Communication is vital for our survival. About 80% of communication is nonverbal if dad doesn't drop everything and run to the child, the child may feel that dad is communicating rejection. If the bridegroom acts cocky and indifferent, the bride may "up the ante" and make sure she's not showing that she cares about him, either.
About 20% of communication is verbal. In a dysfunctional family, most of that communication is not healthy. The 4 major kinds of unhealthy verbal communication are:
1. Implied: this type of communication is confusing, because what I say doesn't mean anything it's what I imply that means something. Someone may ask you to come upstairs to their bedroom so you can see the paintings the implied message is to come up for something other than the paintings.
The dad may tell his teenage son that he can take the car out, but if he hurts the car, dad will break his neck. The son might hear that the car is more valuable than he is, and will then probably also believe he's worthless, not loveable, etc. There is no way of verifying these messages in a dysfunctional family and they may become lethal.
2. Mystic: this type of message dabbles with things that aren't true. If a child asks where he came from, the dad may say, "The stork dropped you off" or, "From the cabbage patch." We use this type of communication to hide our own fears. If you were to ask me, "Do you love me?" I might try to dazzle you with, "More than the moon in the sky," etc. There is no direct answer.
3. Assumed: this type of communication is like crystal ball gazing and mind reading. You are afraid that I can't give you a direct answer, so you assume something. You might assume that I don't love you and then you can't crawl out of the hole you dig because you have assumed something that's not true, and you have never learned how to communicate in a healthy way.
If you can predict behavior, you might feel like you can read minds. If a guy comes home from a terrible day at work, raising all kinds of commotion, each kid he has will probably go into a nonverbal communication mode and assume dad found out what he/she did the night before and that dad is really mad at just him/her. Or, the husband may come home and the wife is in the kitchen banging pots and pans. He assumes she's mad at him for some reason and if they don't know how to communicate in a healthy manner, they could end up in divorce court because they both started assuming things that weren't true.
4. Double-bind: in this type of communication, no matter what your answer might be, it's "wrong" in the other person's eyes. The male will typically set up the question so the woman could mean no or yes, depending upon how the male feels. He may want some time alone, so he might ask her if she is going out. She says no. He gets upset because she won't go out. She realizes that he's upset, so tells him that she thought about it and decided to go out. Then he gets even more upset because she is going out without him and may tell her that he knows she enjoys going out without him! Whatever she answers, it will probably not be the "right" answer for him. Of course, by this time, he has forgotten that the only reason this whole thing got started is because he just wanted some time alone and he did not how to express it verbally, in a healthy manner. This is a "can't win for losing" scenario and a wimpy "no" will usually mean "yes" in this type of communication.
In a relationship you have CHOICES: you can be LONELY or you can be INTIMATE (done with your clothes on). If you are lonely in the relationship, you will probably use booze, pot, sex, food, work, etc., to seek intimacy. If you make up your mind to be intimate, you still won't be able to be intimate. The only way to be intimate is to share your hopes, fears, dreams, inadequacies, etc. (again, done with your clothes on). Since non-functional communication is handed down in families, you probably have no idea how to talk about "those things." You may have a tremendous need to be heard, but you don't know how to communicate what you feel, think, hope, dream you can't say "it" because you might get hurt. So you will learn how to finish a sentence for someone, be sarcastic, try to mind read, etc. and you will be unable to communicate.
The implied and double-bind messages are the most confusing types of unhealthy communication and can become lethal. You can think one thing and feel something else. Unless you can communicate with someone who cares about you, you can drive your "self" nuts. You may THINK that you are about the correct weight, but you will FEEL like you are too fat so you diet too much, and could possibly become anorexic. You may THINK that you are pretty smart, but you FEEL stupid. If you don't feel smart enough, sexy enough, talented enough, etc., you can be manipulated. Kids may communicate by acting cocky but their eyes will probably look really sad. This stuff can make or keep a person dysfunctional.
