Crazy as this may sound, you may find it hard to recognize for what it really is?
Over the years you have very carefully selected people to share your life with who are to some extent what I call your ‘substitute parents’. They know how to plug into your weak areas. They can, if they wish, avoid talking to you altogether, and simply address themselves directly to your inner-parent (in your head that is). Simply because they are there as a substitute for your parents, they know what makes you feel guilty, or angry, worried or fearful.
I am sure you would have experienced, the people you are close to are by definition those who have the most power to hurt you emotionally, because they know best, out of all the people in this world, what hurts you and makes you feel bad. They would have hardly been your friends, lovers, parents or children if they did not know you well enough for this isn’t it?
It is possible that they do not do this deliberately, but have the power to do so. And you are the one who has let them have the ‘power’.
In my experience, wives and husbands are nearly always substitute parents to some extent; many of them are almost like-for-like substitutes. The traditional way is to choose a girl like mum, or a boy like dad. In the majority of families when a child grows up and gets married, he or she tries to choose somebody his or her parents approve of. Somebody like themselves or very near enough to be able to do a similar job of looking after their child. People very rarely marry somebody from a different class, or with a different standard of education or living. Did you realize that most people marry from their own neighbourhood. Also we tend to fall in love and to marry people whom we see as very similar to ourselves in tastes, opinions and outlook on life, attitudes. With almost unerring instinct we look out for and find a person who has been brought up to understand us, because he or she has been subjected to a similar process of up-bringing. We find a person who can fit in to the inner-parent in ourselves and take over from it to help us do the job at that time, basically to take over from where our parents left of.
Similarly our friends are the people who we trust most. Usually it means that we know they can hurt us but choose not to. We chose them because they seem to understand us. They are usually similar set of people who grew up with impossible demands from their parents that they are trying to meet. We in turn give them the power to make us feel guilty, to press the same buttons which our own parents can press, and which our parents put there. That is probably the reason why we feel at home with our friends.
If you are a parent, then it is a fact you must face that they have made a careful study of you and your personality as well. They know what makes you angry, and afraid; what makes you worry and stops you being decisive. They can place impossible demands on you too by triggering off any of these reactions. You have inadvertently given them this power. It is probably the way you have loved them. In this way they have become your substitute parents. If you have any doubt reflect on the times when you noticed that your children seem to know precisely when to approach you or leave you alone, say things which might please you or do things which makes you happy. In fact as parents we expect our children to look after us from time to time and expect them to act in a parental way towards us.
You cannot and should not let them have this power. You have to gently and firmly take it away from them. You have to be able to stop over-reacting whenever they make you feel like a child again, faced with impossible demands.
Remember when you try to change and take control over your life there will be a lot of resistance from your inner-parent and also substitute parents as you might be threatening to take away their power over you as ‘substitute parents’.
Have you surrounded yourselves with ‘substitute parents’? It’s time to take back control.