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Adult children of emotionally immature parents by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD – Remarks

Posted by Raul Barral Tamayo en Martes, 16 de junio, 2020


Copyright © 2015 by Lindsay C. Gibson

If you grew up with an emotionally immature, unavailable, or selfish parent, you may have lingering feelings of anger, loneliness, betrayal, or abandonment. You may recall your childhood as a time when your emotional needs were not met, when your feelings were dismissed, or when you took on adult levels of responsibility in an effort to compensate for your parent’s behavior. These wounds can be healed, and you can move forward in your life.

In this breakthrough book, clinical psychologist Lindsay Gibson exposes the destructive nature of parents who are emotionally immature or unavailable. You will see how these parents create a sense of neglect, and discover ways to heal from the pain and confusion caused by your childhood.

By freeing yourself from your parents’ emotional immaturity, you can recover your true nature, control how you react to them, and avoid disappointment. Finally, you’ll learn how to create positive, new relationships so you can build a better life.

Discover the four types of difficult parents:

  • The emotional parent instills feelings of instability and anxiety
  • The driven parent stays busy trying to perfect everything and everyone
  • The passive parent avoids dealing with anything upsetting
  • The rejecting parent is withdrawn, dismissive, and derogatory

Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in individual psychotherapy with adult children of emotionally immature (EI) parents. She is author of Who You Were Meant to Be, and writes a monthly column on well-being for Tidewater Women magazine. In the past, she has served as adjunct assistant professor of graduate psychology at the College of William and Mary, as well as at Old Dominion University. Gibson lives and practices in Virginia Beach, VA.


Comments extracted from the book, they could be right or wrong, you decide for yourself:

  • What happens when immature parents lack the emotional responsiveness necessary to meet their children’s emotional needs? The result is emotional neglect, a phenomenon as real as any physical deprivation.
  • Emotional neglect in childhood leads to a painful emotional loneliness that can have a long-term negative impact on a person’s choices regarding relationships and intimate partners.
  • Emotionally immature parents fear genuine emotion and pull back from emotional closeness. They use coping mechanisms that resist reality rather than dealing with it. They don’t welcome self-reflection, so they rarely accept blame or apologize. Their immaturity makes them inconsistent and emotionally unrealiable.
  • Among psychotherapists, it’s long been known thast emotionally disengaging from toxic parents is the way to restore peace and self-sufficiency. We realize their neglect wasn’t about us, but about them. When we see why they can’t be different, we can finally be free of our frustration with them, as well as our doubts about our own lovability.
  • After reading this book, you’ll be able to spot signs of emotional immaturity and understand why you’ve often felt alone.
  • I know you’ve suspected much of what you are about to read, and I’m here to tell you that you were right all along. I wish you the very best for you.
  • Emotional loneliness comes form not having enough emotional intimacy with other people.
  • Growing up in a family with emotionally immature parents is a lonely experience. These parents may look and act perfectly normal, caring for their child’s physical health and providing meals and safety. However, if they don’t make a solid emotional connection with their child, the child will have a gaping hole where true security might have been.
  • When the children grow up, the core emptiness remains, even if they have a superficially normal adult life. Their loneliness can continue into adulthood if they unwittingly choose relationships that can’t give them enough emotional connection.
  • Emotional intimacy involves knowing that you have someone you can tell anything to, someone to go to with all your feelings, about anything and everything. You feel completely safe opening up to the other person, whether in the form of words, through an exchange of looks, or by just being together quietly in a state of connection. It can only exist when the other person seeks to know you, not judge you.
  • Emotionally engaged parents make children feel that they always have someone to go to. They’ve developed enough self-awareness to be comfortable with their own feelings, as well as those of other people.
  • Parents who are emotionally immature are so self-preocuppied that they don’t notice their children’s inner experiences. In addition, they discount feelings, and they fear emotional intimacy. They’re uncomfortable with their own emotional needs and therefore have no idea how to offer support at an emotional level.
  • As a child, yoy had no way of knowing that this hollow feeling is a normal, universal response to lacking adequate human companionship.
  • Once you start listening to your emotions instead of shutting them down, they will guide you toward an authentic connection with others.
  • Knowing the cause of your emotional loneliness is the first step toward finding more fulfilling relationships.
  • Emotional loneliness is so distressing that a child who experiences it will do whatever is necessary to make some kind of connection with the parent. These children may learn to put other people’s needs first as the price of admission to a relationship. This tends to create even more loneliness, since covering up your deepest needs prevents genuine connection with others.
  • Many emotionally deprived children are eager to leave childhood behind. They perceive that the best solution is to grow up quickly and become self-sufficient. These children become competent beyond their years but lonely at their core.
