In last month’s column, I used stick figure drawings to demonstrate what life looks like when I refuse to go inside myself to find happiness and contentment. As I stated in my first article (Aug. 17) all of us (regardless of race, culture, or circumstances of the family into which one was born) learned to be Externally Unhealthily Focused individuals to survive.
Survival is just that, getting by. If I am ever going to learn to be an Internally Healthily Focused individual then I need to examine my early childhood and find out how I survived my childhood. There are no perfect parents, no perfect family, and no perfect individuals. Thus, each of us adopted a survival technique very early on in life. What was my survival technique?
Let’s look at an example family. Perhaps the parents deal with issues by never talking about them. This method usually causes an underground silent warfare. Everyone in the household is aware of the tension but no one admits that there is tension in their family. This is a Passive Aggressive approach to dealing with issues.
Other parents may be physically, emotionally abusive to each other and to the children. They deal with their issues in an Overt Aggressive manner. Then, of course, there is the mixed type of parenting when one is passive and the other is overt in their way of dealing with issues. The passive partner survives often by being a workaholic, alcoholic, gambler, internet-aholic and any other escape method you can think of to not deal with partner or issues.
The children (and we were once those children) observe the family dynamics and create a survival technique as a way of adapting to the family dynamics. Some of us survived by going unnoticed, not drawing attention to myself so as not to get yelled at or whacked.
Another child became the high attention seeker which often meant she/he got into trouble in school and/or at home. Another child survived by getting praise for their high grades in school, their sports achievements or artistic abilities. Another child oversleeps, talks, eats their way through family tensions which in some situations leads to psychosomatic sicknesses in childhood.
As adults we are given the opportunity of looking at how I survived my childhood so that I do not continue to merely survive but choose to live life. Note I cannot go from an Externally Unhealthily Focused person (changing dots, refers to article Oct. 12) to an Internally Healthily Focused person without self-discipline.
Remember, we practiced whatever our survival technique was for (x) number of years so it will take self-discipline to start jourmaling as a way of getting in touch with how I am the person I am today because of the survival technique(s) I choose. I did it to myself.
So, now it is in my power to be the person who is self-disciplined because I now realize that without self-discipline I am a slave. I merely survive but I do not live. Self-discipline is freedom. It’s about me. I can keep changing dots or I can have the dot inside of me.
Kathleen Kelly is a Chemainus resident and author of the book ‘The Tornadoes We Create.’