Thursday, February 07, 2008

Desperatedly Seeking Inner Autonomy

When children are told what to see, what to think, and what to feel, they become conditioned to suppress their own perceptions, thoughts and feelings. Their real self becomes more and more separated from their illusionary self -- I think the shrinks call that "personality disassociation"? The road to authentic seeing, thinking and feeling is long and hard, but there is a road. God can be a big help as long as we are willing to be absolutely honest. If we believe that our honesty would threaten God as it threatens the powerful people in our lives, our faith becomes a stumbling block rather than a channel of grace.

My grandmother's favourite non-violent correction was, "You make me sad!" This may have seemed enlightened when compared to abusive name-calling and hitting, but it took its toll. It is a heavy burden for a child to imagine that s/he is responsible for the emotions of others.

Adults are directly responsible for their own emotional states. Circumstances and other people can influence us, but they do not have the power to control what we think and feel. When I first heard that at a support group meeting, it seemed ludicrous. Even now, decades of struggle later, it seems an impossible challenge to master my own inner dialogue and the feelings that are generated by it.

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