Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
It is often traced back to our childhood our inherent need not to be wrong. To make mistakes for many of us resulted in bringing unwanted attention. It brings up thoughts and emotions that we either didn’t know how to deal with or felt incredibly uncomfortable with.
Our childlike selves quickly worked out that some attention feels great and other attention feels bad. Then we simply set out to not experience those negative thoughts and feelings. As children that works out not too bad because we receive pats on the head and we get to feel good about ourselves. Not to mention the treats such as staying up a bit later, having that second scoop of ice cream or letting the dog sleep on the foot of the bed. Or the feeling of smugness when you look at your siblings who didn't manage to get the pat on the head.
By Raphaël Quinet from Liège, Belgium (Raspberry / Framboise)
As adults if we maintain that simplistic view of the world it can create situations which have us asking “how on earth did I end up here”. You see the avoidance of being perceived as wrong, making mistakes or being less than perfect sets us up in the dynamic of trying to convince the world that we are perfect and we do not make mistakes. In fact any hardship that we experience in the world is not our fault, someone else is responsible. That way we get to earn the pats on the head.
At first this seems like the ideal solution because we are never wrong and people will perceive as being just right. The problem is with this is that we have effectively given away the control of our lives. If we don’t own the so called “bad” aspects of our lives it renders us powerless to change anything.
We are effectively strapped into the back seat of the car we call our lives and we can’t reach the steering wheel. Scary at the worst, disappointing to say the least. We end up living unfulfilled lives as we are convinced that we have no influence over the events and people that we deem to be negative. We feel victimised and unfulfilled.
That is simply not true. As children we made this decision because it a reflection of the limits of our resources. We are not adults and we are dependent on the adults who are supporting us. The choices that we make as children will be influenced by the adults who comprise our supportive networks.
As adults we don’t sit in the booster seat in the back of the car any longer, therefore our thinking needs to reflect that. The problem is that life goes quickly we end up in adult bodies and still applying our childhood solutions. Children are limited by their age and subsequent dependence on adults therefore our childhood solutions will reflect that. Adults are not bound by the same restrictions.
By Unknown photographer
Adults get to sit behind the steering wheel and drive to the destination of their choice. However in doing so we can’t blame the GPS we have to take responsibility for the decisions we make, and that includes the ones that we aren’t proud of or comfortable with.
When we let go of the need to be perfect to feel worthy of anothers’ approval we open the door to personal freedom, and a full, well rounded, balanced life. It requires a world view that no longer labels emotions, thoughts or feelings as good or bad. It also requires that you accept that your emotions, thoughts or feelings don’t label you as good or bad.
You are simply a human being having a human experience. Sometimes you will make choices that will enhance your life and sometimes you won’t. Your response to those less than life enhancing choices will be to resolve to make a better one next time. You will not deny them or try to blame them on another. You will accept them as a learning opportunity and move on.
That is how we know that our adult self has finally taken their rightful place in the drivers seat.