“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”- Maya Angelou
Hey Mom!..I’m a Big Kid Now
There is no doubt that for most of us our family’s are the strongest influence and therefore main attachment in our lives. This attachment may also be the strongest source of conflict for us.
I truly love my family, but for anyone that knows me its pretty obvious that I am completely different. I have always struggled in trying to have my parents understand how I see things and the type of life I want to lead. Their ideas of the life they desire me to live is just about the complete opposite of what I want.
Many of these differences are simply due to the fact that we grew up in radically different times and circumstances. My parents came to the states with many of the same aspirations that most immigrants have, which is to pursue the “American dream” and provide opportunities for their children that they never had.
They worked extremely hard and accomplished all of the above. I feel because of their tough journey they end up investing much of their sense of self in their children, that when they don’t conform to their vision, it causes much conflict for both party’s.
The Parent Child Attachment
I think its safe to say that most parents identify their identity with their children and their role as a parent. Usually there will be a big disconnect between children and their parents. On a certain level they don’t want their kids to grow up, because when their kids no longer need them to survive, who are they?
Our family attachment is so strong for the simple fact that we have such a long past, we have thousands of mental images of one another, that in the end there really is no “real” relationship anymore.
The relationship is only between the images, which is not the actual thing. I have an image of who my father is, and my father has his image of who I am, and through these images we see each other. So when your image no longer conforms to the image your parents have of you, it can cause great pain.
Not to toot my own horn, but I was a pretty good kid growing up. I stayed out of trouble for the most part, played sports, and did very well in school. I went to a good university and got a degree in finance. Everything was looking great as my parents saw it. Now I just needed to focus on my career, get married, have children, and my parents could pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
The only problem was that I realized the world changed, and the life my parents envisioned for me, was no longer a reality for many people my age.
So when I told my parents that I was quitting my job, and moving to a new country to pursue my interests, you can only imagine that it did not go over too well.
My parents wondered what happened to me, they felt like I was abandoning them. They could not see that me moving overseas was not the problem, but their attachment to the image they had of the life they wanted me to have. I was doing exactly what they never expected me to do.
The Realization That Broke My Attachment
It’s been several years, and several countries later and recently I have had a huge weight lifted off my shoulders by a few deep realizations I had.
The main thing I realized was that I gave up the need of trying to have my parents understand me. I realized they will never understand, it’s impossible, the only hope is if they realize the same thing.
Once I realized this deeply, I felt a great relief of letting go of the desire that I wished my parents changed, or behaved differently.
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”- Buddha
I allowed things to be as they “are”, just accepting “what is”. I allowed myself to forgive them, because in reality they never did anything to me, they did not understand what they where doing. They where just acting as most people do, which is from their unconscious tendencies.
Because of this our relationship has transformed. My mother still has a ways to go, but on a certain level, I think she has accepted that I am someone who will follow his heart no matter what.
It is a very liberating feeling to not waste anymore energy in trying to have someone understand you. A deep contentment came with learning to accept and love my family for who they are, to no longer have my need of being understood stand between me and my parents having a relationship. It’s ok if they don’t understand me, that’s not important anymore.
What can you learn from me and my parents:
- Attachments and your sense of self: Examine what your main attachments in life are, do you derive your sense of self from them? Understand that when you see your “self” in external objects you will be in bondage to that object. Whenever that object changes or is taken away from you, you will experience deep suffering.
Who you are is not in what you do, what you have, or any external object. You will only discover your self in your own inner space. If you want that new Mercedes Benz, examine why you really want it? You may come to find that its because somehow you see your identity embedded in it, and the more you invest in those mental images, the more you feel you need to have it because you feel incomplete without it.
- Allowing things to be as they “are” and accepting what “is”: We always look at things only as we think they should be, totally neglecting the actual fact and therefore can’t see the causes to our problems. Whenever your able to see something clearly as it is, in that direct perception you will go through a transformation, in that very instant you go beyond the mental obstacle you had created.
I would just like to sincerely thank you for reading my post, I hope you find something valuable in it. I would love to hear how you overcame any family issues, or any important lessons you learned about the attachments in your life. Leave your comments below, take care, and be well.
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(Video of my adventures in China)
Thank you for stopping by “The Extraordinary Self Development Blog”.(editors note: Post originally appeared on August 13th, 2010)