  • We gravitate to situations we have had experience with because we know how to deal with them.
  • Denial makes us repeat the same situation over and over because we never see it coming the next time.
  • I have a special place in my heart for people who function so well that other people think they have no problems. “I have it all”, they’re likely to say. “I should be happy. Why do I feel so miserable?”. This is the classic confusion of a person whose physical needs were met in childhood while emotional needs remained unfulfilled.
  • Good relationships do take some effort and forbearance. But it shouldn’t take work just to be noticed. Making an emotional connection ought to be the esay part.
  • Men are more likely to become violent or succeed at suicide when they feel emotionally anguished.
  • Children who feel they cannot engage their parents emotionally often try to strengthen their connection by playing whatever roles they believe their parents want them to.
  • Hate is a normal and involuntary reaction when somebody tries to control you for no good reason.
  • To these people, relationships feel like traps. They already have their hands full with a parent who acts like he or she owns them.
  • Emotionally immature parents don’t know how to validate their child’s feelings and instincts.
  • When people say, “You can’t have everything”, they’re really saying they don’t have what they need.
  • You can trust the inner prompts that tell you when something is missing.
  • Vows and promises aren’t the fuel relationships run on. Relationships are sustained by the pleasure of emotional intimacy, the feeling that someone is interested in taking the time to really listen and understand your experience. If you don’t have that, your relationship won’t thrive.
  • When parents reject or emotionally neglect their children, these children often grow up to expect the same from other people. They lack confidence that others could be interested in them.
  • We all need other people to meet our emotional needs for comfort and closeness. That’s what relationships are all about.
  • Parental rejection doesn’t always result in low self-confidence. Some inteligent, resilient people somehow manifest the confidence to pursue good careers and reach high levels of achievement.
  • Capable kids may seem like they can parent themselves, but they can’t. No child can. They just learn to cling to whatever emotional scraps they get because any connection is better than none at all.
  • Throughout human evolution, being part of a group has always meant more safety and less stress.
  • When you’re longing for a deep emotional connection, remind yourself that your painful feeling of aloneness is coming not just from your individual history, but also from human genetic memory.
  • Anyone can briefly lose emotional control or become impulsive when tired or stressed.
  • Emotionally immature people don’t step back and think about how their behavior  impacts others. There’s no cringe factor for them, so they seldom apologize or experience regret.
  • “Emotionally mature” means a person is capable of thinking objectively and conceptually while sustaining deep emotional connections  to others. Can function independently while also having deep emotional attachments, smoothly incorporating both into their daily life. They are direct about pursuing what they want, yet do so without exploiting other people. They are comfortable and honest about their own feelings and get along well with other people, thanks to their well-developed empathy, impulse control, and emotional intelligence. They’re interested in other people’s inner lives and enjoy opening up and sharing with others in an emotionally intimate way. When there’s a problem, they deal with others directly to smooth out differences. They cope with stress in a realistic, forward-looking way, while consciously processing their thoughts and feelings. They can control their emotions when necessary, anticipate the future, adapt to reality, and use empathy and humor to ease difficult situations and strengthen bonds with others. They enjoy being objective and know themselves well enough to admit their weaknesses.
  • As long as there’s a clear path to follow, emotionally immature people can do very well, sometimes reaching high levels of success and prestige. But when it comes to relationships or emotional decisions, their immaturity becomes evident. Once they form an opinion, their minds are closed.
  • Emotionally immature people don’t deal with stress well. Their responses are reactive and stereotyped. Instead of assessing the situation and anticipating the future, they use coping mechanisms that deny, distort, or replace reality.
  • Among emotionally immature people the childhood instinct to do what feels good never really changes. They make decisions on the basis of what feels best in the moment and often follow the path of least resistance.
  • Emotionally immature people assess situations in a subjective way, not objectively. They don’t do much dispassionate analysis. When they interpret situations, how they are feeling is more important than what is actually happening.
  • Emotionally immature people are annoyed by other people’s differing thoughts and opinions, believing everyone should see things their way.
  • Emotionally immature adults are commanded by anxiety and insecurity, like wounded people who must keep checking their intactness. They live in a perpetual state of insecurity, fearing that they’ll be exposed as bad, inadequate, or unlovable.
  • Their self-steem rises or falls depending on how others react to them.
  • They have fundamental doubts about their core worth as human beings.
  • Because they lack self-reflection, they don’t consider their role in a problem. They don’t assess their behavior or question their motives.
  • In groups, the most emotionally immature person often dominates the group’s time and energy. If other people allow it, all the group’s attention will go to that person.
  • These parents may reverse roles and expect their child to be their confidant, even for adult matters.
  • Being out of touch with their own deeper feelings, they’re strinkingly bling to how they make other people feel.
