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Hidden in Plain Sight
Getting to the Bottom of Puzzling Emotions
by Barry Grosskopf, M.D.

Other Excerpts

Childish Perspectives As An Adult
“We tend to blame our parents for the emotional problems we have; and unless we make a conscious effort to do otherwise, we also tend to accept the judgments we formed of them in childhood and adolescence. But as children, we did not have the experience to relate to our parents’ world; as adolescents we had better things to do; and as adults, we do not automatically use our mature experience to perceive our parents differently. We each have a natural blind spot that gets in the way of seeing our parents accurately and keeps us from imagining the reality of their lives. In the ordinary course of affairs, we hold on to our longstanding beliefs and dismiss whatever contradicts them. Radical challenges in how we view our lives are too unsettling.”

Our Family History Is Hidden In Plain Sight
“So much of our family’s history is hidden from us in plain sight. As we learn new facts and come to better appreciate the significance of our parents’ stories, we are startled into new awareness with each revelation. We are amazed at how much we had previously overlooked or taken for granted.”

Our Natural Blind Spot
“We also have a psychological blind spot, one that affects how we see the world. From birth, our brain transforms chaotic stimulation that assaults us into order by making each of us the center of our own perceptual universe. Our minds distort reality by giving each of us the illusion that we are central.”

Evolving Attitudes
“Our feelings about ourselves and our families change as we come to know our family stories better. Our life stories change as we reassess them in maturity. We learn new facts and new details; our own experiences with life rebuke our arrogance; we empathize more and judge less. We apply our life experience to our parents’ stories, then reconstruct our own. Our thoughts and attitudes do not necessarily evolve as we mature.”

Destructive Patterns
“Parents react to their own histories as they raise their children. Unresolved issues from a parent’s childhood trigger further turmoil in family life. When their children inevitably thwart or frustrate them, parents find that their frustration becomes a blank screen for the projection of feelings learned in childhood, and they observe themselves, often to their horror, parroting the very words and gestures that their parents used on them as children. The destructive patterns repeat from one generation to another, echoing through the years—unless something happens to break the cycle, to heal the hurt places within.”

The Conscious Authors Of Our Own Healing Story
“The relationship we have with our parents is the template for all of our subsequent relationships. The way we react to our parents fashions our most intimate reactions to friends, coworkers, and most of all, to our partners and our children. If we were hurt as children, we may continue to react as we did as children all through our lives. The anger, hostility, or contempt we felt toward our parents brims over onto other relationships. Ironically, when we act toward our parents, they begin to react to us as our parents once did. If instead we find a way to treat our parents well, we correct something within ourselves. We become the conscious authors of our own healing story.”

Putting Yourself In Your Parents’ Shoes
“To understand others, we have to open our emotions to their experience. We have to close our eyes, imagine looking out of theirs, and put ourselves into their story. Otherwise, thinking we understand another person’s life story is like listening to music and being tone deaf. But how often do we imagine ourselves living our parents’ experience?”

The Inheritance Of Negativity
“Remembered or not, the intense emotions from our earliest years have enduring effects. Emotions associated with traumatic times may be passed down to children and continue to be passed on for generations.”

See Your Parents As Children
“We do not truly see our parents as long as we view them as we did when we were children. We must relinquish our own point of view and try to imagine the world through their eyes. This allows us to gain perspective that takes us outside the realm of our childhood reactions and away from our immediate, reflexive response of hurt and anger.”

Excerpts from Hidden in Plain Sight: Getting to the Bottom of Puzzling Emotions. Copyright 2007 by Barry Grosskopf, M.D. Published by VanderWyk & Burnham. All rights reserved. Above paragraphs may be used separately with proper citation.
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