Usually when you can actually communicate with reality (your feelings, etc.), you will start to feel better. If you say something like, "I think a cement truck ran over me," you are using the mystic type of communication. In reality, it would be more healthy if you could say, "I feel scared," or "I feel sad," etc.
Once you can learn how to communicate your hopes and dreams to another person, and if you can trust and feel close enough to this other person, you can also talk about fears and inadequacies. If you can't talk about them, you will probably try to manipulate the other person. (A salesman won't be able to sell you deodorant if he can't make you believe you stink.) You do need to communicate your feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, inadequacies, etc., to be able to have a close relationship with another person.
If you try to communicate because you are feeling lonely, the other person may try to control or manipulate you by NONVERBALLY telling you that he/she might reject you. If you get that nonverbal communication, you will probably "tow the line" for fear of being alone. But once you can have a real conversation about your feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, etc., and get things out in the open, no one will be able to manipulate you.
A male may be in a relationship with a female who wants to go to college. He may feel like he's "not man enough" for "his woman" to go to college and make something of herself. He will probably try to trigger her inadequacy or fear of being stupid by laughing and saying, "What! Are you actually going to try to go to college???" And then add something like, "It's going to be too much money you'll go for a year or two and then quit!"
She may start feeling worthless and not even try to go to college or she may get angry and try to "stuff" her feelings. In the latter scenario, the situation can turn into a vicious "game" called "rape-o," with her trying to get revenge. How does she get revenge? "I'm not going to cook your dinner," or, "I have a headache," (which will last for many days). If they start playing this brutal game, and if the man feels really inadequate, he may come back with, "You're just like your mother and you know what a witch she was!!!" She may retort, "Well, you are worse than your father could ever have been!!!" (And he might feel ashamed of his father who died in jail after serving a long time for armed robbery.) This malicious "game" may continue to get worse and worse, each person "one-upping" the other person and can turn into domestic violence and/or end in divorce and/or it could even become lethal very fast.
A man is usually afraid to communicate his feelings, etc., because he thinks perhaps a woman may just rip his guts out. He might think that if he "lets her in," then he will end up like the guy with his camel in the desert: the sandstorm is coming, the guy is in his tent, the camel acts as if he just wants to put his nose in the tent then suddenly, the camel is in the tent and the guy is out in the sandstorm getting sandblasted.
If you are the wife of an alcoholic and you put all your energy into the kids, you probably won't have the energy or the courage to confront the drinking, i.e., "You drink too darn much!" You might start playing games to try to show your dissatisfaction. You may put him on a budget, hide the whiskey, water the whiskey down, avoid social situations, join a church even go so far as to call up the bar. If you do call, the bartender will probably tell you that he is not at the bar and you'll tell the bartender to tell him to come home, dinner's ready. Then when he shows up, you'll ask him where he was and he will probably say he was at the library, etc.
If you made an early childhood decision that you are worthless and during an argument the other person says to you that you are not even worth arguing with, that you are not worth having a relationship with and that you're a real idiot, the relationship can be destroyed very rapidly. If either person in the relationship is a passive-aggressive personality, things can become very unhealthy very quick. If both of you are passive-aggressive, each of you is trying to control, or substitute control for passion and you will go through life trying to control "it" which can become very boring and very frustrating and "it" may be very trivial.
The passive-aggressive person will probably tell you that he/she won't talk to you forever and two years beyond that not even in the afterlife! If you're also passive-aggressive, you'll probably say, "I won't talk to you, either!" It gets worse if you both think you have to stay married because "divorce equates to failure." Some people may be so controlling that they actually won't talk to the other person for months even years!
If one person is extremely passive-aggressive there probably won't be any passion in the marriage, just control. A passive person just ignores you. The passive-aggressive person stares into your eyeballs AND ignores you. When a male passive-aggressive personality goes to the bathroom, he will probably leave the toilet seat up just because you've asked him to be sure to put it back down when he's done. He may play the stereo or TV really loud. If you ask him to quit, the noise is driving you crazy, he will look really innocent and say, "What?" He may turn the volume down for a little while and then later he will most likely turn the volume up even louder than it was before.
