Consider that at some point in your life, you made a decision that was something to the affect of: “I will not be like my mother. She’s manipulative and controlling.” or “I’m going to be just like my mother when I grow up. She’s self-assured and unafraid to stand up for herself.” And those are just statements about your maternal parent! The same thing happens with the father in a two-parent home. A person will decide to be like his father, or not like his father. Do you see the irony in this?
If you made a decision to be just like your mother, then your words, actions, and emotions are given to you by “being your mother.” If you made a decision to not be like your mother, then your words, actions, and emotions are given to you by “not being your mother.” I’m certain now that the irony wasn’t lost on you. You can plainly see that regardless of which path you chose, your words, actions, and emotions are given to you by your mother. I would never presuppose that all of your actions, words, or emotions are given to you by “being your mother” or by “not being your mother.” There are a variety of other sources whom you may have copied along the way because you liked who you saw them being.
The same is true of your father. You made a conscious decision (although it may be buried in the subconscious for some) to be “like your father” or to “not be like your father.” Therefore, the personality of your adolescent and teen years were shaped and blended by you:
a) being your mother OR not being your mother
b) being your father OR not being your father.
Isn’t that great news?!!?
Ok, I can hear imaginary groans from some readers at that last remark. However, I do think it is good news and here’s why:
We human beings have the unique power to choose our attitudes, our emotions, our speech, our actions, and our personalities, just like we have the power to put on clothes. I know that may sound simplistic but I use that analogy because it conveys an ease to it rather than struggle. And our lives do not have to be about struggle! Along our lives’ paths, we have picked personality traits that we saw and liked in others and we said to ourselves, “I’m going to be like that.” Or, we saw personality traits in others that we had an extreme dislike for and we said, “I’m not going to be like that.”
Although we all came “pre-programmed” with a basic personality, we shaped and molded what we had been given to be the outward representation of who we are (and how we feel about ourselves) on the inside. So why is that good news? It’s good news because, if you chose to be a certain way, you can now choose to put aside that same way of being if it no longer works for you. As we grow in knowledge and skills, we find that we no longer need to have certain ways of being that we previously chose for ourselves – possibly as coping mechanisms. Regardless of the reason, once you see that you have a personality trait that isn’t producing the results that you desire in your life (or that’s getting in the way of you getting those results), you can choose to set that personality trait aside, just as easily as you initially chose to pick it up and put it on.
That’s not to say that you’ll never have to deal with that personality trait again. We have learned patterns or ways of being that are deeply engrained. Therefore, once we decide to make a change, it will take several days of working in the newly desired trait before it is engrained on top of the old one, essentially taking the previous trait's place. So, until that happens, you have a choice in every situation where that old pattern starts to show up. You can give way to the old trait or you can choose to only allow the new behavior. Whatever you choose, know that it is your choice and your actions, behavior, and speech are not given to you by another – but they are only given by you.
Now that’s empowerment!