  • Sociopaths may do an excellent job of reading a person’s emotional vulnerabilities, but without the ability to resonate with the other person’s feelings, knowledge of those feelings becomes a tool for predation, not connection.
  • Lack of resonant empathy suggests a lack of self-development.
  • Old-school parenting was very much about children being seen but not heard. Physical punishment was not only acceptable, it was condoned, even in schools, as the way to make children responsible.
  • Emotionally immature parents were once children themselves, and as children they may have had to shut down many of their deepest feelings in order to be acceptable to their own parents.
  • If you don’t have a basic sense of how you are as a person, you can’t learn how to emotionally engage with other people at a deep level.
  • Instead of having a well-integrated sense of who they are, emotionally immature people are more like an amalgam of various borrowed parts, many of which don’t go together well.
  • The sooner they can avoid their feelings or get over them, the better. They find the world of deep emotions extremely threatening.
  • Emotionally immature parents can do a good job of taking care of their children’s physical and material needs. In the world of food, shelter, and education, these parents may be able to provide everything that’s needed. But when it comes to emotional matters, they can be oblivious to their children’s needs.
  • The ability to feel mixed emotions is a sign of maturity. Experienced together, opposing feelings tame each other.
  • The reactions of emotionally immature people tend to be black-and-white, with no gray areas. This rules out ambivalence, dilemmas, and other emotionally complicated experiences.
  • Emotionally immature people who are otherwise intelligent can think conceptually and show insight as long as they don’t feel too threatened in the moment. Their intellectual objectivity is limited to topics that aren’t emotionally arousing to them.
  • Another cognitive sign of emotional immaturity is overintellectualizing and getting obsessed about certain topics. Their preoccupation with ideas distracts them from emotional intimacy.
  • Communication with emotionally immature people usually feels one-sided. They aren’t interested in reciprocal, mutual conversations.
  • Anger and even rage are adaptive reactions to feelings of abandonment, giving us energy to protest and change unhealthy emotional situations.
  • Sometimes children of emotionally immature parents repress their anger or turn it against themselves. Perhaps they’ve learned that it’s too dangerous to express anger directly, or maybe they feel too guilty about their anger to be aware of it. They may end up severly depressed or even have suicidal feelings, they ultimate expression of anger against the self. Alternatively, some people express their anger in a passive-agressive way, attempting to defeat their parents and other authority figures with behaviors like forgetting, lying, delaying, or avoiding.
  • Because emotionally immature people have little awareness of feelings and a limited vocabulary for emotional experienes, they usually act out their emotional needs instead of talking about them.
  • Emotional contagion is also how babies and little children communicate their needs. They cry and fuss until their caretakers figure out what’s wrong and fix it. Emotionally immature adults communicate feelings in this same primitive way.
  • Emotionally immature parents don’t try to understand the emotional experiences of other people, including their own children. They might add something about not being a mind reader, or they might dismiss the situation by saying the hurt person is overly emotional or too sensitive.
  • Mature people take on the emotional work in relationships automatically because they live in a state of empathy and self-awareness. It’s impossible for them to overlook the fact that someone they care about is having a hard time.
  • Emotionally immature people want others to show concern about their problems, but they aren’t likely to accept helpful suggestions.
  • They dislike having to tell people what they need and instead hold back, waiting to see whether anyone will notice how they’re feeling.
  • The classic unspoken demand of the emotionally immature adult is “If you really loved me, you’d know what I want you to do”.
  • It takes confidence and maturity to admit to being wrong and try to make things better. But emotionally immature people resits facing their mistakes.
  • They have no awareness of the need for emotional processing or the amount of time it may take to rebuild trust after a major betrayal.
  • Those who are extremely emotionally immature may use punishment, threats of abandonment, and shaming as trump cards in an attempt to feel in control and bolster their self-steem, at their children’s expense.
  • People who are emotionally immature only feel good about themselves when they can get other people to give them what they want and to act like they think they should.
  • For emotionally immature people, all interactions boil down to the question of whether they’re good people or bad ones, which explains their extreme defensiveness if you try to talk to them about something they did.
  • If there’s anything emotionally immature people are keen on in relationships, it’s role compliance. Roles simplify and make decisions clear-cut.
  • Role entitlement is an attitude of demanding certain treatment because of your social role.
  • Role coercion occurs when people insist that someone live out a role because they want them to.
  • In enmeshment two emotionally immature people seek their identity and self-completion through an intense, dependent relationship.
  • Obvious favoritism isn’t a sign of a close relationship; it’s a sign of enmeshment.
  • Self-sufficient children who don’t spur their parents to become enmeshed are often left alone to create a more independent and self-determined life. Therefore, they can achieve a level of self- development exceeding that of their parents.