THE WAY OUT
To be functional, you need to verify messages and you need to be an adult and be in the adult ego state. True communication needs a receiver as well as a sender. Most people who are dysfunctional try to communicate from either the parent or the child ego states.
The parental ego state dictates: "I should, you should, we should." This person is usually a perfectionist, trying to hold everything together and trying to make everything right. The parent says this is the way it should be and there is no compromise. This person will probably also be wagging a finger in your face while telling you how it is going to be.
The child ego state is self-centered. This is normal for an alcoholic/addict. The "child" may wait for you to crawl to him/her and then perhaps "pat you on the head." If the person is a male and a "rebel," he will probably be waiting for you to shut up so he can "cream you" for what he perceives that you just said and/or did. The child ego state is usually very emotional and very unpredictable.
The adult ego state is willing to hear you and listen to what you say. This person won't try to "cream you," etc.
If you get stuck in either the parental or child ego state, you will not be able to communicate in a healthy manner.
Parent -------to------- Parent
"You should, we should..." what's good for me may not be good for you|
Child -------to------- Child
Throws tantrums, wants to have their own way|
Parent -------to------- Child
Can get lethal. The more parental you get, the more rebellious the other person gets. The more control you get, the more control the other person tries to get, etc. Control is a substitute for passion and the love of life.|
Adult -------to------- Adult
"I hear you saying that you don't want me to go to college why is that?" This person tries to stay calm, listens and attempts to understand and clarify what the other person is saying then tries to respond in a healthy manner.
When you are trying to learn how to communicate, it may feel artificial, structured, even phony. You may have had a lifetime of dysfunctional communication, so when you begin to learn how to communicate with a person you are close to (or want to be close to), both of you need to begin each sentence with, "I want you to know..."
The man may tell his wife, "I want you to know I love you dearly AND (not BUT) I don't like the underwear you buy for me. They are about three sizes too small and I think that's why I am getting headaches."
THE REASON "BUT" IS NOT USED IS BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE WILL FORGET WHAT YOU JUST SAID, OR WILL DISMISS WHAT YOU SAID AT FIRST, AND ONLY HEAR WHAT YOU SAY AFTER THE WORD "BUT."
I can state anything to you if I say, "I want you to know..." at the beginning of the sentence so I can clarify what I'm trying to tell you AND stay in the adult ego state. The male may say, "Please don't take this wrong, and it's not a criticism I just want you to know that I don't like liver casserole." The female might reply, "I want you to know that I thought you loved it!" The illusion of power is that the male would hurt her feelings if he told her that he hated the casserole. The male may answer, "I was afraid I'd hurt your feelings and I didn't want to hurt them because I love you!" She might reply, "I want you to know that I love you, too, and I only made that liver casserole because I thought you loved it I hate it too!" Then they might both start laughing at the misunderstandings!
You can start with the "small stuff," the little pet peeves like the toothpaste tube not being rolled up, the toilet seat being left up, etc. You could say, "I want you to know that it hurts me (my belief system) when you throw away a tube of toothpaste that is half-full when it could be emptied if it was rolled up. My mom taught us to not waste anything." Or, you may have the belief system that tells you that you are not supposed to feel hurt or be scared, sad, angry, etc. The male could say, "I want you to know that I'm afraid that you'll meet a man at that college and like him better than me." Try to stay in the adult ego state.
Yes, you have to be careful. Something you share could be turned against you and used against you. Practice on small stuff. Leave the frightening stuff for later lower the "wall" a little at a time until you find your trust level with the other person. Also, you want to avoid gossip. Gossip usually has a target, i.e., money, career, identified patient in the family, etc.
About 90% of marital and family therapy is teaching communication skills. A child may say, "Dad, I want you to know I was hurt because you didn't go to my ball game." Talking about, or verbalizing, your feelings is healthy communication. Unhealthy communication includes running away, acting out, suicide, etc. People normally don't feel threatened by, "I want you to know...," or, "I want to talk to you, I'd like you to know...."
