I grew up believing that love is conditional. I don’t blame my parents for this – and it turns out it wasn’t true – but I genuinely thought my parents would only love me if:
- I made straight A’s
- I saved my virginity until marriage
- I attended church twice a week
- I didn’t cuss
- I respected my elders
- I came home by curfew
- I didn’t smoke, drink, or get stoned
- I didn’t get knocked up
- I ate my vegetables
And so on… rule after rule after rule.
Afraid they might withdraw their love if I ever broke a rule, I followed every single one of them religiously, to the exclusion of my own individuality and authenticity. I was the straight A, overachieving virgin who didn’t drink until she turned 21 and only broke curfew once in 18 years (by escaping via my bedroom window while wearing my nightgown and hopping in my friend’s car to go joyriding. Can you say “grounded”?)
My sister proved to me that the love of my parents wasn’t conditional the way I believed. She broke all the rules and they loved her anyway. But somehow, that belief that love is conditional became ingrained in my impressionable consciousness. I think it’s still there sometimes.
When I’m naughty with my mother (like I was here), am I really asking “Will you still love me if I’m naughty?” When I pick a fight with my husband – as I sometimes do – am I really asking “Will you still love me if I treat you poorly?” When I break a rule, am I testing the limits of love?
I think so.
In fact, I wonder if that’s the reason I post so many tell-all confessionals on Owning Pink (like this one… or this one.) Maybe I’m still living out my childhood wounds. I’m telling myself I don’t care what you think and I’m just being unapologetically ME. But maybe the truth is that I think there’s some line I might cross that will make the people I care about stop loving me.
As long as we’re unconscious of our childhood wounds, we are doomed to repeat them. But when we shine a bright, pink light on them, we can examine them to see if they are true. And if they aren’t – we can freely let them go.
Once I had the epiphany that part of me still believes this, I recognized that it’s really not true. I know there are at least a dozen people in this world who love me unconditionally – including my mother, my daughter, and my husband.
So I’ve decided to stop repeating behaviors that are triggered from my childhood wound.
I’ve been doing a lot of one-on-one work with Steve Sisgold, author of What’s Your Body Telling You? From him, I’ve learned to address old childhood wounds using a technique that goes something like this:
How To Release Childhood Wounds
- Identify the wound/limiting belief.
- Ask yourself whether it’s really true. (Hint hint: 99.9 percent of the time, it’s not.)
- Once you’ve recognized that your limiting belief is not true, release the wound/limiting belief. Try writing it on a sheet of paper and burning it. Or write it down, tear it up, and bury it in the earth.
- Now affirm that the opposite is true. (In my case, the affirmation is “I am loved unconditionally.”) Post this affirmation around your house. Paint it on your wall. Repeat it to yourself several times per day.
- Pay attention to sensations in your body when you affirm that the opposite is true. Is there clenching anywhere? Tightness? A dull ache? What is your body telling you?
- Try affirming the new belief again until your body feels nothing but peace.
- Notice when you act out from your childhood wound and instantly repeat your affirmation and feel it in your body.
What Works For You?
Do you have techniques for releasing your childhood wounds? Tell us your stories. Share your tips.