title:Under Their Thumb … Tripping The Parental Triggers!
author:Edward B. Toupin
Some of my clients have come to me feeling like their worlds were not under their own control. They felt as though everyone else ran their lives and had some aspect of control in everything that they did. I asked them to note some specific situations in which they felt this way and how they felt “out of control” of the situation. It’s interesting to note that in every circumstance, there was some aspect of “guilt” or “second-guessing” involved. Indeed, these are the purest signs of self-relinquished control.
There are many ways that people can feel “loss of control” in their lives. We can lose control through frustration and burn-out, living in a rut, stagnation, illness, change, and trauma. However, one of the most common is unconsciously giving up control to others. This is an unconscious act involving two or more parties where party “A” literally hands over the reins to party “B”.
At one time, “parental voices” controlled and molded our lives. These are the voices and rules provided by authority, family, and friends from whom our core belief systems evolved. However, some external influences and people can re-engage that basic instinct for seeking parental acceptance simply by imposing doubt into your world. By accepting the guilt or self-doubt imposed by others, you begin to live in someone else’s “context”. You surrender your own belief systems and adopt those of the other party. In doing so, you begin to live by the rules and controls of the other person.
One of the more common areas in which this occurs is in a professional or group setting where power and control are part of the environment. Many politically savvy individuals (“A”) will take control of others (“B”) simply by learning their ways, gaining their trust, and then embedding doubt or a feeling of non-acceptance. In this way, “A” is now subconsciously seen as the parental figure and “B” requires acceptance from “A”. “A” is now in control of “B”. Over time, “B” grows to feel animosity towards “A”, but is usually unsure why except for the fact that “B” doesn’t like the way that “A” treats them.
Once you fall into this situation, it is difficult to break free. You have to go through and undo the web of emotions and doubt that now clouds your thinking. However, you have to realize that it’s not so much how “A” treats you as it is how you feel about your view of their treatment. By separating your ego and emotions from the situation, you are better able to break free from the reins of self-relinquished control. But, it’s not so much that they have explicit control over you as it is that you are merely seeking their acceptance. It’s an interesting situation to observe!
The best way to prevent such situations from occurring is to go through your own psyche and find out which “parental voices” are still present and dislodge them. You need to replace the old, worn out parental triggers with your own rules for your evolving belief systems. Of course, we usually just leave these voices where they are out of comfort and because they seem to work. However, these are triggers that can be tripped to cause us to fall into this loss-of-control scenario.
I recall one young man who, once he finished college, simply hung out in a local pub. He could not figure out what to do with his life. His parents had passed on, he had no other relatives around, so he just “waited” for anyone and anything that tripped his triggers. Because of this, he ended up in trouble from time to time because he was easily misled by people who gave him what he wanted — acceptance and direction. After much work and planning, he began to move forward in his life and is slowly becoming a success in his own right. But, as you can see, these types of situations are very common and can occur just about anytime to anyone. I’ve also seen such issues occur with abused women, corporations, and myriad other inter-personal situations. People tend to sit and wait for acceptance and guidance from others because they relinquished control.
Live your own life by replacing these triggers with your own rules for living. You will never obtain acceptance from everyone as the rest of the world is out seeking acceptance as well. It’s a never-ending cycle! Learn to accept yourself as, in the long run, you are the only person who has a stake in your own decisions and endeavors for a self-fulfilling life.