Sometimes you may have a pent-up, tremendous desire to tell a person something, and that person may not be ready to hear it. You need to have some common sense and be able to make a judgement call. You may tell someone that you want them to know that you have something fairly important to say. The other person may say, "I want you to know that I'm not ready to talk with you right now, so please don't dump it on me." Both people have to be ready to communicate and sometimes it will take some compromise. You might have to say that it's okay if the other person doesn't want to talk right now, and then suggest, "When is a good time for us to talk? Maybe about 2:00 this afternoon?"
When you feel very angry and someone wants to talk with you, it is more healthy to say, "I want you to know that I love you dearly AND (not BUT) I'm really angry right now. I will take responsibility for my anger, I just wanted you to know that I am angry about something and that's why I need to be left alone right now." If you don't say something about your anger, the other person might get an implied message like you weren't interested in what they had to say, you don't love them or you're angry with them, etc. They may say to you, "I want you to know that I'm feeling rejected right now and I'll take responsibility for that."
You might tell someone you love that you don't really want to go "out on the town" when that person asks you to go to the opera so the person may assume that you don't want to go out with or perhaps even be seen with him/her. Instead of just saying that you don't want to go out, you could say, "I want you to know I love you AND I just hate the opera. I'd rather stay here, pop some popcorn, watch a good movie and snuggle with you."
When there is no relationship (being intimate, done with clothes on), you will most likely become lonely and both of you will probably become lonely. You may try to create the illusion of safety and/or you may stay logical and by doing so, you will not share your needs, wants, fantasies, etc., with another person. This is particularly true of the teenager in the family and they really need to share because they are particularly vulnerable to manipulation by their peers to drink, do drugs, have sex, etc.
"I want you to know....." can be pretty intense, but it's almost impossible to fight. If you find yourself in an unhealthy argument, you might say something like, "I want you to know that I don't want to play this game any more. I want to stop arguing and try to understand why we are hurting one another by name calling and blaming each other." Don't get into the "heavy" stuff immediately. Small stuff first, then gradually build up enough confidence to finally get into that heavy stuff. Most people had to learn how to crawl, then walk and then finally become confident enough with the ability to walk so they could run. It is unusual, but there are rare instances where a baby goes from being a baby to walking never crawling. If this happens, the brain sometimes doesn't get "wired" right and problems may develop. About the only way a person can correct this, if correction can be done, is to crawl around the floor for a period of time, until he/she begins to feel the correction. The same thing applies to communication. Learn how to go through the steps until you feel more confident about expressing your thoughts, fears, dreams, etc., so you can learn how to be intimate if you don't learn how to go through the logical steps, problems may develop.
If your mate/spouse does not want to communicate and be intimate, you will have to make a choice. Do you try to change him/her? Well, we know that is pretty much impossible. We can only change our "selves." Can you live without an intimate mate/spouse for the rest of your life? Can you say, "I want you to know I feel lonely even when I'm in the same room or in bed with you..." to your mate/spouse?
It's not healthy to say, "You're really making me mad by not..." that's the child ego state. Instead, tell the other person that you want them to know that you are angry, sad (etc.) and what you are angry, sad (etc.) about: "I want you to know that I am angry right now and I will take responsibility for my anger. I am angry because I saw a half-full tube of toothpaste in the trash."
When you are learning how to communicate, try not to put blame on the other person, i.e., "You're making me angry!" The other person will usually become defensive immediately and probably won't hear anything else you have to say. Instead, tell the other person that you are feeling angry and perhaps you don't even know why! If you do know why, as in the toothpaste scenario, you might also say, "I get angry when I see a half-full tube of toothpaste in the trash because to me, that represents money being thrown away. My parents taught me to waste not, want not watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.' Do you think we could roll those tubes up and squeeze them to the very end? I'd like to save our money so we could have an evening out or go on a vacation. Wouldn't you?" Yes, the other person still has a choice to make and hopefully it will be the decision to "waste not, want not" so you both will be able to save some money and enjoy a vacation together!
