If a faulty program is installed on a laptop, it sets off a series of technical issues that make that laptop unfit for proper usage. You take it and head over to the retail store from which you bought it and ask the guy standing behind the desk to do the necessary adjustments and, if need be, format it entirely. I’m using this analogy because it perfectly resembles us as human beings: if we’re behaviors and mental states of being are dysfunctional or incongruent in some aspects of our lives and it’s manifesting its toll on us, we have to grip onto that thread and trace it back to the origins of our faulty indoctrinations.
Maslow’s Hierarchy states that food and shelter come before the need for social belonging and connectedness. I have to disagree with Maslow here. Think about it. When someone goes through a terrible breakup, they will abstain from giving their body the nutrition it needs, they’ll turn to substance abuse to fill the emptiness inside of them after they’ve been abandoned by a significant other. So, yes, as humans, social connectedness and having a sense of belonging to a group is by far our most primary need.
Our family is our first social exposure to this world, and given that the human is insanely vulnerable and sensitive in their easiest years, we weave tight connections with our caregivers. When our childhood caregivers abuse us by, say, constantly blaming us for their negative emotions, making us feel like a nuisance and undeserving of the space we take up in this world, calling us out for failing to meet their expectations of us, we develop a pattern of self-sabotaging and we defend both this pattern and our caregivers because it will ensure us a constant supply of acceptance and love. Our minds, thus, create replicas of our parents, not only to keep us disciplined and in line, but also hurting ourselves hurts less that being hurt by others. This perfect mind image of our parents (internalized parents) continues to project itself in our thoughts and actions well after we’ve left our original places of living and formed families of our own.
When we come to the realization that we’re not in the wrong and that our struggles are the results of an abusive childhood environment, we may get really angry at our parents because changing the thought processes that they have installed in us, like having different opinions about various subjects matters, setting different standards for ourselves, etc, feels like a breach to their authority, like we are essentially betraying them, and we should beat ourselves up for that.
It is important to realize that choosing not to follow the template that your parents have drawn for you in their minds’ eyes is in fact a betrayal, and you need to accept that it is. After all, you cannot change your parents and how they should go about loving you unless they want you. You cannot control anybody but yourself: your thoughts, emotions, and actions. You might still be a little uneasy because you might be thinking that they’d get in your way when they feel like you’re deviating from their norms. You might still be scared of them and the scope of their potential to preclude your happiness and self-love, but I’ll tell you something.
Some magical things happen when you choose to love yourself. When you choose yourself over and over again, everything aligns itself to your favor, doors open, opportunities jump in your way, life gets way easier. Take those horrible virtual parents of yourself and retrain them on how to properly treat you. You’ve definitely heard of the term “reparenting” or “remothering”. That’s precisely what I want you to do: to convince yourself that your parents were not all that bad. They were understanding, they exercised bidirectional communication with you, they allowed you to make your own decisions without clouding your judgement or instilling doubts in you. Reprogram your mind. Flip the switch. Negate all the self-destructive assumptions that you have about yourself. Do not entertain any self-inflicted pains. You really do not deserve that. You deserve to feel validated and loved. And you might be lucky enough to find this love very soon, whether it be through your parents who magically recognized their mistakes, a new friend, or a new special person. But, until that happens, you need to fix your misconceptions about the world, dude. You need to stop believing that people are a threat, just like how your parents technically were. You need to start receiving. Open your heart, trust the process, and love yourself.