.et_fixed_nav #logo { max-height: 160px; }
The Human Condition: Anger About Unmet Needs in Childhood

The Human Condition: Anger About Unmet Needs in Childhood

Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar

This morning I read an article that has inspired a new category of Blog Post for Whole Self Therapy: The Human Condition. In The Human Condition, I will be sharing stories that illustrate what we humans all share: feelings, experiences, unmet needs.

One of my favorite shows over the last few years has been HBO’s Succession. It’s a fabulously written and acted series about a super-wealthy family consisting of a patriarch, Logan Roy, and his four entitled adult children. In Succession we watch each of Roy’s children struggle in their intimate relationships and vie for power as well as their father’s approval. Each character is so complex that it is hard to make a clear judgment about any of them; they are all nuanced and relatable in some way.

The elder, Logan Roy, is played by the seventy-five-year-old actor Brian Cox. In his recent interview published by the NY Times, Cox speaks about his mutuality with the authoritarian character he plays:

He’s quite angry. That’s something that probably he and I have in common.

Why are you angry? I’m angry about my childhood, in retrospect. I look upon it now, and I go, “Jesus, that was [expletive], and there was nobody really to help me.” I had to do it all on my own. I felt I needed some parental help. I needed some guidance. My son will tell you. I’m quite angry at times.

As a Schema Therapist, these words jumped out at me. Here is a man, a well-established and successful actor who is self-aware enough to know that his anger stems from his unmet childhood need for guidance.

We all have unmet childhood needs. 

This is the human condition. 

In psychotherapy, we often work together to explore and express those needs and the feelings associated with them. We do this because our experiences from childhood don’t leave when we turn eighteen; they stay with us for a lifetime.

For Cox, there is unresolved anger. While knowing and expressing it are both positive things, what is unfortunate is that it sounds like the anger is being expressed in the wrong direction: toward his son. When we carry around feelings that have not been fully resolved we all can “take it out” on those we care about the most. And very few of us do that intentionally.

This is why it is important to “do your own work” so that you don’t inadvertently hurt those closest to you in your life now with the wounds that were bestowed by ghosts from your past. This is how we end the legacy of relational trauma. 

 

Check out the full New York Times article here: 

A Tale of Two Forces

A Tale of Two Forces

Although it has been several years since I was introduced to the allegorical teaching about the individual’s ability to choose in dealing with internal conflict, this lesson has recently resurfaced in my personal and professional life over the past several weeks. While traditionally conveyed in a Native American allegory, I have found the same sentiment expressed by the Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, in the introduction to his new book Love’s Garden, A Guide to Mindful Relationships. The similarities in these metaphors are clear:

In both of these allegories the idea that each individual has opposing forces within which we all must learn to navigate is emphasized. The individual’s ability to choose where they put their attention in these narratives is clear, which creates a sense of autonomy and personal power.

Not unlike the epic story told in the Star Wars movies, we each have a light and a dark force, but it is up to the individual to be aware of those forces, and to concentrate their efforts toward their chosen aims. As the saying goes “where the mind goes, the energy flows.”

Even in cultivating an awareness of these polarities can begin to create a space in which we can cease self-judgment and begin to understand and honor the dynamics of having a Self. We all have these forces within. We all get to choose where we focus, how we expend our energies. In that space of freedom we can begin to explore our options, and choose according to our values instead of acting out of habit.

In his book, Thich Nhat Hahn expands upon this idea of dual gardens within and also uses the ‘two garden’ metaphor as it applies to relationships. He encourages each of us to not only nourish the garden of kindness and compassion within but to also see those qualities in our beloved and through the process of ‘selective gardening,’ to foster their qualities of inherent goodness, kindness and love.

Read the full introduction to Thich Nhat Hanh’s new book on Lion’s Roar

Child.ol’.a.try: 1. Worship of one’s children at the expense of one’s marriage. 2. Why parenthood today kills sex and creates marital dissatisfaction.

Read more

There are no long-term, lasting benefits from taking A.D.H.D. medications… but mindfulness seems to be training the same areas of the brain that have reduced activity in A.D.H.D. That’s why mindfulness might be so important…  it seems to get at the causes.

Read more