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How To Overcome A Difficult Childhood - Vienna Pharaon

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How To Overcome A Difficult Childhood - Vienna Pharaon

The Unresolved Past (00:00:00)

  • Unresolved childhood experiences can manifest as unwanted patterns in adulthood.
  • The family of origin, including significant individuals who contribute to a person's upbringing, plays a crucial role in shaping their beliefs and behaviors.
  • Family systems encompass not only blood-related individuals but also those who significantly influence a person's development.
  • The formative years within a family system shape a person's understanding of their place in the world, their sense of worth, belonging, and trust.
  • Family systems can have both positive and controlling aspects, influencing a person's beliefs, behaviors, and relationships.
  • The speaker discusses the concept of "Five Wounds" that humans experience: worthiness, belonging, prioritization, trust, and safety.
  • These wounds are shaped by our interactions with others, particularly during childhood and adolescence, and can impact our perception of the world and ourselves.

Why We Resist Opening Up About Our Past (00:06:23)

  • Overcoming a difficult childhood involves acknowledging and honoring our past experiences without minimizing or comparing them to others.
  • Trauma is not limited to major events but can also include subtle moments that shape our beliefs and behaviors.
  • It's important to recognize and acknowledge the impact of all our experiences, big and small, on our lives, as they can have significant effects on our self-perception and relationships.
  • Embracing and understanding our past can help us move forward and heal from the challenges we faced.

The Bravery of Confronting Your Mistakes (00:11:22)

  • Disempowering memories from the past can shape how we move forward.
  • Acknowledging the impact of past experiences is courageous, not disempowering.
  • Facing up to the small and petty things from the past requires humility.
  • Childhood experiences and stories shape who we become.
  • Our gifts and wounds are closely connected.
  • Healing does not mean losing our edge or becoming soft.
  • Protecting and defending our childhood and parents can be a strange impulse.

Vienna’s Most Common Clientele (00:14:53)

  • Vienna's clients typically come to her with communication problems or heightened conflict in their relationships.
  • They may be dealing with infidelity, difficult in-laws, or challenges in family planning.
  • Some clients seek help because they keep pursuing the same types of people in romantic relationships.
  • Vienna believes that understanding one's family of origin is crucial for personal growth and healing.
  • By examining the past and family dynamics, individuals can gain insights into their current behaviors and patterns.
  • Overlooking the family of origin can result in missing important information that hinders progress in therapy.
  • Vienna emphasizes the need to look at the family system, experiences, and how they shape an individual's present relationships.

Reluctance to Being Up Issues With Parents (00:17:19)

  • Addressing childhood issues can be challenging, especially if parents are older or haven't done their own self-work, but it's crucial to avoid staying stuck in destructive patterns.
  • Involving parents in the process isn't always necessary and can be protective for them.
  • Childhood experiences can impact relationships with parents, even if they're deceased, and it's important to find a compassionate way to address them.
  • Viewing one's mother as their grandmother's daughter can provide a different perspective and shift the relationship.
  • Everyone comes from an imperfect family system and has faced challenges, so it's important to maintain compassion and complexity while addressing difficult emotions.
  • The goal is to honor one's story without necessarily destroying relationships or excusing harmful behavior.

How Often You Need to Speak to People From Your Past (00:22:41)

  • It is not necessary to frequently speak to people from your past to deal with patterns from a difficult childhood.
  • Many people find that their parents are defensive or unable to acknowledge their pain, which can be frustrating.
  • Healing can occur through being witnessed by someone who can understand and acknowledge your experiences, even if it is not the person who caused the pain.
  • Having someone who loves, trusts, and values you witness your experiences can be powerful and healing.
  • It can provide validation and help you release the need to control the dynamic.
  • It can also help you trust your own assessment of your experiences and feel less alone.
  • For only children who did not have siblings or other adults in the home to provide support, this validation can be especially important.

What If You Don’t Remember Much of Childhood? (00:27:03)

  • Team child will always lose because you don't know how the world works and you outsource your sense-making to others.
  • Some people don't have many childhood memories, which can make it difficult to understand how their past experiences have shaped them.
  • It's important to remember that sometimes we can't access memories because they are too much for our system to handle.
  • If you can't go back to the first time your worth and belonging were ruptured, go to the last time you can connect to an experience that changed how you related to these things.
  • We don't need memories all the time, our bodies hold a lot of information.
  • Tuning into what we're noticing inside our bodies can be helpful when we're talking about our past.

Convincing Men to Be Vulnerable (00:30:44)

  • Some men may feel disempowered or vulnerable when addressing their past.
  • A clear and direct message about the importance of addressing past trauma can invite men to at least consider the journey.
  • Addressing past trauma is not about entering into weakness, but rather entering into one's power.
  • When past experiences dictate one's actions and reactions, one is not truly in control of their life.
  • The invitation is to take control and run the show by doing the necessary work to address past trauma.
  • Positioning the work as half challenge and half performance enhancer can be an effective marketing angle to get men on board.

What Do We Outsource Our Worth to? (00:33:23)

  • Our sense of worthiness can be conditional, based on our ability to perform, please others, or achieve certain standards.
  • Statements of harm, such as verbal abuse, can impact our sense of worthiness.
  • Over-performers often feel that their worth and value come from what they can offer in return, such as subjugating their desires or achieving success.
  • There is a correlation between the things we are most proud of and the things we are most ashamed of.
  • We often expect the world to love us for who we are, but we struggle to love ourselves for who we are, leading to self-criticism and low self-esteem.
  • The worthiness wound is a common experience that affects many people at some point in their lives.

