by Charles “Al” Huth
Once upon a time we were born, and everything was new. We focused on our need to sustain life. Our innate fears were falling and loud noises. We cried when we were hungry or uncomfortable. We reached out to our new environment for warmth, protection and connection, while being fascinated with our new surroundings.
As we grew and learned new, intriguing things, we developed a belief system regarding the nature of life that seemed real and protective. Much of what we learned was modeled in our environment by our family of origin. As young children, we identified ourselves as part of a family with similar thoughts and ideas. Our self-identity as an individual slowly developed as we grew older. However, these ingrained thoughts and behavior patterns influenced our lives into adulthood. Sometimes we learned that our behavior as a child was no longer appropriate as an adult, but not always. These tendencies learned in childhood remain in our behavior patterns and beliefs as an adult. When we face turmoil, the search for solutions and the absolute truth becomes more compelling. We wonder about inconsistencies between what we believe and our daily difficulties.
Psychologists have studied and detailed the stages of childhood development through adulthood. Some of these studies remain too tedious for non-professionals to fully grasp. However, it is known that when important parts of one’s childhood are missed, compensating for this loss as an adult can result in inappropriate behavior. When a stage of development is skipped, some would say that omission leaves a hole in one’s soul. As adults, we try to fill in this hole, but not always appropriately. The consequences can be devastating. As an example, a teenage girl who becomes a caretaker for her siblings has little time to engage in normal activities appropriate for her age. When a midlife crisis occurs, she will instinctively try to re-enact the missing part of her childhood – while her daughters may become embarrassed by her behavior.
We often make negative judgments about the behavior of others. We wonder what’s wrong with them and why they act so inappropriately. Let’s look at this phenomenon and see if this is a condition that many of us similarly share, albeit uniquely demonstrated. Do we have blind spots when looking at our own thoughts and behavior patterns? Have we unknowingly maintained inappropriate behaviors and beliefs which have been unchallenged since childhood?
If one is not aware of their own inappropriate behavior, there is a propensity to condemn others for their lack of awareness. Hopefully, our negative judgment of others will stimulate a re-evaluation of our own behavior. If anyone is bothered by another person’s behavior, it is a good idea to consider what is lying below one’s own awareness. It is impossible to walk in someone else’s shoes because they simply don’t fit. Therefore, perceived inappropriate behaviors by others should include a healthy dose of empathy, sympathy or compassion. Giving up on negative judgments can open the door of understanding that we have more in common with each other than previously thought.
This understanding can lead to more opportunities to love and appreciate ourselves, while creating more harmonious relationships within our world. It is an ideal way to connect and bond with others. Then the fog starts to lift – with the understanding that we are all in the same boat, though with different shapes, colors and purpose!