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Absolute Healing Blog

Meeting My Inner Tyrant

Posted in Clare's story on 28/03/2016

Meeting My Inner Tyrant


We find out how to get by in life when we are very small, we are taught an unspoken code of conduct by our parents and other significant people in our lives. We learn manners, we learn how to get noticed, we learn what is not acceptable; we get extra tuition through our life experiences on how we should behave, how to avoid the risk of getting knocked back, how to play by the game; and underneath it all we inherit the rules specific to our family, our class, our gender, our culture and our position in the family. Each of us finds a way to integrate all this into an individual, unconscious way of being.  

Of course it is quicker to receive these teachings from our elders than to learn everything through first-hand experience, and it must have been a major factor in our evolutionary development, but the system is not without its flaws. Firstly, we tend to absorb and integrate our parents’ code of conduct indiscriminately, out of context and sometimes in a form that is no longer appropriate. Secondly, the lessons that evoke fear in us tend to make the biggest impact and have a disproportionately strong influence on us later: the memory of a dangerous situation becomes hard-wired into our unconscious so that should we meet it again in the future it will instantly trigger a fight, flight or freeze response. This fear response, designed to keep us safe, is repeated faithfully and indiscriminately regardless of whether it actually serves us or whether it makes sense to us as we get older. training begins early. If, as toddlers, we behave in a way that is counter to our parents’ code of conduct, such as throwing a tantrum in a supermarket, they will (unless they are mindful) instinctively react with disapproval, anger, punishment and even rejection. This reaction frightens us - in our dependent years rejection could be very dangerous, leaving us unprotected, unfed and unloved -  so we receive a simple but very powerful lesson that it is not safe to get angry. This lesson will be far more influential than the countless times our parents have met our behavior with love and patience.   A sobering thought for present and future parents.


We receive many such lessons in our young years, most of them before we are seven, and they mould us. It is only as more conscious adults that we can begin to question and create a new code, congruent with our own values.  

My own personal code of conduct comes from parents who were strongly influenced by two world wars, boarding school, Baptist missionaries and generally tough times: a fearsome blend of fortitude, self-denial, frugality and unforgiving morals. My healing journey has involved exploring these influences, having compassionate understanding for my early teachers and beginning the slow process of reducing their effect on my way of being.

The person I have reflected on most is my maternal Grandfather who I adored when I was small. He survived the trenches when most of his peers did not, and I believe that he assuaged his guilt over this by being the best human being he could possibly be, and by all accounts he did pretty well. He was a quiet, kind and just man who had a way with animals and people and had immense forbearance despite chronic pain and disability, resulting from a shot-up leg and mustard gas damage to his lungs, throughout his adult life. I think that his children, in trying to live up to this impossibly high ideal, judged themselves wanting and attempted to overcome the parts of themselves that they deemed less acceptable. This judgement and stern control was learned by me while the kindness, patience and understanding that they also showed me were not taken on board as successfully. My code was that anger is unacceptable, weakness is to be overcome by self-denial and hard work and self-indulgence is not allowed. It developed in me a harsh inner critic who used to judge the worthiness of my every action and thought. It was a tough regime that I lived under for my first half century. It wore me down, made me miserable and it leaked out of me in a caustic intolerance of others who seemed less bound by a sense of duty.

During my training as a Journey practitioner I became starkly aware of my judge. I could hear the snide asides and damning comments aimed at me that contaminated every aspect of my life. I could not whole- heartedly receive love [if they really knew me they would see that I am not worthy], I could not be freely happy [do I deserve this?] and I could not rest [what should I be doing instead].

The realization that I had lived under such a despotic regime gave me some compassion for myself as a child and I felt angry that I had not felt able to fully enjoy the gifts of life. As part of my training I learned a life-changing technique to challenge my inner critic and over the years it has become much softer and, I hope, so have I. I am now aware of the value of meeting everyone with love and acceptance and I am clear that this does not mean that I have to agree with their values. I see this as healing work. Each time I meet a harsh critic, within myself or in another, with compassion and gentleness I am transforming it into something kinder.

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