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I Can't Be Me!

Image of child with priority mail box on their head.

Do you ever ask yourself, “What do I want?” and you have no idea what the answer might be? When you meet a friend, are you afraid to say what it is you want and need? Are there times when you feel empty inside and nothing seems to satisfy your needs? Do you feel alone in a crowd, as though you don’t fit in? Does it feel like you are separate and distant even with your closest friends? Is there a low level of depression and dissatisfaction that you carry with you?

Perhaps you had to give up what you wanted as a child. Pathological accommodation is when children have to mold themselves to the needs and desires of their parents, rather than having the safety and freedom to develop who they are. This occurs when the parent’s psychological organization cannot accommodate the changing developmental needs of the growing and developing child.

This puts the child in a position where they have to make a choice between the relationship with the parent and abandoning their individuality. Individuality will lose every time because the attachment with the parent is necessary for survival. This is a developmental conflict for which the child has only one solution…pathological accommodation.

The Child Will Accommodate to What is Available

The child is not allowed to develop an internal self. Instead of a self that feels like it lives inside and accompanies them in life, the adult has an empty space where that self should be.

Pathological accommodation makes it impossible to claim and sustain a life of one’s own. Not having a developed self leads to depression, anxiety and loneliness. To develop and preserve a self, you must battle against the external and internal obstacles to it unfolding.

Children need parents who are fully developed and have a cohesive, vigorous and harmonious sense of self. Parents who can respond with supportive pride, encouragement and affection. When children have parents who respond to the child’s uniqueness, growth and development with indifference, criticism and/or competition it creates external obstacles to the child’s development. These responses lead to the disintegration of the newly discovered sense of self, and once again the child must accommodate to the needs and desires of the parent.

Internal obstacles refers to the beliefs that develop when a child must bury his or her individuality so that he or she can maintain the connection with their parent. There is an internal drive to develop and become who you are, and when this is in conflict with the parents needs and desires, there is an internal struggle between the desire to grow and the desire to remain safe.

This creates a feeling of being unaware of one's own role in developing his or her own life. Life is experienced as if it does not belong to them. They do not know that they have the power and choice to influence and create their own life. The situation creates false beliefs that become obstacles to developing a true self.

For Example:

  • “Something is inherently wrong with me. I am flawed and have been since birth. I can never be fixed.”

  • “Others see me as flawed, different and unacceptable. I will never fit in; there is not a place for me in this world.”

  • “Having relationships from a distance is the only possibility. Being close only brings pain, disappointment and abandonment.”

These Beliefs Create Feelings of:

  • Loneliness: a shadow feeling carried all the time. It is profound and there is a need for constant activity in order to avoid feeling it.

  • Depression: It permeates every action and every thought. No matter how good something is, how happy they feel in the moment, deep inside there is depression lurking around ready to surface at any moment.

  • Hopelessness and doom: Things may momentarily improve but happiness, contentment and fulfillment will never be a possibility.

When children have to modify themselves to accommodate the important people in their lives, there is a part of themselves locked inside. The true self needs to be discovered and nurtured.

Five Ways to Unlock Yourself

1. Pay attention to mood changes:

Notice when your feelings shift from one state to another. Name the feelings. Replay what happened to precipitate this change.

2. Question your assumptions about your life:

We are programed to think and believe in ways that we are not aware. This programming begins before we are old enough to notice and decide for ourselves. Many of the assumptions we make are based on a time when we had to accommodate ourselves to our parents.

3. Identify the expectations you have, and how they developed.

4. Listen to and identify the thoughts that go through your mind uninvited:

There exists in every mind a constant litany of thoughts and feelings. This is called the stream of consciousness. Most of the time, we do not hear it or it is background noise that is muted and indistinct. However, that emotional background noise influences how we feel and behave. Listen to what is playing in your mind so you can decide what you think and believe.

5. Just because you think it it does not make it true:

Test your thoughts against reality. Ask a friend or trusted adviser if what you are thinking fits with the facts of what is happening.

The journey to find your true self is a hard one, but it can be accomplished. It is a journey that will lead you to a greater satisfaction in life.

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