I hope that Thanksgiving was special for you and that some positive form of “family” (of origin or of choice) was experienced. Family or origin, or lack of it, creates optimal strengths for the future or serious wounds that delimit growth potential. The holidays bring forth the deepest emotions about family. More so than any other time of year.
John Bradshaw has been one of the foremost teachers in helping people understand the deepest part of who they are and how they got that way. His many books, beginning with THE FAMILY, and PBS appearances have been impactful to those willing to look at themselves and the life they lead.
HOMECOMING is another of Bradshaw’s seminal books. I would like to share some of its key concepts with you, plus my added commentary. Emphasis here will be on some of the major contaminants of a healthy personality. You may well see yourself in one or more of the categories. Take a gander at these “wounded” personality traits.
1. CO-DEPENDENCE: This person has not developed a true identity from within. S/he is out of touch with the deepest feelings, needs, and desires. S/he depends on others for a sense of self. Often this person is a “human doing”, out of touch with his or her true “being” side. Certain basic childhood needs were unmet blocking the ability of the person to know who s/he is.
2. OFFENDER BEHAVIORS: These folks take no responsibility for their behavior. They often are reckless in their way of life. Beware, these are dangerous people to have in your life.
3. NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIORS: These people have an insatiable craving for love, attention, and affection. Everything is about them. Often they need excessive materialistic things to give them a sense of self worth. Often they develop some sort of addictive personality – either positive or negative.
4. TRUST ISSUES: These people usually are on guard and very much in control. This keeps them safe and also emotionally untouchable. You will not get close to them.
5. ACTING OUT/ACTING IN: This type either “acts out” with anger or “acts in” with fear and depression.
6. MAGICAL BELIEFS: These people develop an unreal belief system that they can buy into so that they can feel secure or have self worth. It is hard for these people to be grounded in reality and accountability.
7. INTIMACY DYSFUNCTION: These people move back and forth between fears of abandonment and a fear of engulfment. “Don’t leave me”. “Don’t get too close”. Thus the walls protecting emotional hurts that keep the other out, stay tall and deep.
Most people have some or much of the above wounded personality parts. There are no perfect people, except for the “narcissistic” who live in their own distorted hedonistic world. Much of the above mentioned weaknesses come from early childhood experiences. Besides genetic orientation, a person’s experience in the family, or not having family, is the greatest factor in the development of one’s personhood.
Hopefully you have been open enough to objectively see a part of yourself portrayed above that you can continue to work on being the best person you can be. If you are such a person you love yourself, are aware from whence you have come, and are capable of giving and receiving love. If there is further work to be done I encourage you to do your HOMECOMING work. To be in touch with the deepest part of your being is worth the effort!
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates