My last post was about how we as adults have paradigm shifts early on in life. I spoke about how we begin to give ourselves false beliefs, essentially lying to ourselves about who we are. Those paradigm shifts started taking place at a very young age.
It’s become clear to me that the reason we made that paradigm shift was out of self defense and preservation. As children we were abused on one level or another to the point of having to protect ourselves. This abuse could have come in many different forms. Again, it’s not about what form the actual abuse was in but rather how it impacted us personally. That abuse/trauma could have taken many different forms including but not limited to:
1. Physical abuse
2. Sexual abuse
3. Emotional abuse
One form of childhood trauma that I think doesn’t get talked about enough and would probably fall under emotional abuse is shame. Shame is one of those things that has become so common in today’s society that I don’t even think most of us notice when it’s happening. I know because I was shaming my children without even knowing or being aware of it.
One common thing I’ve said before and I’m sure you’ve heard is when a parent gets mad at their child and says, “What were you thinking?” or “What is wrong with you?” On the surface it may not seem like much. However, to a small child or toddler this can go very deep. To a child, their parents are the God and Godesses in their life. Hearing this kind of abusive language makes them feel “less than”, “stupid”, “embarrassed”, “confused”, among other things. This shame that they feel as a result of hearing this can last for a lifetime and certainly well into adulthood. It’s language like this that sets the stage for how children begin to see themselves and think about themselves. When children feel these “less than” feelings early on awareness of their inherent nature gets obscured with lies. The child that was born loveable, good enough, worthy, and intelligent now sees him or herself through new lenses. A paradigm shift has taken place and now every meaning that child assigns to the thoughts they have is blurred by these new lenses.
So, as parents we have an incredible gift and responsibility. While our children are young and still living life aware of their inherent nature we can foster that. We can take steps to remind our children of their inherent nature. Every time we shame or abuse our children in any way we put holes in their inherent nature and help them form false beliefs about who they are. Children aren’t old enough to have boundaries and they are extremely impressionable. The shame, pain, and unresolved hurt that we carry from our own childhoods can’t be given to our children. Once we understand that much of who we are today is a result of what we were “given” as children we can begin to take the steps necessary to stop that cycle.
Loving our children isn’t just a feeling we have. To love our children is an act and an intentional one. Love has to be intentional, thoughtful, and with purpose. Loving our children starts with loving ourselves. Take a look at yourself and think about how you feel about yourself. Do you think you’re good enough? Do you think you’re attractive? Tender? Thoughtful? Intelligent? Worthy? Precious? Loveable? If you have difficulty in thinking any of these things could be true about you (and most of us do) then that is the first step. Just being aware that you feel this way about yourself will help to identify whenever you may be passing that on to your precious, loveable, worthy, and tender child.