Relationships

Do You Feel Guilty About Being Angry With Your Parents?

I grew up in a family where emotions weren't expressed cleanly; especially challenging emotions like anger. Everyone feels angry from time to time, but growing up I got the sense that there was something wrong with this basic human emotion because nobody talked about it. My parents never seemed to say directly that they felt angry; but it was obvious when they were and their anger came out in ways that I found very frightening and destructive. [caption id="attachment_2943" align="alignright" width="300"]It's OK To Be Angry With Your Parents It's OK To Be Angry With Your Parents[/caption]

Everyone around me seemed ashamed of their anger. Over time, I learned to feel ashamed of my anger too. I denied, suppressed and internalized it as though I was doing something righteous and noble. But the repressed rage built up inside me until eventually as an adult I developed overwhelming anxiety, panic attacks, depression and even a physical illness.

This forced me to wise up and realize that there was nothing noble about denying my anger. But with poor role models for expressing anger constructively in my family of origin and in society at large, who was I to turn to for help?

My answer came in the form of enlightened therapists who understood that anger is a perfectly normal emotion whose purpose is to motivate us when our needs aren't getting met. A powerful energy that needs to be channeled and expressed constructively; not internalized, denied, suppressed or misdirected.

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By Graham Stoney, ago
Relationships

The Day I Finally Stood Up To My Critical Mother

My mother and father are still together after 50 years of marriage. They are good, church going people who are very community minded. They show love by acts of service and are often kind and generous to other people. But the way my critical mother treats my largely passive father is toxic, and I recently took the opportunity to stand up to their behaviour in order to reverse the negative effects it has had on my own life. Here's how it panned out: [caption id="attachment_2396" align="alignright" width="300"]Standing Up To A Critical Mother Standing Up To A Critical Mother[/caption] Recently my parents and I all attended my maternal aunt's 90th birthday party, along with my maternal cousins, my two older sisters, and all their husbands/wives and families. We spent the weekend in a lovely guest house in the country and since it was a long drive for my aging parents, they asked me to give them a lift there and back. I am a little apprehensive because I know the way my parent's behaviour often triggers me, but I see it as an opportunity to connect with them and spend some additional quality time together. The two-hour drive to the guest house is relatively uneventful, with occasional friendly chatter and lunch at my parents' favourite cafè on-route. However, I am starting to notice the pattern in my parents relationship that often upsets me: my mother “corrects” everything my father says, in a way which sounds critical and belittling to me. His reaction is to withdraw and shut down in response to this criticism; a common trait I particularly dislike in myself. Initially, I just witness what is happening and my internal reaction. But over the course of the weekend as I notice more and more incidents where my father says something that my mother thinks is foolish, wrong or otherwise in need of correction, I become increasingly agitated. In my ideal world, all the years of therapy and emotional healing that I've had would insulate me from the effect of this and I'd be free to let them relate however they choose without me being triggered. But in the real world, I'm not that enlightened. Not yet, anyway. (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Self Esteem

How to Recover from a Critical Parent

Having one or more critical parents can put a sledgehammer through your childhood confidence and leave effects lasting long into adulthood. If your father or mother responded with criticism and judgment instead of joy and delight when you did what came naturally, you may have felt as if there was something wrong with you and internalized their critical voice inside your head. You learned to hold back and now every time you step out of line or go to express yourself naturally, you rebuke yourself first instead. This will seriously undermine your self-confidence and your relationships with other people... especially women.

But there is hope. Here's How to Recover From a Critical Parent:

Understand That Criticism Is About Projection and Loneliness

Critical people are stuck in a perpetual vicious cycle of projection, pain, loneliness and disconnection. They've been hurt at some point in the past when they felt vulnerable and they're still carrying this wound in their psyche. Often they're afraid of facing the pain they feel around this and don't know how to deal with the unpleasant emotions involved, or perhaps they aren't even consciously aware of it. The criticism that pushes people away further prevents them from experiencing the deep connections with others that would reduce their loneliness and heal the very hurt they are avoiding by criticizing others.… Continue reading…

By Graham Stoney, ago