Feeling a Sense of Authentic Belonging (00:37:55)

  • Gabor Mate discusses the importance of attachment and authenticity in childhood.
  • When attachment is threatened, children will often trade authenticity for it.
  • This can lead to a sense of inauthenticity and a lack of belonging in adulthood.
  • The need for belonging can reappear in adulthood, even if someone was a rebel in their teenage years.
  • Taking a path of adaptation, rejection, repetition, or opposition can all lead to a lack of integration and difficulty forming close relationships.
  • Reparative and resolution work is necessary to integrate and move forward in a way that allows for connection, closeness, and intimacy in relationships.

Why You Don’t Feel Like a Priority to Others (00:42:30)

  • Feeling unimportant to important people in your life is a prioritization wound.
  • Examples of situations that can cause a prioritization wound:
    • A workaholic parent.
    • A sibling with a mental health challenge that demands a lot of parental attention.
  • It is possible to have a prioritization wound even when parents are trying their best.
  • It is important to acknowledge and name the wound rather than dismiss it.
  • People with a prioritization wound may:
    • Choose partners who also de-prioritize them.
    • Prioritize everyone else at the expense of themselves.
    • De-prioritize people in their lives as an unconscious attempt to make them understand what it was like for them growing up.

How to Heal the Wound of Safety (00:45:20)

  • Childhood abuse can lead to hypervigilance and scanning behavior in adulthood, affecting relationships and emotional well-being.
  • Curiosity, rather than shame or guilt, can help individuals understand and address unwanted behaviors.
  • Compassion, accountability, and responsibility are crucial in understanding past behaviors and avoiding destructive patterns.
  • Asking "what is this behavior trying to protect me from?" can uncover the root causes of actions and promote healing.
  • Childhood experiences shape how individuals relate to the world and others, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging and understanding their impact.
  • Safety, trust, and overcoming trust ruptures are essential in relationships.
  • Identifying and naming internalized wounds from childhood experiences can facilitate healing and healthier relationships.
  • Seeking support from professionals or trusted individuals can be beneficial in overcoming the effects of a difficult childhood.

Uncomfortable Questions to Ask Yourself (00:55:20)

  • Asking uncomfortable questions can help gain self-awareness.
  • Some examples of uncomfortable questions to ask oneself:
    • What is something you wanted or needed as a child and didn't get?
    • What is the part of yourself that you hate or find undesirable, and how is it trying to protect you?
    • Where are you most reactive in your life and with whom?
  • Many people have an internal dialogue that is quite vicious and abusive.
  • Offering oneself compassion is important for healing and growth.
  • Compassion does not mean excusing behavior, but rather bringing a sense of understanding and kindness to the process of self-improvement.
  • Self-criticism can be a potent fuel, but it is toxic and will not lead to lasting healing.

What Does Origin Healing Look Like? (00:59:06)

  • Origin healing involves acknowledging, witnessing, and grieving the wounds from a difficult childhood to move forward from those experiences.
  • Pain persists when it remains unacknowledged and unaddressed.
  • Witnessing involves observing and understanding one's own experiences, often with the help of trusted individuals, and can manifest in various ways, including tears or other forms of emotional release.
  • Grieving allows for the processing and release of emotional pain.
  • By acknowledging, witnessing, and grieving, individuals can heal and create a space within themselves to shift from a state of survival to a place of choice and mindful decision-making.

Fixing Conflict, Communication & Boundaries (01:06:14)

  • Conflict, communication, and boundaries are areas where people often struggle.
  • Understanding one's own behavior and motivations can help in identifying areas for improvement.
  • Shifting from self-protection to relational protection is crucial for healthier relationships.
  • Relational protection involves caring about the experience of others while also protecting oneself.
  • When both parties in a relationship are working on relational protection, it creates a space for compassionate choices and healthier communication.
  • Setting boundaries involves honoring the relationship without sacrificing one's own needs.

A Healthy Use of Boundaries (01:08:56)

  • Boundaries can be porous, healthy, or rigid.
  • Porous boundaries prioritize connecting with others over protecting oneself.
  • Healthy boundaries balance protecting oneself and connecting with others.
  • Rigid boundaries prioritize protecting oneself over connecting with others.
  • Rigid boundaries can be a result of past experiences of being taken advantage of or feeling emotionally drained.
  • People with rigid boundaries may have difficulty maintaining close relationships or feeling emotionally connected to others.
  • Trading disconnection for safety can be appealing, but it maintains disconnection and prevents growth.
  • Taking risks and using discernment are necessary for healing and building healthy relationships.
  • Origin healing practice allows for more access to discernment and helps individuals make informed decisions about who to trust and connect with.

Can We Actually Correct Our Programming? (01:13:42)

  • The speaker acknowledges that some people may be skeptical about the effectiveness of unwinding their childhood programming.
  • They emphasize that the process is not about achieving perfection but making small, gradual changes.
  • The speaker shares an example of a client who made progress by exiting a relationship sooner than she had in the past.
  • They highlight the importance of noticing and observing patterns of behavior rather than expecting immediate perfection.
  • The speaker encourages people to lower their expectations and focus on making tiny, consistent changes.
  • They suggest practicing new behaviors repeatedly and seeking opportunities to practice with others.
  • The speaker emphasizes the role of compassion, grace, accountability, and ownership in making changes stick.

Giving Yourself More Compassion (01:18:07)

  • Understand why you lack self-compassion and what purpose it serves.
  • Pushing away self-compassion may be protecting you from something.
  • Forcing self-compassion may not be effective.

Where to Find Vienna (01:19:20)

  • Vienna's book, "The Origins of You: How Breaking Family Patterns Can Liberate the Way We Live and Love," is available wherever books are sold.
  • Find Vienna on Instagram at @mindfulmft.
  • Visit her website at newyorkcouplescounseling.com.
  • All links can be found in the link in her Instagram bio.

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