  • Emotionally immature parents can act out their need for enmeshment even with people who aren’t close family members.
  • When they get emotionally aroused, moments exist in a kind of eternal now. This is the reason why the lives of emotionally immature people are often beset with problems: they don’t see them coming. When acting on their impulses, they don’t use the past for guidance, and they don’t anticipate the future.
  • Emotionally immature people may seem to be emotional manipulators, but actually they’re just very opportunistic tacticians, pressing for whatever feels best at the time. They have no investment in being consistent, so they say whatever gives them an edge in the moment.
  • Lying is the perfect example of a momentary win that feels good but is destructive to a relationship in the long run.
  • This is one reason why they’re often indignant when you remind t hem of their past behavior. For them, the past is gone and has nothing to do with the present.
  • People who foucs mostly on the present moment don’t have enough of a time perspective to engage in self-reflection. They don’t understand why others can’t just forgive, forget, and move on.
  • Lacking a firm sense of self, they think family closeness means enmeshment, with people existing to mirror each other. Real communication is nearly impossible because of their poor empathy and rigid emphasis on roles.
  • There’s basically one way to provide nurturing love, but many ways to frustrate a child’d need for love.
  • The four types of emotionally immature parents:
    • Emotional parents are run by their feelings, swinging between overinvolvement and abrupt withdrawal. They are prone to frightening instability and unpredictability. Overwhelmed by anxiety, they rely on others to stabilize them. They treat small upsets like the end of the world and see other people as either rescuers or abandoners.
    • Driven parents are compulsively goal-oriented and super busy. They can’t stop trying to perfect everything, including other people. They are controlling and interfering when it comes to running their children’s lives.
    • Passive parents have a laissez-faire mind-set and avoid dealing with anything upsetting. They readily take a backseat to a dominant mate, even allowing abuse and neglect to occur by looking the other way. They cope by minimizing problems and acquiescing.
    • Rejecting parents engage in a range of behaviors that make you wonder why they have a family in the first place. They don’t enjoy emotional intimacy and clearly don’t want to be bothered by children. Their tolerance for other people’s needs is practically nil, and their interactions consist of issuing commands, blowing up, or isolating themselves from family life. They mostly want to be left alone to do their thing.
  • Some parents are a blend of types. While most parents tend to fall into one category, any may be prone to behaviors that fit a different type when under certain kinds of stress.
  • Emotional parents are the most infantile of the four types. They give the impression that they need to be watched over and handled carefully. It doesn’t take much to upset them.
  • Driven parents are the type that tends to look most normal, even appearing exceptionally invested in their children’s lives. Being driven, they’re always focused on getting things done. They make their children feel evaluated constantly.
  • When the mother is the passive parent, she may staty with a partner who demeans or abuses her children because she doesn’t have an independent income. Such mothers often numb themselves to what’s going on around them.
  • Children tend to fall into just two categories: internalizers and externalizers. Neither coping style allows a child to fully develop his or her potential. As a result, they start believing that the only way to be noticed is to become something other than who they really are.
  • The one thing all emotionally deprived children have in common is coming up with a fantasy about how they will eventually get what they need.
  • We might think our emotional loneliness will finally be healed by a partner who always think of our needs first or a friend who never lets us down. Often these unconscious fantasies are quite self-defeating.
  • Successful marital therapy often involves exposing how people’s fantasies try to force their partners to give them the loving childhood they always wished for.
  • Instead of just being who you are, you’ll develop a role-self, or pseudo-self that will give you a secure place in your family system. This role-self gradually replaces the spontaneous expression of the true self. The process of assuming a role-self is unconscious; nobody sets out to do it deliberately.
  • It’s common for emotionally immature parents to subconsciously use different children in the family to express unresolved aspects of their own role-self and healing fantasies. One child may be idealized and indulged as the perfect child, while another is tagged as incompetent, always screwing up and needing help.
  • This kind of disinvestment from your true self can sabotage your intimate relationships as an adult. You can’t forge a deep and satisfying relationship from the position of a role-self. You have to be able to express enough of your true self to give the other person something real to relate to.
  • Playing a role is much more tiring than just being yourself because it takes a huge effort to be something you are not.
  • Playing a role-self usually doesn’t work in the long run because it can never completely hide people’s true inclinations. Sooner or later, their genuine needs will bubble up.
  • Identifying your healing fantasy.
    • I wish other people were more …
    • Why is it so hard for people to …
    • For a change, I would love someone to treat me like …
    • Maybe one of these days I’ll find someone who will …
    • In an ideal world with good people, other people would …
  • Identifying your role-self.
