriented direction.  Following are a few suggestions:

 

·      When we are in a threshold conversation, we are stressed.  We are unable to move it beyond disagreement to mutual resolution.  New options can give us personal relief and aid in resolving relationship roadblocks.  To do this we need to establish several assumptions about people.

o   No other person is holding back a better relationship model.  Under stressful relationships, the model that is used is the hardwired one.

o   Other people are not understood only by their behavior or good intentions.  Good intentions are conditional (acceptable to some, not by others) and will only help to understand people’s hopes, dreams and motivations.  However, good intentions will not resolve relationship threshold blockages.

o   Only Core Intentions are reliable, unconditional (accepted by everyone) and constant with all people.  Core Intentions suggest that all people want the same thing from others - to be seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued, regardless of any behavior acted out.

o   Intentional Language is used to get seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued by others, regardless of any behavior acted out.

·     

 

·      In summary, all people want to be seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued by others.  Early childhood conditioning will prevent this by raising defensive behavior rather than cooperative behavior.  Regardless of our good intentions, early childhood conditioning will over rule it to survive illusionary threats.

 

·      New Option:

o   Hardwiring: Understanding personal hardwiring can help us understand other’s hardwiring – why they act the way they do.

o   Default Behavior:  Understand people are primarily defined by their Core Intentions and secondarily by their behavior – verbal or non-verbal.

o   Core Intentions: Understand that all people have the same Core Intentions – to be seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued by others.  These are unconditional and reliable.

o  

New Option:

Use Intentional Language to speak to other’s Core Intentions directly, which will immediately alter other’s behavior and move the conversation towards mutual resolution.  The use of this new option, Intentional Language, requires us to act and feel in a way that is different than the way we were conditioned.  Rather than feeling one feeling at a time (parent-feelings of right or wrong, good or bad), we must learn to feel two feelings at the same moment, in our bodies.

 

 

Containing Two Feelings In The Same Space

 

We are conditioned since childhood to know right from wrong, good from bad and what is preferred and what is not.  This conditional begins by teaching us how to survive in a family.  Later on, teachers, friends and co-workers continually reinforce it.  As unique as we each are, the coloration of our preferences are as unique as our fingerprints. 

 

There is only one circumstance during any conversation where parental-feelings will cease suppressing our hidden, authentic, personal-feelings. 

That condition occurs when we are able to feel both our parental and personal-feelings at the same time.

 

 

By using Intentional Language, we speak to other’s core intentions.  Only then, can we communicate what is missing in order to be seen and understood, and at the same time keep both people in the conversation.

 

What is so hard about recognizing, under stress, when our communication model has run out of options? 

·      Our communication model has run out of options because we are unable to feel both parent-feelings and personal-feelings at the same moment (in the same container) while in conversation.  When stressed, we default to parent-feelings, and our personal-feelings are repressed.  Other’s behavior, the way they behave while communicating vs. what they are trying to communicate, becomes the sole source of understanding what they are trying to say.

 

What can be done when our reactive emotions are not helping resolve a misunderstanding? 

·      Understand our conditioned parent-feelings and learning a language that goes around reactive behavior.  This is what we refer to as Intentional Language.

 

We are not always asking that others agree with us; we would appreciate that our position be acknowledged as acceptable.  Lack of acknowledgement is central in beginning to understand why miscommunications accelerate, if what we really want is to be seen and understood.  In daily life, we are in this situation many times and are perplexed when reactive behavior keeps asserting itself.  Could it be that we have run out of relationship options, but never knew it?  The answer is yes.  Most people live their whole lives being unaware that their parent-feeling behavior has sever limitations and is actually the cause of miscommunications.

 

Everyone at sometime has felt the frustration of not being seen and understood, yet we remain perplexed as to how to improve the situation.  Books written on the subject of relationship, communications, motivation, leadership and management essentially say the same thing we have heard all of our lives,

“You have bad habits, stop using them. Do this instead.”

  This advice is well intended, no matter how it is worded by each author, but will do little to:

 

·      Help us understand why we habitually react the same way to specific behavior in others, and

·      Help us change our unproductive behavior during a real-time conversation to mutually productive results.

 

 

 

To understand how our model of relationship/communication runs out of options, we need to ask the questions and explore the limitations of our current model. 

 

·      “When does my model break down?

·      “What behaviors trigger emotional reactions?

·      “Who are the people that trigger emotional reactions?

·      What are the situations that trigger emotional reactions?

·      What are the behaviors I consistently use when reacting?

·      When do I act like the person I am reacting too?

·      What is my part in, my investment in, keeping the situation dysfunctional?

·      Do I really want to know the answers to these questions?

 

One way to access our authentic feelings in daily life, is to begin by asking questions and seeking answers that go beyond

“Its just the way I am!  I can’t change my lifelong habits, nor do I want to change the ones that have made me successful.”

  In answer to this common statement, here is a counter question – “How is it working for you with . . .?”  Just insert the person’s name.

 

For most of us it could be said that some of

 

·      “I’m aware of repeating a behavior unsuccessfully when I approach Phil for help.  When I ask him to be a sounding board he is always busy and I get indignant.  How can I ask Phil for the same help in a different way?”

o   Make the request in the form of an invitation to help you achieve something.

·      “I want to take responsibility for the effect of my behavior on Mary.  How can I re-approach her when I am not getting the results I want on the first try?”

o   The reason we know we did not get through is that we feel the residue of an unsuccessful conversation.  Acknowledge this to the other person and ask their help in an approach that will work.

·      “How can I discover what behaviors of mine are causing employees to shutdown during a conversations?”

o   Ask them!

·      “Once I know these behaviors, how do I change them?”

o   Agree on a verbal or non-verbal signal that the other person can use at the first sign of the behavior.  This signal is one you are confident, when used, will keep you open to acknowledging and then changing the behavior immediately.

 


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© Scott Taylor 2016