We are living in a scary time. It is hard for everyone. But after childhood trauma, it can paralyze us. We already have inner parts who are programmed to find the fear in everything. We learned this survival skill at a very young age. Now that the world around us has escalated in so many ways, those parts are on overdrive. You may have noticed that it felt better for a while. The controller steps in and numbs us because the triggers are just too much for. But that can’t last forever. The fear eventually finds its way through the dissociative fugue. That’s when our defenders go into overdrive with fear-based scenarios of all kinds.
But we didn’t start this way. We were born free. We came out of the womb ready to live an adventurous and authentic life, never compromising on who we were meant to be. So what happened? We met a whole bunch of people with a whole lot of fear. And it didn’t take long to rub off on us. In some ways, we were purposefully thwarted in our attempts to live free. Physically and sexually abusive people instilled a daily fear of attack. Mentally and emotionally abusive people made sure we knew there was no hope for our plans. And unconscious “well-meaning” people made sure we knew that striving in this world doesn’t get us very far. Why did they do it? They did it because they didn’t know anything different. They were repeating generational patterns and they had no idea there was another way to live. They were too inundated with fear to look for other ways to live. But you don’t have to drink their poison. Awareness of their strategies can change everything and break cycles. Let’s talk about them.
Purposeful Strategies by Abusive People
They Set Up Contracts with Us. You might be wondering what I mean by contracts. It sounds a bit extreme to make a child sign a contract. In reality, they are almost never signed (although they can be). They are verbal agreements or deals. And our inner parts take them very seriously. They are created by adults who are jealous of our early love of life. They are jealous of who we might become. They were squelched and they have to find a way to squelch us too. So they set up deals with us about how we are allowed to live life. And there are repercussions if we don’t. These contracts make any authentic choice subject to punishment.
They Attack our Self Worth. Many abusers will see our low self-worth as an insurance policy for the contracts. Even if we get the idea that we want to break a contract, we will often drop the idea when we “realize” we aren’t good enough. Abusers will tell us repeatedly that we lack the ability, the skills, the intelligence to do and be what we want. But they will take it further. They will blame us for problems we didn’t cause. They will let us know we are inherently bad. So we learn we are not good enough. But we also learn we are truly bad. We learn that attempting to move out of our contracts will fail because of who we are.
They Shut Down our Inner Guidance System. When external people come at us with contracts and attacks on our self-worth, we don’t have to believe them. So why do we? They also teach us not to trust ourselves. They shut down our own inner wisdom which knows our way forward. If we cannot hear or trust ourselves, we will have no choice but to listen to them about who we are and what we are supposed to do. We lose our connection to anything that says otherwise. And we cannot get that back until we start to reconnect with self.
Unconscious Strategies by “Well-Meaning” People
They Pass on Their Rules. People who live in fear also live by rules. These rules were passed to them by other fearful people and society. They may have learned helplessness from trying and failing. They may have learned helplessness from abuse or their own contracts. But in the end, they aren’t really sure life has that much to offer. If they met you as a child when you still had some hope, they might have given you some advice. Maybe they thought it was good advice. But it can further solidify the abusive practices of those who wanted to hold us back in our lives.
They Might be Jealous. If you meet people along the path of life and you are having some success (or just planning for it), people might tell you to give up or aim lower. They might think they are “knocking some sense into you”. They might think they are being wise. But deep down, they might have a bit of jealousy driving their advice. They might have some inner parts who want to aim higher, but their own fear is holding them back. And on an unconscious level, they might believe something will be proven to be wrong with them if you succeed. If you can have it and they can’t, they would have to face what they are doing wrong.
They Might be Projecting. Others have often faced abuse and contracts with their own family. If so, they might be in survival mode. They are avoiding horrible things. They are living in fear. They are walking the line to keep all their fears in check. If they see you “getting out of line”, they might come swooping in to save you. They want to keep you safe, and deep in their unconscious, they think they have the key to do it. They project their own self-saving strategies onto you. They meet your needs in the way they meet their own. You are their mirror and you are making them feel unsafe. So they are here to fix you and save you from the repercussions of your actions.
All these strategies can lead to problems with embracing an authentic life. There are too many influences coming from too many directions. But there is a way out of the fear. We can bring our awareness to these influences. We can write from the beliefs coming from interactions in our childhood. And we can allow ourselves to feel the fear of breaking through to our authentic life. We can rise above these strategies and find our real path. We can remove the chains dragging us down. We can leave this fear behind.