There is nothing in a relationship that can't be RESOLVED if we can communicate in a healthy way. We can even go through a divorce, if necessary, with little or no guilt, blame, recriminations, etc., if we can communicate and stay in the adult ego state. If a child or adolescent can communicate, then he/she probably won't feel the need to cut the "self" (self-mutilation), take drugs, dye the hair pink, etc. He/she will be able to verbalize feelings and "get them out" in a healthy manner.
If you can't communicate, you can't be intimate. Yes, you may think that it's not safe to communicate you may have a fear of it and you may joke, clown around, etc., but you will still have that fear. Sometimes it's easier to be intimate with a stranger or a group than with someone close to you. The stranger or group won't hurt as much if they giggle and laugh at you. Once you learn how to be intimate and have trust in the "self" as well as your friend or spouse, you will be able to allow giggles and laughter first, however, you need that growth for intimacy and trust.
Growth is when we are in a situation where we need to seek comfort and we are able to find it and stay there and usually requires us to get into an unknown situation. We also seek safety, which is adverse to emotional risk. KNOWN behavior is comfortable, even if it's not totally healthy. "Put yourself out there." Learn that you are "okay" and a survivor, even in an uncomfortable (unknown) situation. Grow and learn (small bits at a time) that you can trust and be intimate with another person. Yes, when you want to become intimate with another person, you need to choose that person wisely but if you can't communicate, then you will not have a choice because you won't ever get to "know" the other person, and vice versa.
A long time ago it was decided by many people that there was this omniscient person who had power over you to MAKE you feel bad or good. That kind of belief system is not really healthy. If you believe that, then in your family, you could be called a name, and that might hurt you and you would feel really bad. You would probably start wondering what you did to get the wrath of this omniscient person turned toward you AND YOU WOULD BELIEVE THAT YOU DESERVE TO FEEL BAD EVEN IF YOU HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG!
It may seem odd that when a child is taken from an unhealthy environment where he was beaten, yelled at, verbally/physically abused, etc., that the child will keep running back to that place (the child's understanding of NORMAL and KNOWN behavior). A psychiatrist will ask the child why and the child will tell the psychiatrist that it was too uncomfortable (the child couldn't RISK) being in some place where people were all "mushy" and "warm and fuzzy" (the child's understanding of UNKNOWN behavior). If you feel uncomfortable around "warm and fuzzy" people, you probably made that decision at a very early age. If you are in pain and/or feeling lonely, RISK! Try "warm and fuzzy" for a while! You might start liking it and you may even try getting "mushy" sometimes!
KNOWN BEHAVIORtoNEED TO RISKtoUNKNOWN BEHAVIORtoKNOWN BEHAVIOR
When we go to the UNKNOWN, it is scary yet it is necessary for growth.
Learn how to risk with small things first. You know your "known behavior." So you "risk" to get to the "unknown." You find out that you survived and that the "unknown" behavior is now the "known" behavior. Then you risk some more, going again to the unknown, which in turn becomes the known, etc.
For example, the caretaker uses almost all of his/her energy emotional, physical, mental, spiritual trying to change the behavior of the alcoholic. The caretaker must risk to get out of the "known" behavior of how to take care of the "self" and the alcoholic. This situation might be exemplified by imagining that you know how to swim but never learned how to dive into the water. You decide to learn how to dive and you get as far as the diving board then you bend over and start holding onto that diving board very tightly because you are afraid to let go and jump into the water for the first time. If someone by the swimming pool says, "JUMP! Trust me!" you probably won't jump. However, if the diving board were to catch on fire, you have to make the decision to stay on it or to jump. You might not jump, though, until the pain of the fire (loneliness) overcomes the fear of jumping (fear of intimacy). You may not know how hot the fire can get, but you can be fairly certain that the water probably won't be as hot and it probably will save your life so you jump. If you jump (take a risk) you would be able to save your "self" from being badly burned.