    • I try hard to be …
    • The main reason people like me is because I …
    • Other people don’t appreciate how much I …
    • I always have to be the one who …
    • I’ve tried to be the kind of person who …
  • Children who are internalizers believe it’s up to them to change things, whereas externalizers expect others to do it for them.
  • Which style you’ve adopted is probably more a matter of personality and constitution than choice.
  • original entry: https://raulbarraltamayo.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/adult-children-of-emotionally-immature-parents-by-lindsay-c-gibson-psyd/
  • Most emotionally immature parents have an externalizing coping style.
  • Emotionally immature parents may indulge an externalizing child because doing so distracts them from their own unresolved issues.
  • When under severe stress, some internalizers start reacting as impusively as any externalizer.
  • People who seek therapy or enjoy reading about self-help are far more likely to have an internalizing style of coping. They are always trying to figure out what they can do to change their lives for the better.
  • People who externalize their problems are more likely to end up in treatment due to external pressures, such as courts, marital ultimatums, or rehab.
  • People who fall at the extremes of either coping style usually have significant problems in living.
  • Under the right conditions, each style might be useful; ultimately, problems tend to arise when people get stuck at the extreme of either coping style.
  • Internalizers are extremely sensitive and, far more than most people, notice everything.
  • Other people are likely to see externalizers as having a behavior problem rather than an emotional issue, even though emotions are causing the behavior.
  • If there’s anything internalizers have in common, it’s their need to share their inner experience. As children, their need for genuine emotional connection is  the central fact of their existence. Nothing hurts their spirit more than being around someone who won’t engage with them emotionally. They find nothing more exhilarating than clicking with someone who gets them. When they can’t make that kind of connection, they feel emotional loneliness.
  • These children come to believe that the price of making a connection is to put other people first and treat them as more important. They think they can keep relationships by being the giver.
  • Why is emotional connection so crucial? Instead of just having the involuntary stress reactions of fight, flight or freeze, like reptiles do, mammals can calm their heart rate and reduce the physical costs of stress by seeking reassuring contact with others of their kind.
  • It’s crucial that internalizers see their instinctive desire for emotional engagement as a positive thing, rather than interpreting it to mean they’re too needy or dependent.
  • Externalizers demand attention by blaming or guilt-tripping others. As a result, people may end up feeling that they have to help, whether they want to or not, creating resentment over the long run.
  • Most emotionally immature people tend to be externalizers who don’t know how to calm themselves through genuine emotional engagement.
  • Anger, blame, criticism, and domination are all signs of poorly functioning skills in seeking comfort. They simply don’t know how to reach out for soothing.
  • Everyone needs a deep sense of connection in order to feel fully secure, and there’s nothing weak about it.
  • Internalizers are convinced that their deepest feelings are a nuisance to other people.
  • Internalizers routinely take on so much responsability for others, they’re deeply grateful for even the smallest bit of recognition. In fact, this is one of the hallmarks of an internalizer: an almost over-the-top gratitude for any kind of recognition or special affection.
  • The self-sufficiency of internalizing children tends to create the impression that they have no needs. They’re expected to be okay and get along without anyone watching over them carefully. They maybe characterized as “old souls”, with their parents counting on them to do the right thing.
  • Children who had to become tough and handle things on their own may develop a rejecting attitude toward their own feelings.
  • Only an emotionally attentive parent could have made her feel that being herself was enough.
  • Many people who were neglected as children don’t realize that their independence was a necessity, not a choice.
  • Unfortunately, children who become so independent may not learn how to ask for help in life when it’s readily available. It often falls to psychotherapits or other counselors to coax these people into accepting their need for help as legitimate.
  • Because internalizers look within themselves for reason why things go wrong, they may not always recognize abuse for what it is. If parents don’t label their own behavior as abusive, their child won’t label it that way either. Even as adults, many people have no idea that what happened to them in childhood was abusive. As a result, they may not recognize abusive behavior in their adult relationships.
  • With their liveliness and good sense of humor, they help others feel that things aren’t so bad.
  • Internalizers act as if there’s reciprocity when there isn’t.
  • Needy externalizers tend to pursue wam and giving internalizers.
  • Needy strangers will gobble up a sensitive person’s attention if given half a chance, whether on an airplane, in an elevator, or while waiting in line.
  • Many internalizers subconsciously believe that neglecting oneself is a sign of being a good person.
  • When an internalizer ultimately does give up, the other person may be caught off guard, since the internalizer had continued to reach out and try to connect for so long.
  • Painful symptoms like depression, anxiety, chronic tension, or not sleeping can all be signals that old strategies to rewrite reality have become unsustainable. These psychological and physical symptoms are a warning system, telling us that we need to get back in sync with who we are and how we really feel.
