Who Are We?
We are people struggling to be happy.
In spite of our successes we are lonely and full of fear and self doubt. We look around and we see others who appear to be enjoying their life. We seem out of the loop. We feel isolated with our discontentment and lonely because we seem to be the only one.
On the outside we seem confident but we carry a chronic belief we are fraudulent. We maybe under achievers and struggle to maintain jobs, careers and fail to exploit our unique talents. Our self-harm and self-hate leads down a path of hardship from which we find impossible to escape.
We may have indulged in use of drugs, alcohol or food, gambling, work and sex addiction. We may participate in other unhelpful behaviour like hyper-criticism, perfectionism, hypochondria, creating drama, shutting down or shutting others out.
Many of us have become severely co-dependent, in other words, have an excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity. As a result our relationships with other people are guided by our fear of being abandoned.
This results in us playing out our destructive role as we try to ‘fix’ ourselves through loveless relationships. The fear also drives us to make decisions that sabotage our chance of happiness. We feel overly responsible for others’ feelings and we are concerned more about them than ourselves.
Why are we like this?
We have never been taught to love. And we have never felt truly loved.
We were raised in families where the needs of the children were not taken care of. Even more than that, there may have been abuse in the family. This was verbal, sexual, religious or physical abuse or physical and emotional neglect; in all cases the effects on us have been devastating. We grew up with the idea that this was normal. The effects of that home life have deeply affected us into adulthood.
We grew up in a home where there was constant exposure to abuse or neglect, and we developed a poor definition of ourselves. Our self-esteem was further damaged by inconsistent responses from our parent and these responses made us feel confused, powerless and helpless. We blamed ourselves for the problems and anger between our parents. We lost faith in the adults to take care of us and we thought we had to look after ourselves. We learned to walk on eggshells so’s not to upset the adults and create further abuse or to try and please them. This is where we learned to become people pleasers.
By witnessing fighting between our parents, we began to act out by fighting other children. We were so overwhelmed with anger but unable to express this within our family so we became aggressive towards others. We were seen as bullies but we were badly hurting inside.
We learned to bury our anger and, as a consequence, became depressed. Self harm and suicidal thoughts ensued. We shut ourselves away from our peers as a way to cope and we lost interest in playing, school work and creative activities. We looked like we were bored but we were in survival mode. We lost the ability to concentrate and began to suffer from emotional disorders, stuttering, phobias, and nightmares and as a result of these, psychosomatic illness.
The old family rules
We grew up with some unspoken rules:
Don’t challenge the old ways
Don't tell anyone
Don’t feel anything
Don’t trust anyone
Don't question anything
Stay loyal - in spite of the hurt
And now, as adults....
As adults we often deny there was any dysfunction in our family. We denied our feelings as children in order to survive the chaos. We still cannot see the dysfunction in ourselves because to see it would be too painful. Instead we prefer to be focused on people, places and things outside of ourselves. Many of us, when asked how we feel, would not know. We learned to bury our feelings and we still do this as adults.
Although we were victims of abuse as children and continue to feel like victims as adults, there is another side to our personalities. We have also become aggressors. As adults we hurt and we try to protect ourselves by frightening others when they assert themselves. We find people we can manipulate and project our self hate onto them and then punish them. Or, we become relationship anorexic because we can’t let people close to us for fear of being abandoned. And we believe this is normal.
The program helps us to identify our hurts so we can take action to heal. And change our behavior towards others.