Updated: Aug 2, 2020
We believe the stories we’re told growing up. Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Uncle Frank stumbles at family gatherings because of his vertigo when in reality he is susceptible to over-indulgence.
We tend to believe the historical stories we are told, even the ones we are told about ourselves.
“You’ve always been the peace-keeper.”
“You have been trouble since the day you were born.”
“You’re the strong one of the family.”
“You’re too sensitive.”
Is that who we really are, or who our family needs us to be? Why do we buy into it?
In part, it feels good to know that we have a place in the family…even if it’s derogatory. It gives us a sense of belonging and when it has a positive spin, we can even feel valued.
Sometimes, what looks like being the “peace-keeper” is actually a child that has found a productive way to manage the chaos and remain out of the line of fire. The “trouble-maker” may actually be the soldier taking the lead to distract from a more vulnerable parent.
It can be too risky to let the parental relationship stand on its own. We need the family system to stay intact, even if it means that we end up taking the bullet.
We can carry these beliefs into adulthood. Unlike the realization that neither Santa nor the Easter Bunny actually exist, we believe and internalize the stories told of us. We find value in ourselves through the eyes of others until we discover it’s causing us more harm than good.
We might find ourselves engaging in relationships where we feel we must rescue, keep the peace…never really getting our own needs met. We may cause chaos to distract from the core issue; thereby re-enforcing the belief that we are unlovable.
How do we discover who we really are in terms of our original purpose? How do we engage the wonderful bits that we were born with, were meant to be cultivated that we might flourish and fulfill our life’s purpose…find peace?
First, pay attention to the narrative that is told about you…the role you play in the family. Does this role energize or exhaust you?
Maybe there are parts that ring true for you. Maybe there is a balance that needs to be cultivated. Or, maybe the narrative is a creation of your family's need for survival, and you are on the path to discovering your true self.
You get to write the next sentence, paragraph, chapter of your life.