How not to turn into your parents

Please, give me a rand for every time I see someone freak themselves out by something that their parents said to them slipping out of their own mouth. It’s funny to see, but it really can be distressing when we hear ourselves saying or see ourselves doing something exactly like our parents said or did to us, and particularly things we swore we’d never do.

So why, despite all our best efforts, do we all seem to fall into this trap?

The answer is simple, and also very relevant if you want to break this chain and bring up your kids in a healthy and conscious way.

Most of our lives are actually run on auto-pilot. We think that we are responsible for our behaviour and all the results that that behaviour produces, but it’s very obvious that we’re not when you consider the “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” phenomenon.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that some days you just feel amazing. No matter what the kids do or how loud they get, you’ve still got a smile on your face and a spring in your step. And then, on the other day, you wake up feeling like Cruella De Vil — the slightest shriek from the little ones and you feel like you’re growing fangs and nothing, nothing seems to go right.

Now the cause of this “wrong side of the bed” phenomenon is the same cause of the “turning into my parents” phenomenon, and it’s called conditioning. Yes, all the bad (and good) stuff that you picked up from your parents, teachers, friends and society and that actually runs your life. And this is the stuff that your kids are busy unconsciously picking up from you. They unconsciously absorb everything that you are living — what a relationship should look like, how much money it’s possible to make, what things are important to do, own or be, whether to be confident or insecure …

This is one of the most crucial things that parents need to deal with if they want to raise their kids consciously, otherwise you’ll simply pass on all the beliefs, values and morals that you picked up unconsciously in your own life.

So how? How do we pass on the values and beliefs that we really want to and not the ones that we got from our folks?

Firstly, by living it. Whatever you want to teach — live it. Kids learn not by what we say but by what we do — it’s a cliché for a reason!

Secondly, deal with your issues. Take the time and effort required to work on your issues, to face your fears, to figure out what you’ve picked up from your parents and to question everything. If you can’t do this alone, find a good coach — someone who knows how to work on the unconscious aspects of the mind.

And thirdly, make some space. Acting immediately, particularly when you’re upset, is just a reaction and comes from the unconscious. Choose to act consciously by making a small gap between the stimulus (eg your child whining) and your response. Just a second or two to evaluate how you’re going to act, or to take a deep calming breath, and then respond. Have a conscious response rather than an unconscious reaction. If you do react, take some time afterwards to reflect on what triggered you and what you can learn from the situation.

Every single moment in your life you have a choice — whether to live consciously or unconsciously. Start choosing to live a conscious life, start choosing to create a life for yourself and your kids that is different from the one your parents did, and enjoy the change not only for yourself but for every generation that comes after you.

Image – Gallo