  • This self is the source of our unique individuality and is unaffected by the family pressures that mod our role-selves.
  • The true self is the source of all gut feelings and intuition, including immediate, accurate impressions of other people.
  • When we’re in accord with our true selves, we see things clearly and feel that we’re in a state of flow.
  • Your true self has the same needs asa flourishing healthy child: to grow, be known, and express itself. It only wants to be genuine with other people and sincere in tis own pursuits.
  • Children stay in alignment with their true self if the important adults in their lives support doing so. However, when they’re criticized or shamed, they learn to feel embarrased by their true desires.
  • Think back to yourself as a child. Go deep and be honest. What were you like before you started trying to be someone else? What did you enjoy? What made you feel good? If you could be the person you really are, what would your life be like right now? I recommend looking back to who you were before fourth grade. What were you interested in? Who were your favorite people, and what did you like about them? If you had free time, what did you like to do? How did you like to play? What was your idea of a perfect day? What really raised your energies?
  • Psychotherapy and the like are aids to help us become aware of truths we already know in our bones.
  • Emotional distress is a signal that it’s getting harder to remain emotionally unconscious. It means we’re about to discover our true selves underneath all that story business.
  • Developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1963) observed that in order for people to learn anything new, their old mental pattern must break up and rework itself around the new, incoming knowledge. Emotional distress is potentially a sign of growth, not necessarily illness.
  • Polish pshychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski observed that psychologically unaware people weren’t likely to change much after an emotional upheaval. Other people, however, seemed to take periods of distress as opportunities to learn about themselves, meeting challenging emotional conditions with curiosity and a desire to learn from them.
  • Instead of shutting down or getting defensive when faced with difficult experiences, people with developmental potential try to discover a deeper understanding about themselves and reality.
  • You can do this exercise anytime you’re feeling especially anxious or in a down mood. At those times, ask yourself whether you might be harboring some hidden feelings. Consider the times when you feel worst and see if they’re related to thinking about a certain person. In my experience, the two feelings people seem most reluctant to admit are being afraid of someone of not liking someone.
  • Some people think it’s necessary to confront the other person to get a true resolution, but I believe this is often counterproductive and provokes too much anxiety. You can always talk to the person later if you wish, but first you need to regain your ability to speak your feelings to yourself. Just to be clear, what helps isn’t telling the other person; it’s knowing what you really feel. Simply admitting your true feelings and stating them out loud can make a huge difference in regaining your emotional peace.
  • Because anger is an expression of individuality, it’s the emotion that emotionally immature parents most often punish their children for having.
  • It’s often a good sign when overly responsible, anxious, or depressed people being to be consciously aware of feeling angry. It indicates that their true self is coming to the fore and that they’re beginning to care about themselves.
  • Internalizers are notorious for not taking good care of themselves.
  • Because intimate adult relationships are so emotionally arousing, they tend to activate unresolved issues about not getting our emotional needs met. We often project issues about our parents onto our partners.
  • One of the hardest fantasies to wake up from is the belief that our parents are wiser and know more than we do.
  • Working through childhood emotional injuries is the most effective way of waking up from repeating the past. The mental and emotional process of coming to grips with painful realities.
  • Research suggests that what happened to people matters less than whether they’ve processed what happened to them.
  • It’s hard to see our parents as fallible human beings. As children, we believe our parents can do anything.
  • A common fantasy among children of emotionally immature parents is that their parents will have a change of heart and finally love them by showing concern.
  • Three key approaches will help you free yourself from getting caught up in your parent’s emotional immaturity: detached observation, maturity awareness, and stepping away from your old role-self.
  • You can’t win your parent over, but you can save yourself.
  • Enmeshment occurs when parents don’t respect boundaries, project their unresolved issues onto their children.
  • When interacting with emotionally immature people, you’ll feel more centered if you operate from a calm, thinking perspective, rather than emotional reactivity.
  • Your job is to stay detached emotionally and observe how others behave, just like a scientist would.
  • If you start slipping into your fantasy that you may be able to get the other person to change, you’ll feel weak, vulnerable, apprehensive, and needy. It’s a signal that you need to shift out of responding emotionally and move back into observing mode.
  • Silently narrating your own emotional reactions can give you that extra bit of objectivity that cools things down.
  • Staying observational isn’t passive; it’s a very active process.
  • Observing allows you to stay in a state of relatedness with your parents or other loved ones without getting caught up in their emotional tactics and expectations about how you should be.
  • Estimating the probable maturity level of the person you’re dealing with is one of the best ways to take care of yourself in any interaction. Once you peg a person’s maturity level, his or her responses will make more sense and be more predictable.
