Regardless how perfect, ordinary or tragic our childhood, our parents placed an indelible mark on who we are: our DNA, strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, beliefs of what’s possible, level of self-confidence and even our hope for the future. In today’s article, we’ll explore how to pick up the reigns where our fathers left off, and ride our personal chariots (called bodies) into the sunset of life (empowerment).
The importance of fathers
Without the intention of being stereotypical and knowing full-well that women can also embody fatherly characteristics, I say with certainty that masculine support can come in a myriad of forms. Whether our fathers inspired us to be adventurous, perform well in business, stand up and do the “right” thing, play hard in sports, taught us to fix engines, maintain equipment, do math equations, mow the lawn, tend cattle, or write poetry, cook, sew or perform on stage—their presence, willingness to share and also put up with our shenanigans were all signs that they were, in fact, our dads.
And, for any of us who don’t have contact with our fathers (through absence or death) we’re presented with a special opportunity—to consciously define their importance. We might ask ourselves what kind of father we would have liked, or would we like to be. Even if we learned what not to do from our fathers, they are still important.
In working with people to increase their willpower and overcome addictions, I’ve seen how deeply people are affected by their fathers. There are two areas where our perspective of our fathers may limit us: “our” beliefs and sense of approval.
For example, my dad is a super hard worker. His work ethic (before he retired) consisted of work, work, work a little more and then get up and work again. He often said to me, “If you want something done right, you’ve gotta do it yourself.” Unconsciously, I “absorbed” his two beliefs that I had to “work hard” and “not get help” in order to succeed. I carried these beliefs into my thirties. I overworked myself to sickness, and because I sought my father’s approval, I was proud to tell him how much I accomplished, even while ill. I also attracted employees that were “lazy,” and required me to do everything myself in order to accomplish tasks. Although it temporarily “felt good” to know that I could do all the work, it always led me to feelings of isolation, anger and self-pity. UNTIL, I started learning about the power of beliefs. I discovered the limiting beliefs I had “absorbed” from others (including my dad), and replaced them with empowering ones. I now believe that “I have all the great help I need” and that work is “easy, fun and creative.” It certainly makes my work life more enjoyable!
What do you believe?
I’ve found that most people unconsciously take on their parents’ beliefs, and think that they’re their own. The way we can know if we’ve done this is to ask ourselves why we believe what we do. If we spout off an answer that we heard our parents say many times before, or we don’t know the answer, chances are the beliefs may not actually be ours.
Whose approval do you seek?
Do you seek your father’s approval? Your mother’s? Your friends and family?
Ultimately, in a world where we are all empowered, we need only our own approval. By “our own,” I do not mean the selfish, ego-driven part of us that feeds on sex, drugs, rock-and-roll and donuts. I mean the part of us that is one with Life/God, that has willingly submitted to what is best for us (and which is not necessarily what we “want”—like vegetables).
I’ve witnessed people torture themselves for many years and sometimes a lifetime as they desperately seek approval from parents, lovers, mates, friends, pastors … God, you name it. And if the person they seek approval from is dead, incapacitated or cannot be reached, they often carry that burden for a lifetime. If any of us are having trouble forgiving our fathers, feel welcome to read my previous, free article here http://www.willyou.guru/forgiving-ourselves/ . When we seek approval from ourselves/Life/God, approval from others becomes unnecessary.
Are we “OK?”
The trouble with seeking approval from others is that it requires someone else to tell us that we are “OK.” By disempowering ourselves in this way, we have given away our freedom, happiness, success, love, etc. to the person we deem as having authority or wisdom greater than our own. This sets us up for failure, as we have set our standards of conduct outside of us. It’s understandable, most of us have done it, but it’s silly, really. Because, what human being can accurately tell us what is best for us or what we need or how to live? And even if that person was graced with the ability to know everything, why would we want to continue relying on him or her to tell us what to do, when we could ask and listen and receive those answers directly from the source?
Often, we seek approval from others because we are afraid. We’re afraid of making the wrong decision. Afraid of losing a person’s affection. Afraid of falling out of favor. Afraid that we are not good enough, smart enough, well-liked enough, or “connected” to Life/God’s will enough to know the “true” answer. And most challenging of all, we might be afraid of knowing the “truth” because it may not be what we selfishly want. So we hide and deny and lie and suppress and distract ourselves with unhealthy behavior so we can avoid the truth. To read more about how to know the difference between what we want, what we need and what’s best, read a previous, free article here http://www.willyou.guru/wantneedbest/
We’ve already received Life/God’s stamp of approval
Truth be known, Life/God has already approved of us being here, or it would take us from this world, at its will, in an instant. This can be enough of an approval for us to go on living and succeeding and enjoying and creating and loving.
When we accept this—that Life/God’s approval of us is enough, then we can quit seeking approval from others. And what a relief that is! Next, we may move on—to finding our passions and asking Life what it wants from us, and doing that. That’s what’s called, “being in the world but not of the world”—seeking not from others what already exists within. That is freedom from innumerable standards of society, and focus on the standards of Life/God. All of which can be learned “for free” through the “inner work” of meditation, spirituality, religion, nature, etc.
Are we ready to give ourselves some protective, fatherly love?
Let’s start by protecting ourselves from limiting beliefs and empowering ourselves with new ones. Take these easy, first steps.
1) Think of one area of strife in your life.
2) Ask yourself, “What are my beliefs about this?”
3) Ask yourself, “Do these beliefs serve me anymore?”
4) If not, ask yourself, “What belief(s) would better serve the me I want to be?”
What say ye?
What belief did you absorb from your father that no longer serves you? What is your “new truth?” Please share your thoughts and feelings so we may grow in strength and willpower together …
Always with love,
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