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Seeing the world through the eyes of our parents

It’s not easy to find our own way while carrying the parental voice inside us. It carries the words, spoken and unspoken, and the messages we received from our parents from the first day of our life. The unspoken messages through behaviors, eye contact, and body language are often stronger than anything spoken. In any case, our basic belief system originates from home and from watching and listening to our parents interacting with us, others and between themselves.

The main reason for unequivocally adopting those beliefs and making them our own is out of love for our parents. It is what we would call ‘blind love’, but nonetheless, it is out of love. As children, we don’t analyze and contemplate what we are told. This is an ability that develops during the later stages of our lives. By that time our clarity is often so tainted that it becomes difficult to make decisions with complete awareness. When we are young, we accept the words of our parents about others and ourselves as the truth, and we share this truth because we love them.

We see, understand and judge the world we live in through the filter of these beliefs and values. We compartmentalize people by putting them into boxes that were created by our parents so that we may judge a person for his successes and failures, status, academic achievements and any other traits. It doesn’t matter if this judgment is positive or negative because it is done through our personal filter of beliefs and values, and it still remains a judgment.

The search for our own way

As we progress in our lives and strengthen our own personality and character, we also interact with more people without the presence and weight of our parents. Our friendships, relationships of love and practical relations gradually create a reality in which we interact with others in our ways and it is a reality we create. In it, we may find many voices directing us to act and judge. A big part of the judgment may be directed towards ourselves for having many different voices, or for acting and thinking like our parents.

And yet, many choices we make (or don’t make) around our partnerships or work are influenced by that very inner parental voice we carry. When we notice that this is happening, we tend to feel that it’s not completely our life we’re living, but that of someone else. An understanding that pushes us to take distance in order to find our own way, and it’s a distance that bears the potential for finding it.

A prominent strategy to counter this internal dilemma of identification is to distance ourselves from our parents and to say we are not like them. We may even go further and be angry with them and disconnect ourselves from home. The distance that is created provides a certain relief at first and we may feel strength. This strength takes on many shapes, such as being better, more intelligent, more sophisticated or more presentable than our parents. However, what also happens through this distance is a sense of loss and disconnection, because we also lose touch with our roots.

Real maturity requires courage

Nevertheless, the longing for freedom may be so strong that the only option seems to be to cut ties with them just so that we don’t hear their judgments and criticism about the way we live our lives. What we’re really missing out on though is the chance to mature and sense real freedom. Freedom, however, comes at a price because we have to contain the guilt we feel for not living according to someone else’s values and beliefs. When we can own the reality we’re creating and can stand behind our choices with awareness, something inside us matures and becomes truly independent.

The parental voice is an integral part of us and never leaves us. We can revolt, be angry and disrespect, but in effect, we point the finger at ourselves. We lose what is precious in our lives and can potentially provide us with a lot of strength – our parents. It is not necessary to kill the parental voice, but rather to be aware when our parents are talking in the background. Only then can we truly start to distinguish what belongs to us and what we carry with them.

This process happens regardless of age. Whether we’re 18 and have physically left home or we are 60 and our parents have already gone. The internal struggle to find our own inner voice without the interference of parental judgment through beliefs and values usually remains. It is something we received with love and it is something to keep with love. A love that can look at something that belongs to someone else and simply respects it.  Courage is needed to find our own voice, not in reaction or negation to our parents, but as a result of respecting our needs and longing in our own life.