Children of dysfunctional families learn to “lawyer up” for every single conversation. We are defensive when the situation doesn’t warrant it, and spend our free time coming up with reasons why our feelings are justified. What is this obsession with being right, and why is it ultimately backfiring on our happiness?
Many of us have had to fight for attention in our childhood. Growing up, being noticed can feel like the difference between life and death. As adults however, we are seen as bitter, oversensitive and argumentative.
It’s a pattern that might feel safe, but keeps us locked in unhealthy relationships with people who are re-enacting their own trauma.
We fight so hard because being seen as “in the wrong” is our worst nightmare, and until we learn to question this rhetoric, we will forever remain children.
If this 12-point laundry list of adult children rings familiar, you are still living life as a victim.
For a long time I thought that if I’m not a victim and empathise with them, I will turn into an abuser. This black and white thinking is guided by fear. If we see manipulators everywhere, chances are we’re it.
Abusive childhoods teach us that our feelings are dangerous: they put us at risk of disturbing our caretakers and having our only source of affection removed. So we either disassociate from them, or throw them into everyone’s face as an excuse for our behaviour. Trauma can be an explanation for our behaviour, but never an excuse.
The only way to escape the vicious cycle of trauma that only breeds more pain is to become aware of our own emotions, for instance by using our felt sense. This will hurt a great deal as we’re encountering stowed up feelings, so the key is to have patience and have regular outlets for it. This is the only way to make sure we are not passing our pain and unhealthy patterns down to our children and friends. We deserve better than this.
It doesn’t matter who was right in your latest fall out with your friend, if your boss was too mean, your partner is condescending or your waiter was rude to you. That is not why we’re hurting. By not facing our childhood pain, we are projecting it onto every person we meet.
Imagine how freeing it can be to release this burden and wake up each morning without the pain of your past!