Your parents live inside your subconscious and can run you. Conversely, if you push your way on your child, you strengthen their resistance.
The more we think that part of us (or our children) as bad, the more they run us unconsciously. There is a “parental part” of you that says, “We’re going on a diet. No more sweets!”
It awakens the “child part” of you that says, “Oh yes, I can, and you can’t stop me!” We have just created a power struggle within ourselves.
It happens with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, work, exercise- you name it, we can do anything so much that it’s “bad” for us.
What is the answer to this power struggle?
Accept your shadow side
First, imagine that your psyche (and your child) is like a pendulum. We have our evil side and a good side. The more we try to polarize our behavior (or our child) to the “good” side, the more wildly our pendulum will swing to the opposite side.
It is the yin and yang, embrace both because they are each valid and necessary to live. So yes, embrace your dark side!
The cosmic joke is that what we most hate in others is the very thing we don’t accept in ourselves.
To quiet the swing so that you can get more balanced in life, it is sometimes appropriate to allow some of what you deny yourself. Make a deal with yourself to have a piece of pie any night after dinner.
Then you won’t have to go “hog wild” (no pun intended) on a feeding binge because you don’t know when you’ll ever permit yourself to have pie again.
Check for the more deep-seated need. Ask yourself, “What need is not being fulfilled in this relationship or situation? Am I willing to say ‘no’ to this behavior, thereby making more room in my life for something better?”
Look deeper than your child’s oppositional behavior. What need does their behavior inappropriately attempt to get fulfilled?
How to embrace your dark side
Rename the “bad self” with an honoring name. Our negative behavior distracts us from seeing our core issues when we are not ready to take a look at them. Give your dark side a beautiful Indian name like Rainbow Fires, or a noble Greek name like Hercules.
Start thinking of your dark side as something that has protected you from your pain. Embrace your dark side as an essential part of you that has something to say.
Our inner battle distracts us from core issues. If we stay in the struggle of body image, substance addiction, workaholism, bad relationship issues, failure, and fear of success, we never have to look at the deeper problem.
These core issues can be quite severe, and each of you already has a good idea of what yours is.
It is the very thing that you dislike thinking about that occurred in your youth, either one time or repeatedly like incest or something as subtle as a disapproving parent whose praise you could never seem to earn, which can be emotionally devastating.
If you are ready to begin looking at the origin of your painful issues, it is a good idea to seek professional guidance as this can be a frightening and unfamiliar trek.
Once you appreciate, love, and synthesize your shadow side, it will no longer run you unconsciously or pop out in inappropriate ways. You will no longer draw people to mirror it for you, like your children.
You will naturally become more accepting of your children, thereby alleviating many of the power struggles. Have compassion for yourself when you catch yourself doing the “bad” behavior.
Give yourself unconditional love and affirm to learn from your mistakes. Set reasonable boundaries for what is appropriate to take care of you, and your children.
Don’t beat yourself! Then your shadow doesn’t have to go back underground and await an opportunity to pop out.
The wise masters say that in order to be whole, balanced, and integrated, we must love all aspects of ourselves, “good” and “bad.”
In the meantime, embrace your dark side. May the Force be with you!
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jane E Fendelman, MC counselor, author, speaker, has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education 1982 and Master of Counseling Degree 1993. She is an individual, marriage/couples, and child-family expert and is a twice certified Hospice Worker, Grief Counselor, Critical Incidence Debriefing Specialist and an Omni-Denominational Minister.
Jane is the founder of the Fendelman Metanoia Counseling Method for transformation. Metanoia is a total reversal in thinking or a spiritual awakening.