Dr. Maxim Goncharov, MD, PhD, psychotherapist, the holder of the World and European Certificate of Psychotherapy, an international master trainer for Positive and transcultural psychotherapy, member of director’s board of the World Association of Positive Psychotherapy.
Isn’t it an interesting question why do some people all the time experience life as very difficult thing and others do as relatively simple? Why some tend to make a lot more right choices in life meanwhile other do the opposite, they make more often wrong choice or not for their benefit. Is it always connected with luck or original well being? Indeed what is it connected with?
The cause of our failures often are so called life concepts, which indeed are the family concepts, and which in psychology or psychotherapy called as a basic concepts because they are planted into the basement of our life that is our childhood.
These concepts or in other words ingrained and deep-seated views to life transmitted to us by our parents or parental figures, teachers or other significant people by means of model as a life manual.
These concepts are the emotional and cognitive constructs that define the way we interpret our relationship to ourselves, to others and the environment. It's also a kind of beliefs in how the world operates and how to deal with it. In other words, it is psychological lenses through which we observe the reality and understand our attitude to it. Lets say, if mother teaches her daughter that she should not rely on man because all they want is just to use you or abuse. The daughter without having that bad experience would tend to defend and protect her self from relationship with a man. The picture given by the mother serve as a guidelines for the daughter now.
These concepts often serve as motives that guide our behavior, as assimilated norms and habits, which we focus on. So, it is not a surprise now that they have such big impact on our lives.
These concepts quite a long time may be not under our consciousness. We simply not aware of it. This is due to the fact that as children we have no other alternatives and take them for granted. They become noticeable to us just through the clash with the reality that differs from the usual, and where they cease to perform its function - to fulfill the emotional needs and to serve as a reliable guide. When we are kids, we do not have much choice in what is offered as a facts of life, we simply accept it.
Hence, perhaps it becomes more clear now that not everything that we passed through, would be helpful for us at all times. Time is changing. As they say, not all yogurts are same good as not all family concepts transmitted to us in childhood bring us the same benefits. Some of them are great help and facilitate our lives, while others turn it into a nightmare and create a strong potential for future conflicts and problems.
What does it depend on?
Fortunately not every family concept in the future will become a conflict. This is a good news. However, all conflicts are based on a certain concepts. Some concepts are potentially more conflictual than the others. For example, the concept of "happy life is possible just in case you have a high education" will be much narrower and potentially more conflictual than the concept of "Happiness is possible in any case." Not being able, for various reasons to pursue higher education, one will assume that he/she is doomed to unhappiness and the fact of lack of education will be his/her witness that he/she is unhappy. In order to make their lives happier, people will have to overcome a lot of doubts associated with their beliefs and judgements or better to say prejudgements.
The concepts are always built around certain values. And as you know, the values are not always universal but often determined by culture. In other words, what is valued in one culture may have absolutely no value in another. This is normal and natural. Now it may become clearer how much troubles we invent for ourselves and artificially create additional difficulties.
Here are some examples of other concepts:
«My children should live better than me»
«My child should live as good as I lived."
«My child should be better than me»
«God will punish you»
«All human beings are in essence - good»
«No one you should trust»
«You an trust just relatives
«Guests are just an expenses»
and so on.
Are we hostages of our concepts?
Fortunately it totally depends on us. Despite the fact that most of these concepts, we are not really aware of, time to time we are able to reconsider them and replace if necessary for new ones that are more recent and more functional. Awareness of our concepts gives us a great advantage - a choice. Before we begin to realize our concepts we have no choice. We simply believe that they are natural, even if they have already lost their function.
All our concepts should be time to time be reviewed. It is quite possible to do on our own. In case when it is not possible it is worth doing it with the help of a therapist. Thus, by reviewing our concepts and replacing them with more useful and functional ones we can feel ourselves as master of our life and organize it for the better. There is a good psychotherapeutic proverb saying: before you get married divorce your parents. This joke tells us that in order to create our own family culture, we should not blindly transfer everything that was regular in our family of origin. If both partners do that then there will be no space to create a new independent culture. Surely, it's better create something that is appropriate specifically for you and your partner.
The world is changing and we change with it. If we do not, then perhaps we will face the difficulties due to the mismatch of time.
Be a master of your life.