  • There are three ways to relate to the person without getting yourself upset: 1. Expressing and then letting go. 2. Focusing on the outcome, not the relationship. 3. Managing, not engaging.
  • You can’t force others to empathize or understand. The point is to feel good about yourself for engaging in what I call clear, intimate communication.
  • Ask yourself what you’re really trying to get from the other person in this interaction. Be honest. Do you want his or her to listen to you? Understand you? Regret his or her behaviour? Apologize to you? Make amends? If your goal involves empathy or a change of heart, stop right there and come up with a different goal, one that’s specific and achievable.
  • You can’t expect immature, emotionally phobic people to be different from how they are. However, you can set a specific goal for the interaction.
  • Let me be crystal clear: focus on the outcome, not the relationship. As soon as you focus on the relationship and try to improve it or change it at an emotional level, an interaction with an emotionally immature person will deteriorate.
  • With emotionally mature people, you can talk about your feelings honestly, and they’ll share their feelings and thoughts with you as well.
  • Emotionally immature people don’t have a good strategy for countering another person’s persistence. Their attempts at diversion and avoidance ultimately break down if you keep asking the same question.
  • There’s nothing right or wrong about thoughts. To be an emotionally mature adult, you must be free to observe and assess others in the privacy of your own mind. It isn’t disloyal to have your own opinion.
  • Have you noticed that no matter what you do, your parents don’t stay happy for long? Just because they’re complaining doesn’t necessarily mean their goal is to feel better. Treat them nicely, but don’t bleed for them. Their healing story and role-selves may require a lot of suffering and complaining.
  • The ability to step back and observe not only your parent but also your own role-self is where emotional freedom begins. When you see how you’ve gotten stuck in a role-self and are trying to make a healing fantasy come true, you can decide to do it differently.
  • If the child doesn’t take the bait, such parents may ultimately start relating in a more genuine way.
  • Your inner child will always hope that your parents will finally change and offer what you’ve always longed for. But your job is to keep your adult outlook and continue relating to them as a separate, independent adult.
  • In your interactions, just keep observing the present moment, and then follow the inclinations of your true nature. Your true self knows everyone involved and the reality of the situation, so it’s likely to come up with exactly the response that’s needed. But the only way the true self can do that is if you stay in an objective, whatchful state that’s grounded in your own individuality.
  • Parents who need to keep strict control because of their anxieties often teach their children not only how they should do things, but also how they should feel and think.
  • Internalizing children often learn to feel ashamed of the following normal behaviors: enthusiasm, spontaneity, sadness and grief over hurt, loss, or change, uninhibited affection, saying what they really feel and think, expressing anger when they feel wronged or slighted.
  • They are taught that the following experiences and feelings are acceptable or even desirable: obedience and deference towar authority, physical illness or injury that puts the parent in a position of strength and control, uncertainty and self-doubt, liking the same things as the parent, guilt and shame over imperfections or being different, willingness to listen, especially to the parent’s distress and complaints, stereotyped gender roles, typically people-pleasing in girls and toughness in boys.
  • You were taught many self-defeating things about how to get along in life. Here are some of the biggest ones: give first consideration to what other people want you to do, don’t speak up for yourself, don’t ask for help, don’t want anything for yourself.
  • Everyone internalizes their parents’ voices; it’s how we’re socialized. The goal is to recognize the voice as something imported that isn’t part of your true self, so that it no longer feels like part of your own thinking.
  • You may have learned the absurd idea that you can be a bad person for having certain thoughts and feelings, and you may still hold that belief. You need to access to all your inner experiences, without feeling guilty or ashamed of them. You’ll have more energy when you let your thoughts and feelings flow naturally, without worrying about what they mean about you.
  • Having a thought or feeling isn’t initially under your control. You don’t plan to think or feel things, you just do.
  • Accepting the truth of your feelings and thoughts doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a whole person, and mature enough to know your own mind.
  • Some parents are so unreflective that, despite repeated explanations, they simply don’t accept that their behavior is problematic.
  • You don’t need to have an active relationship with your parents to free yourself from their influence.
  • True freedom from unhealthy roles and relationships starts within each of us, not in our interactions and confrontations with others.
  • Your job is to take care of yourself, regardless of what others think you should be doing for them.
  • Paying attention to subtle energy drains form other people can help you realize when you’re giving too much. Even in minor encounters, you can adjust how much you give so you won’t be exhausted by trying to fulfill others’ needs.
  • In order to take care of yourself, you need to feel compassion for yourself. Knowing your own feelings and having sympathy for yourself are two basic building blocks of strong individuality. Only if you have self-compassion will you know when to set limits or stop giving excessively.
  • Grief and tears are a normal response to the dawning of self-compassion, arising as we come to grips with painful truths that are hard to take in. If you’ve spent many years not being validated, you’ve probably suppressed sadness more than any other emotion.
