When I interviewed Toni Brodelle for The Confident Mother, she shared two questions that you can ask that help you to understand how your emotional blueprint has been shaped. Before you read these questions, I encourage you to answer instinctively. Write down the first thought that pops into your head.
When you were younger, whose love did you crave the most?
In order to experience or have that love, what did you have to do and who did you have to be?
Love in this context could be respect, praise, appreciation, time … love comes in many forms. For me, the answer to the first question was My Dad and the second question I needed to be clever. What about you? When Toni asked these questions, it was a lightbulb moment for me. She explained how as a child, what you are praised for helps shape your emotional roadmap. As children, we want the attention (the time and the love) of our parents. If you get that attention by being clever, you want to carry on doing it. If you get that attention by being sick, you carry on being sick.
As Toni so rightly commented As human beings our only real emotional need is to be loved. Every fear that we have boils down to, “I’m not enough and I think if I’m not enough, I won’t be loved.’ From very early on, our emotional blueprint is shaped around how we get love.
As a child, I was often told that I was clever. And I was. What I have now realised is that I had learned that in order to be loved, I needed to be clever. In order to be clever, I had to work hard and not make any mistakes. This hard work ethic has persisted throughout my adult life. Therefore work that comes easily to me, the effortless effort, I have not valued because it hasn’t required me to work hard. If I’m not working hard, I’m not being clever. If I’m not being clever, I’m not loved. I’m not worthy of love.
Do you see how sometimes the emotional blueprint that is shaped in us as a child, does not always serve us well.
So whose love did you crave as a child? What did you do to have that love? What are you still doing to receive that love?