Childhood Experiences-How They Define Us.Jul 29, 2022
Some people get very triggered when anything in regards to their childhood is brought up.
Perhaps their childhood is the best time they had in their life. Fair enough. Makes sense.
Perhaps they don’t understand the relevance of childhood experiences. Something happened so long ago- how the heck does it matter where I’m at now? Fair enough.
Some people are currently dealing with such toxic behavior walay people that their own parents seem like literal angels. Absolutely.
Some people maybe feel like it’s almost blasphemy, sacrilege and some form of grave sin to even suggest anything remotely resembling questioning our childhood. Also, understandable. After all, we’re raised in a society+culture where from a very young age, kids are constantly bombarded with the “rights of parents and elders” (even though no one ever really talks about the rights of children which come first when kids are little) but anyhow, I get it. I totally understand.
Here’s the thing though.
1- ‘Childism’ or believing that children are not really people worthy of the same respect and value as adults, is a global problem. When you live on this planet- you don’t even realize you’re imbibing in something so wrong when it’s the culture of the planet.
For example, children as young as a few DAYS old are classified as “easy” and “hard”, “good” and “bad”. Can you imagine how you would feel if you were classified constantly as “good” or “bad”? Actually if you’re a mom, you do and you know how much it kills you.
2- No matter how loving and kind someone’s parents are or were- they lived in a society where their own worth was measured by their child’s behavior. So much so that a child even expressing ANY feelings (anger or sadness), is considered a child who’s misbehaving.
Even after the wisdom and science in front of us that children have very “basic” brains and do not yet posses the skills to express feelings in a more effective way.. we continue to judge children based on their skills and in the mean time, we ourselves, WITH our fully developed brains, suck at emotional regulation.
This means that by the time a child was 4 years old (by the time our explicit memory is formed), we already KNEW to keep our mouths shut. We already knew we aren’t allowed to express emotions freely without being judged or most likely, penalized for it in some way.
3- Rememeber that babies are born with a hundred million neural connections, these will be reduced to less than half by the time they’re adults. Why? Where will the extra neural connections (synapses) go?
To trash. That’s where.
Why are some neural connections kept and others sent to trash?
What do you think happens to a path in the dirt that’s ignored? Grass grows over it and it disappears with time. The path that’s constantly used, stays.
Which “paths” do you think stayed in our developing brains for how to express emotions? How to express ourselves? How to show up in our lives so we’re not judged?
Yup. I think we all know the answers to that question. (And relevance to why our childhood matters)
4- Finally- we can realize all this and STILL respect our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents etc. Because we know they did their best. We can still believe that they were absolutely sincere in everything they tried to do to raise us. 100%
Acknowledging our experiences so we can learn from them and grow from them is NOT a betrayal of our parents but again, it FEELS like it because... neural connections.
I will acknowledge for you though, that we first have these realizations, sometimes, there’s some anger towards all adults in our life. That’s also a part of our journey. I don’t suggest going up to everyone in your life and confronting them. That’s not helpful. You don’t really need that kind of closure (though it would be wonderful)- I mean you CAN move on without that closure. Just notice your feelings of anger, register them and wait for them to pass through. Next you’ll feel compassion for yourself. Compassion... not pity. Embrace that. You will need it on your onward journey because...
If we’re going to build new neural pathways- we have to be aware of what’s already there or else we aren’t going to understand why we keep screwing up. We will keep beating ourselves about it and never moving forward. It’s like building a new city on top of an old one. It’s HARD WORK. Cue that compassion we gathered for ourselves. We NEED it.
All this to say- as always, when something triggers us, we want to investigate.. not attack.