Some people, however, would die in the fire rump roast and all because they couldn't take a risk. If they don't jump (take a risk to learn how to become more healthy), they may die by slow suicide (drinking, taking drugs, etc.) or by fast suicide (wrecking the car, etc.). If they do take the risk to become more healthy, they may end up celebrating their 50th or 60th anniversary and wish for more they can actually enjoy each other's company and have a wonderful life!
If you don't know how to communicate and become intimate, you can end up in a very lethal game(s). The first thing most people say when they are in trouble is, "No one listens to me." The other people in their lives will say the same thing.
If your mate says that he/she would like you to swing from a chandelier, you could say in a healthy manner, "I want you to know I don't feel like doing that today." (Boundary) Or, you could say in an unhealthy manner, "No, you perverted, stupid, wrinkled creep!" (The Wall)
There should be no "sacred subject" in an intimate relationship. You should be able to talk about anything in an adult relationship and you may still have secrets. Sometimes trying to break the lock on the box of secrets may become lethal but to NOT break the lock on the box of secrets can be lethal, also! You may have been so badly abused even tortured that you think if you even TRY to remember what happened, that it will kill you. If that is the case, REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE A SURVIVOR! IF YOU WERE ABLE TO SURVIVE THE ABUSE, YOU MOST CERTAINLY SHOULD BE ABLE TO SURVIVE HEALING FROM IT!!!
You might even think you "caused" the abuse, therefore "deserved" it. That type of thinking can destroy your "self" and your self esteem. You have the CHOICE to continue living with the pain or to learn how to stop living with the pain by healing the "self." You may try to tell someone about the abuse and you may not be believed. In that and other scenarios, it may become dangerous especially if the abuser found out that you tried to tell someone. However, to become more healthy, you still need to expose and talk about the abuse! Find someone you can trust! There are ways to heal and still protect yourself.
If you were abused, you may be able to talk about sexual abuse all day, but you will not be communicating. You may also keep the secret that you were sexually abused from all of your friends, a special someone or even your wife/husband. To become healthy you need to understand that you MUST share your feelings (how you felt then and how you feel at the present time) about the abuse with someone you can trust (eventually even with your mate/spouse, if you are able). You may need to share with a church counselor, a therapist, a close friend, etc., first and that's okay. The secret(s) needs to be exposed in a healthy manner and the risk(s) needs to be taken so you can have a more peaceful, healthy, happy life.
Beliefs and values every one has some type of belief/value system(s). You can try to change another person's belief/value system, but you may end up destroying that other person. Stop and think about how important that particular belief/value system is in your relationship. Could you compromise?
Evaluate your belief and value systems periodically. Make sure they are what you want them to be, that they are not great-grandma's or dad's belief and value systems. Most of them are handed down for 5 to 6 generations and they can become distorted, rigid, unreal, etc. You need to be able to talk first the small "stuff," then the bigger "stuff," then the biggest "stuff." You also need to be able to stay in the adult ego state. When you are in the adult ego state you will probably make the decision (and compromise, not just insist) that the kids grow up in "our" generation with "our" beliefs and values (which are less distorted, less rigid, less unreal, etc.), which will make you and your family more "human" and more healthy and as adults, we make sure we do that for our children and for our "selves."
One of my childhood friends had a step-dad, a preacher, who berated her and "cast the devils" out of her every morning because she didn't work hard enough, etc., and so she was evil. He started doing this when she was about 6 years old. She decided at an early age (about 8 years old) to NOT believe in God because of her step-dad. She ended up marrying and divorcing several times. The men she chose beat her up in many different ways. She also beat herself up in many ways. She became very depressed during her 4th (or 5th) marriage and ended up in a hospital, virtually unresponsive. I tried to keep in touch with her, but sometimes she would disappear for a long time and no one would know where she was. When I found out she was in the hospital (after her mom finally found out), I got the phone number, and in God's good timing, was able to reach her (after speaking to several of the hospital staff) and was able to talk with her.
