Ready to deprogram destructive patterns you learned growing up? Great, but that’s only half of it.
Your parents couldn’t model for you what they didn’t know themselves. They couldn’t give you what they didn’t have. This isn’t an exercise in forgiveness or compassion, it’s simply recognizing a fact in a space that is fraught with emotion.
It’s not about letting them off the hook — it’s not about hooks at all. After all, you are an adult now, and responsible for your own life. For better or worse (or often a mix), your parents gave you a “starter pack”. You can continue running some version of that or not.
It’s your choice, and also your responsibility. That’s a fantastic place to be, assuming you are willing to come fully into that responsibility, be completely honest with yourself and do the work necessary to delete or replace any faulty programming.
Recognizing faulty childhood programming usually happens through pain or frustration.
If you’re using some funky childhood programming to navigate your adult life, it can be a bit like being in a self-driving car that either crashes into things or only takes you to certain places — places you keep telling yourself you do not want to go.
Depending on the nature of your programming, this will bring pain or frustration. Pain is when you crash into things. Obviously. But you also feel pain when you intend to make changes and you find you keep ending up in the same kinds of situations. It’s like throwing your surfboard on top of your car and entering the GPS data for your favorite beach — but the car drives you to the nearest craps table (again).
This results in pain when the stakes are high. When the fallout is serious, hurting yourself or those you care about. It’s destructive.
When it shows up as more of a constant road block in your life, keeping you from accomplishing your goals or holding you back from experiencing certain things, this can result more in a deep sense of frustration.
A lot of people who work with me privately show up holding either this pain or frustration, and want help zeroing in on that childhood programming and removing it. But that’s only half the work.
Learning to be Human, part 2.
So, your parents were responsible for the First Pass. How did they do? It’s amazing that we can spend most of our adult lives stuck right there. You can spend twenty years on a therapist’s couch deconstructing every nuance of how your parents modeled the world to you in the First Pass.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to look at how your parents modeled the world for you, as part of the diagnostic process, but it doesn’t take long at all. You may think that it’s hidden or private, but you wear these childhood models in a very public-facing way. Anyone who is trained or sensitive to these things can see them quite plainly.
When I start working with people, the first thing I see is their parents. I hear how they spoke to you, or how they spoke to each other. Because people carry these models facing right out at the world, though they are totally unaware of the fact.
Whether your parents did a shit job or a pretty decent one — or somewhere in between — the Second Pass is entirely your responsibility. This is where you not only remove the faulty programming, but where you actively take up the job of learning to be Human, as an adult.
Once you remove childhood programming, you have to replace it with something that works.
If your parents used shame to motivate you to work harder or achieve goals, even if you remove that program, you will need to learn the important life skill of how to motivate yourself without it. If you grew up in a chaotic or dangerous home, you’ll need to learn how to create trust in a relationship. If your parents didn’t know how to ask for what they need and instead blamed or resented each other for not giving what they needed, you’ll need to learn the critical life skill of being able to communicate your needs. If your parents were your harshest critics, and you internalized that critical voice — even if you work to tone that down, you will still need to know how to be your own best friend — how to support, comfort and encourage yourself.
You’re parents only provided the intro. The rest of your story is up to you.
Anything your parents failed to teach you, you can learn on your own. The whole world is filled with other examples, mentors and models you can employ to fill in the gaps or upgrade what you got in the First Pass.
Parenting doesn’t end when you leave home — the job just transfers from your parents into your own hands.
Deprogramming is important. Do you really want your life to be defined by your parents’ strengths and weaknesses? Especially if you will take my word when I tell you that these are public-facing, that you carry these at the very front of your personality into every interaction? That should really motivate you to want to deprogram.
But the other part of this is taking up the reigns of parenting and doing the ongoing work of the Second Pass. You get to seek out and learn or upgrade the life skills that make it possible to write your own life story.
Childhood is only twenty years, and most of our First Pass programming gets set in the first eight. You have the rest of your life to upgrade your system, learn new ways to be a better Human.
What are some great life skills to teach yourself?
How to define your boundaries and communicate them to others.
How to be completely honest with yourself and still always be your own best friend.
How to have a healthy relationship with money.
How to handle difficult emotions.
How to know when to say no, and how to actually say it.
How to face the fear of failure, rejection or criticism and still go out on a limb to do or create something.
How to live with your own vulnerability without becoming paralyzed or defensive.
How to know if or when the opinions of others matter.
How to take care of yourself: emotionally, financially, physically and mentally.
How to know when something is true for you vs when you are making excuses.
How to be creative (when our tendency is to chain ourselves to being practical)
How to be practical (when our tendency is to only be creative or magical)
How to be resilient.
How to be the sole shareholder in Self Worth Inc, rather than putting your sense of self worth out there for the public to value – and watching that inflate or deflate with every new situation.
Spirituality can get in the way.
What? Am I really saying that?
Yes. And this is why. Spirituality has its place. Meditation can teach you so much — and one of the most important epiphanies is just how out of control your mind is. Realizing that you cannot simply command your mind to be at rest can be quite an epiphany.
Mindfulness (though I really hate this word!) can help you not be so reactive. Meditating on compassion can make you a little less of an ass hat.
But so many people come to me and claim to have spiritual problems, for which they seek spiritual solutions — when they actually need to do the work of deprogramming First Pass patterns and stepping up to Second Pass responsibilities to parent themselves and learn basic life skills.
Instead, they are doing more meditation, seeking out gurus, doing mantra and prostrations, seeking a spiritual breakthrough. And you might have amazing experiences. Your heart might break open and expand, you might experience a sense of connection and bliss.
But guess what? You’ll still have a relationship with money that was programmed in the first ten years of your life by people who may are may not have had a great relationship with money themselves. That doesn’t disappear when you open your heart chakra, or whatever. I know a spiritual teacher who is authorized to give initiations to students who has a terrible relationship with money, can’t communicate effectively with their spouse and — even with all these years of high level, dedicated spiritual practice — keeps finding their self-driving car circling back to drop them at some of the same old unwanted locations. And what do they look toward as a solution? More spiritual practices. Ayahuasca in the Amazonian jungles, anyone?
Step up to the challenge and possibility of the Second Pass — taking charge of your own vehicle.
I think it’s exciting, writing your own story, learning to drive and navigate your own vehicle. It’s not easy at times, but it’s all you! However well or poorly your parents managed the intro, what comes after is all your own making. It’s amazing for me to watch people break through internal blocks and patterns, and take up the challenge of parenting themselves. And most of that happens in an active, intelligent and curious engagement with all the regular features of life — not by transcending them through spirituality.