We all know that you inherit biological genes from your family that determine your body’s characteristics and genetic markers. A medical history is crucial in determining many diagnosis and diseases and is especially helpful with prevention of future problems.
The same holds true for your mind. You can inherit defense mechanisms, neurosis, behavioral patterns in relationships, how you deal with money as well as your overall attitudes about life.
Our parents and grandparents are our first teachers. I recently attended my four year old goddaughter’s dance recital. During her number all the girls watched to the side of the stage and imitated the moves the teacher was doing. This is how they integrated the dance routine all year and they were again looking to model after their teacher.
You learned by imitating your parents behavior and in some cases you may have picked up on what was actually going on in the minds of your parent’s unconscious. This is true if you find yourself becoming what your dad always wanted to be or if your mom wanted to go to law school and you initially go in that direction then realize it wasn’t your dream but hers.
It’s quite apparent with money issues how we inherit issues from our parents and even grandparents. If your grandparents grew up in the depression they may have been extremely careful about spending money. Your parents then may have either copied that or swung in the opposite direction and spent too much money to overcompensate for the feeling that their parents deprived them. Now you come along and you inherit how this family dealt with money.
Storytelling is a historical way families passed along psychological inheritance. Remember the stories about how frugal your grandmother was or how your grandfather loved the Yankees so much no one could speak to him when men were on base.
You may have also inherited behavioral patterns in relationships. Your parents relationship was your model of how to behave. There is a tendency to repeat that relationship, to identify with one parent and be like that or to swing in a complete opposite direction but either way you are still responding to an inherited behavioral pattern.
Unlike the body with the physical evidence of genes, cells and diseases the mind’s issues aren’t black and white and because of this it has been difficult in our field to always prove theory. The mind and the heart are complex. Consider this and remember nothing is set in stone. It is up to you to analyze what may have been passed down into your mind.
I find that many people do the opposite of what their parents did that they disliked. For example if their parents never took them on vacations they go on a lot of vacations whether their children want to or not. This behavior is still a reaction to what was inherited. Remember just like you need to know what diseases you may be prone to and then adjust your life accordingly to prevent these diseases you need to do the same with your mind.
Identify what types of behaviors you inherited in dealing with money, relationships, parenting and anything else that matters to you. Then work through any emotion you have about that inheritance and begin to heal and let go of those family “traditions” which may be dysfunctional. This will also help you separate and individuate from your parents.
All the good stuff of course leave alone!
If you can do this you will break the chain of the same dysfunctional behaviors being passed down to your children!
Miller, Alice, “The Drama of the Gifted Child"
Debting is a problem many Americans have. Credit card debt is especially difficult to overcome since interest rates can get so high the principal is often out of reach to pay off. Running a counseling center during an age where HMOs decide on how much to pay it is very important to keep expenses down, keep up with the latest technology to save administrative costs and to make sure staff and clients are treated well.
Buying things that are not needed, succumbing to impulse spending and taking out unnecessary loans would financially burden the center and leave no room for saving that allows for paying for things that break down or need servicing.
Having credit but not using it addictively is the key to keeping credit available. Here are the signs you are debting and the possible reasons for this:
Some of the reasons for this are both psychological and sociological. Buying things may appear to feel good initially yet then this feeling fades and you are left with the initial feelings before you spent money. Like other addictions spending doesn’t solve the problem it only band aids it. You may also look to buy things to fill you up if their has been great loss in your life beginning from childhood and on through your life. Your spending practices can be the result of modeling by a parent. If this is how a parent showed love and offered apologies then you may do the same.
Sociologically we are all trained to buy things bigger, better and newer. Its not about fixing something broken or even keeping something until you need a new one there is a drive to always have the latest and the newest. Buying into this seduction only helps corporate America make billions of dollars each year. It doesn’t help you stay out of debt.
Some of the most treasured things don’t cost anything or very little.
Sunshine. Rain. Love. Attention. Time together. A walk in a park or on the beach. Telling someone how you feel about them. Writing a poem, a story or a letter for someone you love. Telling stories about the old days. Watching the sunrise or the sunset. Looking at the stars or watching the birds.
What You Need vs What You Want
Suzy Orman has said to put PEOPLE first MONEY second and THINGS third. This is I believe a great guideline to live by. When you consider what you need and what the people in your life need FIRST you can then set your priorities straight.
When children see their parents buying boats before they get them new shoes when they need shoes it gives them a mixed message: Do you love your things more than me?
It is important to list out what you and your family needs at a given time. Your hard earned money needs to go to fulfilling those needs first.
Your partner/spouse, your children and your pets needs must come before any material or impulse buying need you have because who you love is more important on a deep level than what you love.
Remember in times of great crisis you can’t love your boat or your car or your new deck like you love your child. Debting can create an addictive cycle that can like other addictions make you neglect the ones you love the most.
Putting money second means that you take care of your money in such a way that you will continue to have it to meet the needs of your family and your loved ones. Money is power in our society to help navigate your resources. You need to make sure you have some savings so that if an emergency happens to a loved one you can help.
Putting things third helps you keep in perspective their importance in your life. They are last.
