By Beth Keil
A few weekends ago we moved our eldest son to college. During the process of gathering supplies I was once again struck how different it is being the parent this time around. As a parent, you have a history. Now this history can get in the way of acknowledging your child’s journey or it can be a source of understanding of both them and yourself. Our history has an impact on how we think, and therefore, what we feel. Some things that have happened can activate strong reactions in the present where they may not belong. Others instances are just that, a history, a recording of events.
Going through the process of being a college freshman from the parent’s point of view has given me the opportunity to look at what my perceptions were when I left home and an opportunity to heal wounds I’d forgotten about. For me, my children have been the major catalyst for healing wounds that might otherwise go unexamined.
I chose a college that was hours away from home. I looked forward to leaving home and being on my own. I was also keenly aware that once I left things would never be the same when I’d come back. Not that I had the words back then, but I would no longer be a child, but a young adult. This shift in our relationship was never discussed. I don’t think my mom and step-father ever considered what was happening or thought to talk about it, but when a person in a relationship changes, the relationship changes.
When clients come to see me for hypnosis, something in their lives isn’t working and they’re frustrated. They’re looking for change in themselves—in the way they think, feel, and behave. What they may have not considered is their change is going to impact those around them, particularly those in their immediate circle of friends or family. Imagine a couple dancing together, doing the Cha-Cha. If one person changes their dance steps the other person will, (a) step on their feet, (b) with advanced notice, knowledge, and agreement, change their dance steps, (c) the other person has no desire to change the dance and quits dancing, or (d) the other person has no desire to change the dance and tries to keep the same dance going. If one’s dance partner chooses A or B, there’s still a conversation to be had. If C or D is chosen, the person changing the dance steps now has to decide what they’re going to do because this change isn’t being supported. They may even feel angry because of the lack of support. Harriet Lerner, in her book, The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships”, explores this dance and I highly recommend reading it (the link to the book will give you the opportunity to look at the table of contents and read the beginning pages of the book).
So, are the dances in your life supporting the life you desire? Do they align with the steps you need to take to create change and sustain what you create or do your toes keep getting stepped on?
If your answer is “no”, first ask yourself if what you say you want you really want. We can want many things but in order to create change you need to be ready to put into action what needs to be done. It takes commitment and follow through. At times it takes courage. Change usually means loss of some sort. What do you imagine that might be for you? What do you imagine you’ll gain? In either case, are you ready for a different dance?
Take a moment to look at one of the dances you’re doing. Like the Cha-Cha, how do you go back and forth in making yourself and your needs known? Ask yourself what keeps you in this dance pattern? Usually it is fear, fear of the unknown, not being liked (especially for women), and/or abandoned. Ask yourself in an objective way if what you fear is real.
Looking at your dance card may help you learn if something in your past has you react to the present situation as if you were still a young child without the resources and understanding you have now as a grownup (the 5-PATH® system of hypnosis is a great process for clearing your past from your future!).
As for my son, I’m choosing option (b) with advanced notice, knowledge, and agreement, change (my) dance steps. We have the opportunity to develop a new relationship, one that I may accidently step on his toes once in awhile. But I’m willing to learn this new dance of ours.
Beth J. Keil is a registered nurse, nationally certified hypnotist, certified 7th Path tm instructor and HypnoBirthing-The Mongan Method tm Certified Educator and co- founder of Delaware Hypnosis Partners, LLC. Beth holds her Bachelor of Science degrees from The Pennsylvania State University in Individual and Family Studies and The University of Delaware in Nursing. She is certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists with her advanced hypnosis certification through The Banyan Hypnosis Center and has training in hypnosis for pain management from Health Visions Hypnosis.