How do you feel when somebody makes that comment? Do you squirm or smile? Do you feel as if you’ve been criticised or as if you’ve received a compliment?
For the moment let’s not get distracted by the ‘facts’ regarding how upstanding and admirable or how despicable and revolting your parents actually are; instead, pay attention to your response to being tagged with the same brush.
I’ve had a very intense relationship with my mother over the years. She’s been my greatest inspiration and my greatest disappointment. Her character traits have caused me more upset than almost anyone else, and simultaneously, more opportunity for growth. I have criticised her for her choices, her behaviour, her treatment of her own mother, her treatment of my sister, her relationship with her grandchildren… and I’ve observed the degree to which she has become that which she has condemned, fulfilling a timeless universal law. I’ve experienced deep sadness and grief over her apparent losses and failures; aside from feeling her own disappointment, they meant she was crashing from the pedestal I had placed her on. I’ve also experienced superiority and arrogance about those same choices and behaviours because I would never behave that way!
Here's another question: how do you feel when you catch yourself saying or doing something that one of your parents do or did, especially something that you swore you would never do? Does it generates a warm, fuzzy feeling or an uncomfortable, disturbed feeling?
I’ve noticed that there are broadly two groups of people: those who are proud to be like their parents and those who are horrified, but when we delve a little more deeply, we find that both responses usually betray a ‘one-eyed-ness’; those who are proud are blinding themselves to the traits they don’t admire, and those who are horrified are blinding themselves to the traits they might admire.
Aside from that, when we consider the age-old teaching ‘I Am That’, we realise that we embody all of our parents’ traits, whether we aspire to do so or not. This has little to do with the fact that they are our parents; we embody those traits because we are each a mini-Universe; we contain not only all of the chemical elements of the cosmos but also every single human trait. We embody those traits in either expressed or repressed form, and here’s where our parents come in. They are the ones whose behaviour, when we were children, influenced us to form the beliefs and emotional reactions that would determine which human traits we would express and which we would repress.
Whatever our parents modelled for us, we modelled on – we created templates for behaviour based on how they interacted with us and with their world. We either welcomed their example or we resisted and resented it, whether consciously or unconsciously. If we resisted and resented it, we very likely committed ourselves to becoming just like them. As the old adage says, ‘What you resist, persists’; we are destined to do whatever we condemn until we love and appreciate that behaviour or experience.
Nowadays when I’m accused of being like my mother, I remind myself to allow and own that trait, to find how it serves me and to defuse the charge I have on expressing it. As ever, I’m deeply grateful to Dr John Demartini for his Demartini Method that teaches one how to ‘equilibrate’ such charges.
Actually, I don’t need too many reminders of how like my mother I am; I have even mimicked some of her physical ailments, which of course means that I have taken on her model of the world and her beliefs in that area, since the mind and body reflect each other. It’s not just ‘genes’ that determine our physical tendencies; it’s adopting a parent’s view of the world and lifestyle that determines which ills we adopt because our attitudes literally switch our genes on and off. (Research the growing field of Epigenetics to find out more about that!)
You know what? I’m grateful that our world’s laws are so clear and ‘unviolable’ and reliable that we know where we stand. Imagine how horrific it would be to live in a world governed by chaos and randomness, where we didn’t know at any moment what would be the outcome of a particular action? At least, in this world, we know that every effect has a cause; that nothing happens out of the clear blue sky. We call in our experiences – they come into our world because they are resonating with us because of the thoughts and emotions we are entertaining. Nothing can come into our world without us calling it in and literally co-creating it. We can’t be the victims of anything at all.
If we’ve been privileged to study universal laws, we know that there is a Hidden Order at work, a principle known as the Law of Conservation, which tells us that nothing is ever missing, it’s always present although we might not be recognising its current form. And if what we resist persists, then that clearly points to a purpose to life, which is to love and appreciate and honour each of our many experiences so that they can flow into and out of our lives in a useful, harmonious way.
So yes, you are your mother and your father; you are every person you love and every person you hate. You are the cosmos with its stars and galaxies – you contain these vast spaces and all those chemical elements, and you are the tiniest microcosm as well – each tiny particle of your being is a busy mini-universe. As (I believe) the Oracle of Delphi said, 'Know who you are, be who you are, love who you are.'
If you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this topic, consider reading my 'personal development novels' for the whole family, The Mastery Club and The Hidden Order, or buying a copy of my collected articles, Living With Grace.