By Dr. Paula Bloom
Spending time with people who have known you your entire life can be interesting. Recently I had the opportunity to be with family members I hadn’t seen since I was a kid. It was strange how well they knew me.
Our core personalities don’t really change. Some people say that by age 7 you are who you will always be. On the other hand, we all grow, mature and evolve.
They say you can never go home again. Part of what makes spending time with family stressful is that the idea our parents and siblings have about us is often stuck in time. They don’t see who we have become, only who they thought we were. ”He’s the irresponsible one,” “she’s the serious one,” “he’s the successful one.” What then happens is that all the responsible things the “irresponsible” one does go unnoticed while the actions that support the “title” get noticed. He can have kept a job for years, paid all his bills on time, taken care of his family but he makes one mistake and “well, he IS the irresponsible one.”
What is interesting is that it isn’t just others that get stuck in the past. How many of us have regressed when we are around our family? Families tend to like the status quo and it is natural for people to go back to old patterns (even if they aren’t positive). Dysfunction, while painful, is familiar. Familiar is comfortable.
Sometimes, family really does know us better than we know ourselves. As we grow into adults ,we can lose our way. What we liked to do as kids can serve as a good guide to what would make us happy today.
Did you like to play in nature for hours? Why not go on a hike?
Did you enjoy singing into your hairbrush and choreographing elaborate dance shows?When was the last time you sang into your hairbrush, where no one else could hear and dance as if no one was watching?
Did you speak your mind as a kid and call people out when they were lying? How bold are you now? Have you lost your voice? When you see injustice do you speak out?
Did you refuse to wear clothing or shoes that would restrict your ability to explore, play and move? Do your shoes and clothes allow you to feel free to explore, play and move today?
In college I walked around campus in Birkenstocks. I loved the feeling of being able to take my shoes off at any time and walk through the grass. Over the years I’d lost sight of the wonderful feeling of grass beneath my feet. Feeling the ground beneath your bare feet can really help you get grounded in your life.
A few years ago , before I even had this blog, I bought a pair of sandals that reminded me of my college sandals but felt more aligned with my current taste. When I wear my Mephisto’s(and yes, you can get them at FootSmart) I remember the importance of taking time to smell the roses and walk through the grass. Remembering who you were as a kid can be difficult. For better, and for worse, family members can help remind you.