“Yup that’s me. I get it from my parents.” My client sighed in resignation, defeated.
She told me about her tendency to be self-critical, and how it stemmed from the lack of support and encouragement from her parents. Nothing was ever good enough. Any success was dismissed with ‘you could have done better’.
My client felt she had worked hard her whole life to outrun the shadow of not being good enough. And now, exhausted and at the end of her tether, she wanted something to change.
How do we escape our history?
Childhood memories run deep as they are often the first powerful emotional impression. We expect a lot from our parents, and when we carry expectations that are not met, or in some cases completely denied, we embody that as a reflection of our own self worth.
Not getting the support or approval from our parents can turn in to a lifetime of over-achievement, people-pleasing, or work-a-holic-ism, trying to fill a void left by our deficient parents.
It feels like a giant weight, dragging the ship of our lives backwards.
What if we could see our history differently?
Whatever our parents did NOT do for us is often the greatest gift. It calls us to do it for ourselves.
I have another client who was abandoned by both her parents as a teenager. She put herself through university, has a stellar professional career, and has travelled to many countries around the world.
Another client was the youngest of four boys, ignored and derided throughout childhood, bullied at school. He is now the CEO of a successful business that has quadrupled in revenue and size - in the last four years.
Here is the essential key to transmuting the story of our history: the pain is a push to lead our self, to lead our own life. When we stop seeking approval (or love/acknowledgment/support) from anyone but ourselves, then we have made peace with our past. We can achieve for the pleasure of creating a result, we can excel for the delight we find as we grow our ability, we can perform at our best - or worst - and be ok with who we are because fundamentally we have discovered that we need no other approval but that which we give ourselves.
Boundless Leaders see their history as the keel of their life’s boat. It’s the spine that holds the ribs of the ship’s belly. It is the foundation and strength that keeps the ship steady in turbulent waters.
What part of your history could you reclaim? What pain is a strength waiting to be told into a better story?