Often the reason we know we need relationship help is that our parents, or other authority figures, fitted us out with “fearing aids” that get in the way of healthy relationships!
We need to know how to turn them down when they are not needed. Of course, we also need to tune them in when it is wise to do so. But, not recognizing that they are “on” and interfering with accurate signals in relationships every moment, is a really destructive thing.
Parents and other adults in our young lives think they are doing us a service by telling us what to be afraid of, what to watch out for, what is unsafe. That can be a good thing, and can equip us with useful radar. Sure, you don’t put your hand on a hot stove, or run out into the street. Keeping us from potential pain is definitely their job. However, they also transmit what they are afraid of. Many of those things are from their experience and have nothing to do with us, or the development of our lives. It’s like that old adage:
A sweater is a coat a mother puts on her child when she herself is cold.
Fears are often things we transmit to our children by osmosis, by words, and by behaviors. If a parent thinks the world is a dangerous, uncaring, everyone-is-out-to-get-you kind of place, they will share that with their child. It may be by doing something as natural as letting the child hear too many adult conversations when they are ill-equipped to understand the words but definitely pick up the emotions. Adults have a tendency to tell their “ain’t-it-awful” stories to their friends in the hearing of children innocently playing nearby. You hear a story frequently, you pick up the content, verbal and emotional. Simple as that.
Of course, all too often, parents share their dramas with their children. A truly bad idea! Children need to be treated like children, not spoken to as if they were little adults. Recently, while mediating a divorce, it became clear that the parents were having discussions in front of their eight year old daughter. Because they thought they were discussing supposedly adult matters, they thought little about what the child was picking up.
There’s a great possibility of building in a “fearing aid” when the child is told that the parents don’t love each other anymore. At eight, the little girl is still somewhat egocentric and unable to differentiate herself from what is going on with her parents. She possibly takes it in that, if they can stop loving each other, they could stop loving her, too. This particular child has now shut down, is sad and unwilling to talk about what she’s thinking and feeling. I hope I can help by spending time with the child to prevent the installation of a “fearing aid”!.
That’s how we get “fearing aids’. They are delivered directly, or picked up in the environments in which we spend significant time. That might be home, school, church, or in the community.
Think back on the places you may have had some installed that you may not have realized and have not questioned.
No better time than the present to see your “fearing aids” in light of who you are today, how they may be interfering with relationship signals, and how you want to live your life. Relationship help gives you the insights you need to free yourself from “fearing aids”!
I’m Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor. If you think you’ve acquired some “fearing aids” that are actively interfering with the quality of your life and relationships, let’s talk. Let’s work together to put them in perspective so that you can take them out when required but keep them in the drawer the rest of the time.
It is unwise, unsettling and unhealthy to live with “fearing aids” every day. We can talk in my office or through Skype from wherever you are in the world.