The voice and resulting choices and perceptions are not yet your own.
An Important Example & My Story
If you are not happy with life, one of the most difficult but necessary areas to assess whether the thoughts, beliefs and habits inside you are really your own is in romantic love and marriage.
It can be so difficult because we spend our entire youths witnessing an ongoing lesson in love and marriage from our parents.
Whether your parents were married for fifty years, whether you were the child of one or multiple divorces, or whether your primary parent or caretaker remained single, you absorb a powerful decades-long example of how to be (or not be) in relationships.
Further, your parents brought their own (and/or their parents’) philosophy to the relationship that you spent the most influential part of your lifetime witnessing: they may have been deeply passionate “two as one” mates, they may have been best friends, or business partners with the home as the business, or they may even have been akin to enemies living under the same roof.
It is so important to assess whether the thoughts, beliefs and habits inside you are really your own in this area because you can spend a lifetime frustrated in marriage, or in stumbling through various relationships, or not finding the ideal mate at all, because you haven’t yet discovered what YOU believe love is and what a romantic partnership should be.
Instead you may be unconsciously trying to repeat the lesson of your parents, or even if you are forty or fifty years old, still rebelling against it.
In my case, I grew up watching my Mother who was fiercely devoted to my Father, for better or worse, with a heavy dose of the better earlier in the marriage then a very heavy dose of the worse later on.
It wasn’t until relatively recently in my life that I realized that, like many men, I was unconsciously expecting the same in a woman … right off the bat once things got “serious.”
It took a difficult divorce and also the breakup of another serious relationship for this to come to light. And for me to delve deep into discovering my own beliefs about being successful in love and marriage.
In short, I realized that it takes time, patience and work amidst the joy and passion to get to the point of commitment, but that yes – once that commitment is honestly made between both – I do believe in the “old fashioned” notion of for better or worse, till death do us part.
In such a slippery world, it is a most beautiful thing for two people to have the rock that is each other to hold.
Voices from our past -- especially our parents’ but also those of the religion we grew up in, those handed to us repeatedly from the mass media, and even those developed in “serious” relationships we had in our youth – can have a mighty impact on how we approach love and relationships.
But it also extends to every area of our lives: how we perceive money, God, work, sex, death, politics, other races and nations, leisure, and our health. How we set goals for ourselves, how we pursue those goals. How we react to challenges, anger, stress, compliments, and affection.
The recipe for angst, frustration, anger, loneliness and other negative emotions is to passively accept what you were handed – to passively accept those other voices in your head – and let yourself act according to them.
Key to living a happy life – your own life – is to do the work of recognizing where and who your thoughts and beliefs came from.
And to ponder and decide what you accept as your own.
The unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates.
Know thyself, said Plato.
Truly own your thoughts and beliefs, I suggest.
So who is in your head?
And do you allow them there?
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