It may be a bit of a cliché that parents mess up their kids – but in some ways, it’s true. Psychotherapists frequently talk about ‘injunctions,’ which are subliminal messages passed on from parent to child. Some common injunctions are Don’t Grow Up, Don’t Exist, Don’t Think, Don’t Be A Child, Don’t Succeed.
Most parents have no idea that they’re giving these messages out; it simply comes down to how a child’s mind processes certain information. For example, ‘Don’t wear that, young lady, it’s far too provocative’ is an example of Don’t Grow Up, or ‘Shall I help you with that?’ is an example of Don’t Think. Of course, the injunctions can be harsher sometimes, such as ‘You’re not very academic,’ or
‘You’ll never find a husband,’ which are examples of Don’t Succeed.
These injunctions are buried at a deep subliminal level and yet they inform all your decisions. As an adult, if you struggle to hold down a job or keep a good relationship on track, it scould be that you have a Don’t Succeed parental injunction. Others may be affecting you, too.
Think back over your childhood and note down any words or phrases that your parents used frequently when talking to you, to see if you can discover the injunctions you are holding. Make the decision to do the opposite and prove the injunction to be false, rather than a selffulfilling prophecy!