Dr. Robert Kornfeld
None of us asked to be born. We all are given the blessing of life but without our direct consent or consciousness. We show up in homes all over the world where we are hopefully being well cared for and loved. Yet, so many of us grow up in less than perfect homes. Some in very dysfunctional homes. Some in foster homes. Some are lucky enough to always feel love and protection but pick up insecurities and hang ups that are part of a family legacy. I guess that means that just about everyone on the planet, at one time or another, has an issue that is causing problems, interfering with their growth or might wreak havoc on their family and themselves.
Understanding our roots and the adult manifestation of our upbringing is incredibly important to personal growth, maturity and ultimately to our ability to create a satisfying life experience. Many of us spend years in therapy trying to understand ourselves and our relationship to the world and everyone in our lives. It is not an easily accomplished task. It takes many years of commitment, self-reflection and utter honesty to make the changes we crave.
Unfortunately, there is a majority of people who struggle in one way or another but have not had, or have not taken, the opportunity for self-reflection and self-growth. Instead, they flounder and live very unsatisfying lives. When struggles ensue and grow to become the expected norm (whether conscious or sub-conscious), it is easy to feel like a victim of circumstance.
In this state of struggle, it is inevitable that there will be a lot of frustration, anger and resentment. This is what you can call “feeling out of control”. In reality, if we feel out of control, then someone or something else must be in control of us. This leads to “lashing out” and blaming others for what’s going on. In moments of extreme stress, when someone challenges us or calls us out on what is happening, there is a natural tendency to defend, accuse or blame. As an example, an adult has been carrying a self-esteem problem from early childhood because his mother was always correcting him or second guessing his decisions. Now, he’s married and has a fight with his wife because he hasn’t done something she has repeatedly asked him to do. In the heat of the moment, he becomes enraged and tells her that if she wasn’t “up his butt” all the time, things would be different. Family squabbles and challenges are a regular part of living and can often help us to become closer if we are able to have effective communication. Unfortunately, once he blames her for stressing him out by “being up his butt”, effective communication becomes impaired because his wife is now on the defense. If he was aware that he has a tendency to feel controlled and belittled stemming from childhood, he would begin to see that his wife isn’t trying to control him, she is expressing frustration at the task that he seems to never take care of and feels compelled to nag him to get it done. If he can see that and own it, he can take responsibility and address her feelings instead of defending himself by blaming her.
So, whose fault is it anyway? We all have stories we tell ourselves about our parents, siblings, spouses, friends, relatives, bosses, etc. The more we affirm those stories, the more they remain a real part of our present life and the more difficult it becomes to see the objective reality and our subjective reactions to them. That is when we will blame, defend, ignore, accuse, scapegoat and argue because we are not taking on the responsibility of what is happening. As an adult, you are always in control of your choices. If something isn’t going the way you want it to but you keep doing the same things and reacting the same way, then IT IS YOUR FAULT. As a responsible adult, blaming other people or circumstances will never change your reality. That makes you a victim and with victim mentality, you will not grow as a person and you will not be able to transform your life.
The healthiest approach to self-improvement, growth and living a contented life is to acknowledge all the “bad” things that happened to you in life (that you believe to be responsible for your own struggles or dysfunction) are in the past. Once you acknowledge that, the question to ask yourself is, “Now what?” You know you became who you are because of your upbringing and your life experiences, but now what are YOU going to do about it? This is a critically important point. Once you take responsibility for yourself and your “failures”, you have taken the first BIG step to improving your life and conquering challenges.
It is a very liberating feeling to release the “old story” and embrace a new one. With intent, a plan of action and the right help, you are far more powerful than you can imagine. You can change your life if you look forward instead of behind. It can be overwhelming to become totally responsible for implementing changes that are challenging to you. But you don’t have to go it alone. As a life coach, it is my job to help you understand what is holding you back and then develop a plan of action and help you stick to it. Changes don’t often come quickly, but working to change things is empowering all on its own.
Dr. Robert Kornfeld is a life coach and holistic podiatrist based in NYC and Long Island. He is the Founder of Change Your Story Coaching (www.changeyourstorycoaching.com) and assists people on their journey to making their dream life happen. Sign up for his email list and get all of his timely and informative articles in your inbox. Are you ready to change your story? Change your life? Contact him today. For coaching, he can be contacted at [email protected]. He also practices functional medicine for chronic foot and ankle pain at The Chronic Foot Pain Center in NYC and Port Washington, L.I. (www.drrobertkornfeld.com). For foot and ankle medical problems, he can be contacted at [email protected].