An excerpt from How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult by Ira Israel
Every adult wants to live a version of what he or she imagines is “the good life.” Yet, many struggle with a default voice in their heads that tells them that whatever they do will never be good enough and that they will only be happy when they get a new job, relationship, physical appearance, etc.
In How to Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening, author and psychotherapist Ira Israel explains that the origin of this voice of dissatisfaction is the wounded child within who is subconsciously and retroactively seeking the acceptance, approval, and love of primary caregivers who either withheld love, loved us conditionally, or treated us in ways we did not understand.
We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book
Ram Dass said, “If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.” Although Americans enjoy more privileges and freedoms than people in many other countries, we grow up in a highly competitive society, where children are constantly pushed to get good grades and “achieve” various goals daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Whoever pushed us — usually our family members — wounded us by subconsciously informing us that whatever we did was “not good enough.” Even positive statements like “You’ll do better next time” may have unintentionally informed us that we were failures in some way. In adulthood, all of that (totally unintentional) wounding during childhood adds up to low self-worth, low self-esteem, and feeling unlovable or only conditionally lovable because we “do” certain things or look a certain way or have attained certain goals or a certain status.
Ram Dass’s famous quote becomes particularly poignant later in life whenever we actually do visit our primary caretakers, because that is often when we get triggered and our childhood wounds, or core wounds, are reopened. If I receive emergency phone calls from patients during the holiday season, I usually end up telling them: “That fight you are having with your mother/father/sister/brother is not about what you think it is about.” And then we discuss things that happened during the patient’s childhood — abandonments, betrayals, violations, humiliations, frustrations, feeling unheard, resentment for being told what to do and who to be, and so on — and we figure out what is going on at a subconscious level and at least develop a more interesting narrative.
The best tool I have found for these situations is mindfulness, because it teaches us to cultivate nonreactivity. Not reacting to dynamics that were established twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years ago is definitely the best way to modify them. And then we can make healthier, more compassionate long-term decisions that bode favorably for peace, love, and harmony.
The next time you are with family members and the situation gets heated, try thinking phrases to yourself such as: “Wow...isn’t that interesting! All of my daddy abandonment/withholding [whatever your core issue is] buttons are being pushed right now! I thought I had resolved that issue a long time ago! This is so interesting!” And then you can decide to take a walk or do something healthy instead of reacting and exacerbating the situation.
In particular, all “observing thoughts meditations” can be helpful. Please visit YouTube and spend a few minutes doing such meditations every day. You can think of it as exercising a muscle, as going to a gym for your mind. Once we learn to sit and observe how our minds operate, then when we are in situations that trigger us, we can make healthy choices — like choosing just to observe the triggers and being proud of ourselves for not reacting. For example, let’s say we are visiting our parents and our father or mother asks us to drive him or her to the store. Everything is going swimmingly until we have to park and our parent starts looking around nervously, then tells us: “More to the left, no now to the right — I said more to the left...no, more to the right.” He or she is trying to help us parallel park, but the wounded child in us hears: “I can never do anything right.” Mindfulness helps us direct our attention to the present moment, be in the present moment, and ignore and dissipate the negative voices that stem from our childhood.
Ira Israel is the author of How to Survive Your Childhood Now that You’re an Adult. A licensed marriage and family therapist and professional clinical counselor, Ira graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and holds advanced degrees in psychology, philosophy, and religious studies. He lives in Santa Monica, California, and you can visit him online at www.iraisrael.com.
Excerpted from the book How to Survive Your Childhood Now that You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening. Copyright ©2017 by Ira Israel. Printed with permission from New World Library.
"Life happens. Life in the flow."
We learn over time that nobody can solve our problems, but someone can guide you how to solve the problem. You may receive guidance through a teacher, a guru or even strangers that you run into every day. As we practice yoga we learn that the more we know, the less we truly know. Every day I am reminded how much I truly do not know; a very humbling experience.
Yoga teaches me to be present. To just live for being and enjoying life as it is right NOW. Not ten minutes from now, no five days ago, but right now. We are taught to get out of our heads, to release worries and fears of the past or the future and to only live for this very moment. Presence.
"Lead me from untruth to truth, lead me from darkness to light." ~ Buddha
Through yoga we are reminded that we do have a dark side as well as a light side. We are not to repress the dark side, but embrace that side of our Self. We are the yin and the yang. We ultimately cleanse the dark stuff we hold inside. We shine the light on this. We must make friends with dark side. Both positive and negative balance out the whole. Daily practice refines and improves our inner vision to see our Self more clearly. We no longer need to run from fears. Face them and say I'm not running from you anymore. So much is in our heads, so much dark is only in our heads, self-doubt judgment betrayal. Yoga grounds the body so that the light and dark sides of ourselves become clear. So much is truly untrue. But as we diligently practice we are able to find the middle ground and walk our centered balanced line in life. We gain balance in centered lightheartedness. We can have harmony in both light and dark.
"Yoga tells us that the world is actually a projection of our own thoughts and we can modify our inner world to manifest into our outer world. When our inside realm is at peace and in harmony, our outer world shines this projection back at us." ~ David, Jiva Mukti Yoga co-founder
Yoga is observation.
We can observe our world and see what part that is in us is begin reflected back to us. We can then see what part of us needs modification or adjustment in order to have our outer reality reflect back to us the peace, happiness and love we so greatly desire and deserve.
Yoga is already inside of you. Happiness is there. Yoga helps you peel away the onion layers to get to the core. To freedom. The deepest Divine connection to the Ultimate Light Source.
Come out of wanting and back into acceptance and Joy. A yogi or yogini can turn any situation into bliss. That is a yogi. Yoga is being now. Ultimate yoga is meditation. Just BE.
Yoga is love.
"Love is the light that dissolves all walls between souls." ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Through a dedicated practice of all forms of yoga we can participate in the world with a sense of freedom, unaffected from trauma, depression, anger, etc. The freedom is balance in both.
Maggie Anderson is a Yoga & Spiritual Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher, Integrated Energy Therapy® Master Instructor, Soul Coach®, Past Life Coach, Magnified Healing® Master Teacher and Angelights Messenger. She is the author of How I Found My True Inner Peace and Divine Embrace. You can contact Maggie at SpiritualCompassConnection.com.
"Follow Your Bliss. It's Your Spiritual Compass."