  • I often tell clients that tears can be thought of as a physical sign of the integration process that’s ocurring in our hearts and minds.
  • Growing up with emotionally immature parents may hace caused you to feel helpless, both as a child and as an adult. You may have been convinced that all you could do was wait until someone felt like giving you what you need.
  • Expressing yourself with emotionally immature people is an important act of self-affirmation. Remember, an important step in the maturity awareness approach is expressing yourself, and then letting go.
  • It’s important to relinquish the belief that if your parents loved you, they’d understand you. As an independent adult, you can function without their understanding.
  • The point of expressing your feelings is to be true to yourself, not to change your parents.
  • When you seem strong and they sense that you no longer need their approval, they may be able to relax more.
  • When they’re no longer under pressure to change, they may be able to treat you differently, or not. Your job is to be okay either way.
  • The most painful interactions with emotionally immature parents occur when their children need something from them.
  • Many self-involved parents like it when their child is needy and they can be the center of the child’s longing.
  • John Bowlby (1979) said: “All humans share the primitive instinct the familiarity means safety”.
  • Recognizing emotionally mature people:
    • Acknowledge reality on its own terms. They see problems and try to fix them, instead of overreacting with a fixation on how things should be.
    • Ability to think even when upset makes an emotionally mature person someone you can reason with. Because they can think and feel at the same time, it’s easy to work things out with such people.
    • Because they have an integrated sense of self, they usually won’t surprise you with unexpected inconsistencies. You can count on them to be basically the same across different situations.
    • They are realistic enough to not be offended easily and can laugh at themselves and their foibles.
    • They respect your boundaries.
    • They give back.
    • They are usually flexible and try to be fair and objective.
    • They’re even-tempered.
    • They are willing to be influenced.
    • They’re truthful.
    • They apologize and make amends.
    • Their empathy makes you feel safe.
    • They make you feel seen and understood.
  • The sooner temper shows up in a relationship, the worse the implications.
  • People who have a short fuse and expect that life should go according to their wishes don’t make for good company. If you find yourself reflexively stepping in to soothe someone’s anger, watch out.
  • Mature people find a sustained state of anger unpleasant, so they quickly try to find a way to get past it. Less mature people, on the other hand, may feed their anger and act as a though reality should adapt to them.
  • People who show anger by withdrawing love are particularly pernicious. Nothing gets solved and the other person just feels punished.
  • Men are specially prone to rejecting a partner’s input, since they’re socialized to be self-assured and to resist undue influence.
  • People who are sincere won’t just apologize; they’ll also make a clear statement about how they intend to do things differently.
  • Empathy is what makes people feel safe in relationships.
  • A person who isn’t responsive to your feelings won’t be emotionally safe when the two of you have any kind of disagreement.
  • You’ll discover that when you feel distressed, emotionally mature people don’t pull back. They aren’t afraid of your emotions and don’t tell you that you should be feeling some other way. You will want to tell them things. It’s wonderful and validating to find someone who really listens.
  • Humor is a delightful form of responsiveness, and also a highly adaptive coping mechanism.
  • Emotionally immature people often have difficulty engaging in humor in ways that strengthen bonds with others. Instead, they push humor on others, even when others aren’t amused.
  • Ask yourself how you feel about people’s tiing and pacing. Are they respectful of your boundaries and how fast or slow you want to go in getting to know each other? Do you feel pressured for instant intimacy, or do they take an uncomfortably long time to respond? Do you get the feeling they’re pinning too many hopes on you before they even know you? Are they reciprocal? Do they keep a conversation going by asking questions to get to know you better or find out your thoughts on a certain topic?
  • Exploring new ways of being in relationships: being willing to ask for help, being myself, whether people accept me or not, sustaining and appreciating emotional connections, having reasonable expectations for myself, communicating clearly and actively seeking the outcomes I want.
  • Even if you didn’t learn these values and ways of interacting as a child, you can develop them now.
  • Having emotionally immature parents may have undermined your self-acceptance, self-expressiveness, and hopes for genuine intimacy, but there’s nothing to hold you back now as an adult.
  • It’s been my experience that greater awareness brings its own gifts, most of which involve a fuller, deeper connection with the world and oneself.
  • When you resolve your confusion and frustration about the behavior of emotionally immature people, life feels lighter and easier.
  • People who engage in self-discoverty and emotional development get to have a seconf life, one t hat was unimaginable as long as they remained caught in old family roles and wishful fantasies.
  • There’s no reason you can’t have a happy life starting right now.
  • Is it worth the pain to get to live twice in one life? Are you glad you’ve chosen the path of awareness? Yes? Me too.

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