To recover from Toxic Parents is a lifetime of discovery, recovery, redefining and unlearning. We develop all of our false beliefs in childhood. We learn through how our parents treated us if we were lovable or not, good or bad, worthy or unworthy. They are our God's when we are little. We are dependent upon them, we believe them, and strive to be "good." This vulnerability is fractured when we have toxic parents. We must get our power back as adults and differentiate. Differentiating means you separate and individuate from the beliefs of your parents and find and claim your own ideas about yourself, life and people.
10 Steps to Differentiation and Reclaiming Your Life
1. Permission to Feel: We are often told not to feel as children, directly or indirectly. Our feelings mirror to our parents the ineffectiveness of their love, so when we are having the natural feelings of hurt, toxic parents will negate them in one way or another by minimizing, mocking, ignoring or actually punishing our emotional experience. As you heal your Self as an adult, give yourself the permission to feel what was ignored, punished or minimized for you as a child. As these feelings release so will the prison bars around your emotional self.
2. Open Your Mind: A closed mind may feel safe, but to be closed minded means you are not open to new information. Information is healing and empowering. As you heal, be open to new questions, to new ideas, expanded thinking, and new ways to live in your life. Be open to letting your memories and emotions unfold. If you are open to them you can make sense of them.
3. Willingness to Grow: Your signature purpose in life is to grow. If you are stuck in the past with blame, resentment, or waiting for validation this blocks your happiness and gives away your power. How long do you want your childhood to have your power? Willingness to make radical shifts and to expand who you are allows you to become a willing-miracle-creator in action. Growth does not come through waiting for other people to own up to their issues as a way for you to move on. You have to move on regardless.
4. Forward Moving Questions: Questions are the path to discovery. Exactly what did your parent do, say and believe which made you feel worthless? Questions move us from the place of what happened to you to what can you do about what happened to you?
5. Journal Write: Tell your childhood story and see how the patterns you learned back then tie into your low self-worth being played out in your current life. Journal writing is transformational as it engages you in a process of working through patterns of behavior. It immediately calms an unsettled mind and heart. When you write you get to know yourself more deeply and this is the foundation for starting any process of meaningful change.
6. Acceptance: Surrendering to a process and not needing it ourselves to be different is what acceptance brings to your healing. When you are in acceptance of whom and how your toxic parents are and you can acknowledge those facts, then you get to decide what you are going to do about it.
7. Patience: Patience is the ability to have endurance under difficult circumstances without acting out in a negative way. Ingrained patterns die hard. When you are healing your childhood you have to keep focused on the long-term bigger picture of your life. This requires patience, as emotional healing is a process not an event.
8. Courage: Courage to face your toxic parents and face yourself is mandatory. You become courageous by doing courageous things and what you will find is courage dismantles fear. It represents your ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty and/or intimidation. Any major healing process must be infused with courage.
9. Love Yourself: Love is the answer to healing of any kind. You have got to love yourself the way you were never loved and nurtured. You must learn to forgive yourself, know yourself, love yourself, be vulnerable with yourself, discipline yourself and be strong in yourself. Love will help you to keep going.
10. Boundaries: Start saying no when you need to say no to your parents. Become an authentic truth-teller. Face the challenge of the other person's response when you say no. Learn to own your feelings, accept them and put them first. If you do not put yourself first, neither will anyone else.
Remember, parents who are shut down emotionally cannot reflect and support their children. When you live out of a lack of self-worth, you give other people worth they do not deserve. You learn to view everyone as more worthy. The signature purpose of healing from toxic parents is to find your worth within yourself and to live out of your definition.
Little Message: My book Loving Yourself: The Mastery Of Being Your Own Person is the Do It Yourself Therapy Guide to healing from toxic parents.
Dr. Sherrie Campbell
Previous Articles by Dr. Sherrie Campbell include:
Sherrie Campbell, PhD is a veteran, licensed Psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services to residents of Yorba Linda, Irvine, Anaheim, Fullerton and Brea, California. In her private practice, she currently specializes in psychotherapy with adults and teenagers, including marriage and family therapy, grief counselling, childhood trauma, sexual issues, personality disorders, illness and more. She has helped individuals manage their highest high and survive their lowest low--from winning the lottery to the death of a child. Her interactive sessions are as unique and impactful as her new book, Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.
She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2003 and has regularly contributes to numerous publications, including Intent.com, Beliefnet.com, DrLaura.com and Hitched.com. She is also an inspirational speaker, avid writer and proud mother. She can be reached at Sherriecampbellphd.com.
Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person is available on Amazon.com and other fine booksellers.