Conflicting feelings are common. And they often contribute to chronic pain…
Even in the most loving families, conflicted feelings towards parents are practically universal.
This has something to do with the complexity of attachment bonds… And it also has something to do with the power dynamics between adult caregivers and children in a culture that conditions children to blindly obey authority regardless of the child’s feelings or their wellbeing (i.e. most cultures around the world.)
Like sexism and racism, childism (the social power inequality that demands children be subservient to adults) is pervasive and often invisible because it is normalized and even glorified.
As with racism and sexism, even if we are well-intentioned adults, we are conditioned with implicit childism. And as children, we experience the impact of it but are often invalidated when we react to it — and we are conditioned to internalize it.
This can create a cornucopia of confusing and conflicting feelings inside of us toward our parents. And the tension between conflicting emotions — particularly between anger and guilt, or between anger and fear — can put stress on the nervous system, which in turn can trigger chronic pain.
So What Do We Do About It?
If you struggle with persistent feelings of guilt towards your parents, consider this:
Your feelings of guilt may think that they’re protecting you from retaliation or abandonment.
Guilt silences your anger, which you may fear would disconnect you from your parents.
In silencing your anger, guilt stops you from setting the healthy boundaries that would allow you to release resentment and have a thriving emotional life — whether that means more closeness with your parents or more distance from them.
“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.” — Prentis Hemphill
We can open up space and release tension by choosing to acknowledge each and every one of our feelings — guilt, anger, love, resentment or whatever emotions are present for you.
When we approach each feeling with curiosity rather than judgment, we can then empathize with the feeling. We can ask the feeling what it’s trying to protect us from and what it needs in order to feel honored. And as we empathize with each feeling, we can gradually start to ease the tension that conflicting feelings place on our bodies and minds. 💖
With warmth, encouragement and an ocean of empathy,
And follow me on instagram for healing tips, inspiration and support!