Some of the damage can be quite catastrophic, as in the case of children who suffer physical or emotional abuse at the hands of their parents.
But even with the best parenting in the world, children still enter adulthood with various forms of distorted thinking that have the potential to cause them difficulties in their relationships and achieving full functioning adult maturity.
This is unavoidable but not a cause for serious concern or alarm, it is simply part of the human condition – perfect parenting does not exist, so there will be always some form of emotional/cognitive “baggage” that we carry into adulthood.
When individuals, couples or families come for counselling, a good therapist is always aware that the clients’ issues and problems are partly caused by the cognitive distortions that have their beginnings in childhood.
The Impact of Childhood Wounds
Part of the role of the therapist is to detect and bring these distortions into conscious awareness. It is only then that the client can understand why they do and say things that cause problems – both in their relationships with the people they love and value – as well as in constructively facing the challenges of life.
One of the important insights that clients have in therapy is that although it is true that the past cannot be changed, their present tense responses to past emotional injuries and losses are very open to change and healing.
“The Past” cannot be changed – but your response to it can!
When clients “get” this insight it can be enormously liberating. Prior to this revelation, clients are often convinced that the way they understand the world and interpret their loved ones’ behaviour reflects the true reality of the situation, and that they are seeing their partner’s; children’s; sibling’s; friend’s; and /or colleague’s behaviour clearly.
However when they begin to realise that their perceptions to some degree are distorted by their childhood experiences, they can begin to “make room” for their loved one’s view of the world. It helps each person involved in the relational problem to understand that the “other” is not being deliberately difficult, insensitive, hard-hearted etc but rather behaving in a way that is consistent with the way they see things.
When all participants in the relationship understand this, possibilities for appreciating the “worldview” of the other; forgiveness; and openness to change; are brought into play. Each person can begin to understand why they so misunderstand the other, and when this happens relational healing and transformation can take place.
If you are currently struggling in one or more of your significant relationships and feel that this article speaks to your situation, I would be happy to see and assist you if I can.
Author: Matthew Ryan, B Psych (Hons), MA (Marriage & Family Therapy).
Matt Ryan is a senior psychologist with over 25 years of experience, and has seen great success in helping individuals, couples and families, to work through their problems and difficulties.
To book an appointment with Matthew Ryan call 1800 877 924 or book online today!