Another principle that can help you not debt and manage your money well is to consider this:
Save 1/3, Spend 1/3 (pay bills etc) and Give away 1/3 to someone else who may need it. Perhaps the giving and the spending may be less than actually the 1/3 amount but I think keeping a guideline as to how to best deal with your money is a good idea.
Our current society has taught us to spend almost immediately after making the money and this is a seductive conditioning that keeps the economy in a state of living on credit, using up credit, dealing with a “bubble,” a recession then living on credit again and the cycle continues.
I think if we all worked on having a healthier relationship to money our economy would eventually work itself out. We do need to buy things and we do need good products it’s the OVERDOING and OVERSPENDING that gets us all in trouble.
Growing up with my grandmother in Queens who lived through the depression was so special for me. She taught me so much about love and happiness and money. She worked in cafeterias and factories and bought her house with the money she made. She never spent on anything she didn’t need and she always put us first. We had what we needed and the best moments of my childhood occurred with her where she lived in the basement of the house. She lived there so that we could have the upstairs apartment and my cousins family had the one upstairs from us. She watched her soap operas and occasional bought a lottery ticket because some numbers kept coming up but for the most part she just bought food and clothes as needed. She always appreciated being able to buy food.
Please try to work on your money issues if you need to. Your family and your country will be healthier for it.
Orman, Suzy, “Women and Money” 2007
Quite often at our counseling center we help people learn effective ways to talk to each other. Some of the techniques we recommend are as follows:
1. "I" messages
"I" messages help to identify feelings and associate these feelings to certain behaviors by the other person.
Here is an example:
When you yell at me I feel hurt/afraid/frustrated.
When you read the newspaper when i am talking to you I feel ignored.
2. Active Listening
Active listening is mirroring back to the other person what you see, hear and sense from them. Be careful not to interpret or analyze, just feedback what you see and allow the other person to come to an awareness.
Here is an example:
I saw you look away when you talked about your brother.
You seem sad. Are you?
I heard your voice get lower when you seemed angry.
I saw your lip quiver when you were talking about your grandmother.
3. Fair Fighting
Fair fighting is disagreeing with the other person without shaming, abusing or attacking them, This is often difficult to do because of the emotional content behind unresolved issues. If a fight occurs and you feel an intensity and high emotions it may be best to revisit the fight/argument after attending a session or discussing the emptions with your support system. Many times deeper, older issues get triggered causing the couple to lose sight of who they are really taking to.
Here is an example:
I don't see it the same way. I understand you are entitled to your feelings and thoughts and opinions but I don't have to have the same as you we are different people.
I will give you time to tell me all your thoughts and feelings I just ask that you don't yell or attack me with words. If you do I will leave and we'll have to talk about this at another time.
4. Letting Go
Letting go means allowing a process to occur independent of your input. In other words do not act out control issues based in fear and anxiety. Allow the other person to help or fix themselves. If you fix or give the answers you may find that person becoming dependent on you. Instead empower them to find the answers within. Remember sometimes becoming overly involved with helping interferes with healthy communication and healthy boundaries.
How To Have a Healthy Romantic Relationship
When you go to see a movie the projector places the image that was originally stored into the camera onto the screen. This process is similar to what the mind may do in a romantic relationship. There are images and memories stored within your mind that may project onto your significant other.
When you fall in love the mind remembers old loves especially the early ones that meant so much. Our first loves are our parents so the mind does a trick by transposing those old images onto the new love especially if there is even a slight psychological resemblance which quite often there is.
This can cause you to lose sight of your love and only see the parent that may have hurt you or disappointed you in some way. This is especially true if you have unresolved issues from childhood. Quite often the mind will seek out a personality like a parent so that you may heal the wounds or even re enact the original parent/child relationship. This can be more common in early relationships than later ones since the later relationships have the advantage of some healing from the last one. For example a relationship in your twenties may have been more like an original parent/child relationship than the one in your forties.
In order to have a healthy romantic relationship that is long lasting and fulfilling there are some very important practices to keep in mind:
Self Analysis and Self Inventory:
Be aware of your issues your defense mechanisms and how your past relationships effect the present one. Explore your reactions, anxieties and boiling points.
Try your best to treat your love with kindness and sensitivity and resist the impulse to act out your unresolved anger/hurt on her.
Communicate clearly your needs, feelings and desires. Secrets create shame and distance. Use "I messages." For example 'I feel angry when you become silent.'
Listen to Feedback:
Many times when you allow someone to get that close they can really get to know you. Listen to what they say about you and ask them to separate their projections so that the feedback may helf you learn about your issues.
Allow for Conflict and the Difference of Ideas, Perceptions, etc.:
Romantic relationships need conflict to help resolve issues and bring the couple to a greater level of emotional intimacy. This does not mean violent or abusive behaviors should be tolerated ever.
Nurturance and Independence:
Nurture the relationship by spending quality time together doing things both people like to do. allow your partner the space to be independent of you. Dependency or the need for dependency is often destructive to a relationship.
Experiencing your sexuality consistently and pleasurably is an important and necessary part of a romantic relationship.
These practices can be hard work. It takes time and practice. You will not always say or do the right thing but keep at it!
The better you know yourself and the more open you are to that knowing may be the key to your success!