Do your thoughts sometimes echo eerily like Mom or Dad?  But in the worst possible way?  Do they tell you how you’re wrong, broken, and just need to be like them?  Do they tell you flat-out that you haven’t experienced the things you say you have causing you to question your version of reality?  Do they negate and ignore your accomplishments or credit someone else, as in thank goodness you had that person to save you?  Do they have all the answers, explain just how simple life really is and they can’t understand why you choose to make it so difficult?

I’d speculate that if you’re reading this, you are aware, at least to some extent, of the abuses and neglect you’ve been subjected to.  Perhaps you’re at the beginning of your healing journey, somewhere in the middle or feel you’ve dealt with all the mommy and/or daddy issues long ago.  So, here’s the kicker… you’ve made so much progress eradicating those voices from your head; perhaps you’ve gained much needed distance from the family they belong to.  So why is it that sometimes you still hear those same messages from others in your life?  And what can you do about it?

There are a couple reasons you may still find yourself communing with people imparting the same distorted wisdom as Mom or Dad.  First, we tend to gravitate to the familiar.  As social animals, it’s a built-in safety feature to keep us in groups where we belong and will be protected.  When we’re born into groups that harm us, this built in feature quickly becomes a hang up.  Just be aware of it and be sure you’re in relationships with people who are truly supportive and not with people simply because they feel familiar. 

Then there are times beyond our control when these people parroting our parents are in our lives.  Other family members, co-workers, bosses, your child’s teacher, etc.  It happens.  It’s important to know you have some control over these interactions.  It’s also important to be sure about when and how much control to exert.

Consider the extent and how often the person graces you with their supreme omniscience.  Is it of a level that you can get through with a deep breath and a shake of the head?  It may be that you need to remove this person from your life entirely.  It may be that you need to distance yourself in time and/or space and limit contact.  No matter how little contact you maintain, if you choose to keep this person in your life, it is imperative to be your authentic self, unwaveringly not allowing yourself to become triggered or retraumatized.  

Ways to Be when you are being talked to in ways that sound a bit too much like the ghosts in your head:

  • Have an internal pep rally when you know you’ll be in contact with a potentially triggering person. Remind yourself of your boundaries, strengths, accomplishments and really feel them, empowering yourself with who you are.
  • When relevant, focus on the person’s intention rather than their poor choice of words. Sometimes loving, well-meaning people will say the most awful and cruel things.  If you know that to be the case, internalize their intention and allow that to lift you up, which is, after all, how they are hoping to help.
  • Calming and incessantly remind them of your boundaries. Don’t get caught up in defending yourself.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  If they are not happy about your answer/decision, that’s on them, not you.
  • Recognize when you are being triggered and may be experiencing an Implicit Flashback. Do not respond to the person or make any decisions from that mindset.  Remove yourself ASAP and work on resetting your system.  Breath, meditate, do yoga, whatever works for you.