At first she didn't even talk. The nurse said she did seem to be listening, however. After quite a while, she began to realize who I was and eventually started talking, hesitantly at first, in partial sentences and with great difficulty. I reminded her about when we had to work at her family's motel (almost every time I visited), and how we tried to "out-do" each other with the cleaning, how we tried to make our work as fun as possible and how we tried to keep our "selves" sane. I reminisced with her about our childhood, concentrating on the fun things we did, like pretending to be horses, running in the wind, freely and playing with our dolls, holding them, loving them as we would do when we had children. (Both of us had a highly dysfunctional childhood, yet we managed to help each other stay as sane as possible. Her older brother killed himself before she turned 14 I often regret that we didn't know how to help him, too.)
Communication saved her and me! We talked several times over the course of a few months while she was in the hospital, and I could hear a difference every time. She came out of her "shell," chose to live again and finally got out of that hospital. She chose to live a more healthy life and go through the recovery process (yes, she had become an alcoholic). She ended up marrying a wonderful man who valued her and himself, and she started to have a decent life. She even began to believe in a Higher Power. We had many a talk about that subject! She finally started living her life in a healthy, more happy manner. Yes, she has many, many scars, but most (and probably all) of the wounds have healed up at last.
If you are extremely rigid because mom or dad was extremely rigid, you need to know that you don't have to keep that unhealthy value system. If you have that extremely rigid value system, you may try to force your husband/wife to swing from that chandelier destroying a part of his/her "self." When you learn to compromise and learn that you have the right to ask but he/she also has the right to say yes or no you become less rigid and you, your value system as well as your relationship, will become more healthy.
We do need values to stay moral. Who would be the toughest on you? Your dad, mom or you? YOU need to make the CHOICE to swing from the chandelier or not to swing on that chandelier. It's not your dad's or your mom's decision even though when you were a child, they yelled, "Because I said so!" The rules and values we live by may need to be different than the ones they had.
What do YOU want out of your life? What do YOU want to believe about your kids, work, etc.? If you say "no" all the time just because of your parent's decision to say "no" all the time, then you aren't making a CHOICE to have your own belief/value systems. When we start creating our own belief/value systems, we have the right to reject or follow other people's belief/value systems. You will have to search for your own beliefs/values and then accept them or reject them as you experience them in your everyday life.
Perhaps your parents believed that they were supposed to work hard and never have any fun. As a teenager, you went with friends who showed you how to have some fun at a carnival. As an adult, you may CHOOSE to believe you are supposed to work hard AND be able to have some fun once in a while, too! We need BALANCE in our lives!
Or, perhaps you decided at an early age to have the OPPOSITE belief/value system than what you were raised with then later you realized that you needed to "get back a little closer" to your parents' belief/value system. For example, if "work hard" was part of your mom's and/or dad's belief/value system and "get by with doing as little as possible" became your belief/value system, you probably rebelled when you finally got your first job, especially if the boss was a real jerk. You probably went to work late, took a break for too long at your job or left too early, etc. Of course, you probably lost several jobs before you DECIDED to RE-EVALUATE YOUR BELIEF/VALUE SYSTEM of "just get by," and then you probably decided to "work a little harder and smarter" because you finally realized that you were hurting yourself and your chances to be able to support yourself (and perhaps a future family) with a decent job and decent wages.
What is the value that you want in honesty, relationships, etc.? Do you want to only be comfortable, with no risk? Or, as an adult, can you look at that chandelier and wonder if maybe you are being too rigid because of what mom or dad believed and/or valued, and decide to compromise and try to swing on that chandelier to risk it? Perhaps you and your mate try it and thoroughly enjoy each other's company, laughing and having fun. Perhaps you try it and you never want to again after discovering your fear of heights it's okay at least you KNOW. Because you risked, you discovered your feelings about the chandelier, and now you can create your own belief/value system about swinging from chandeliers.
Yes, some things should not be risked, especially drugs, certain behaviors, etc. If you think that something or some lifestyle could cause injury or potentially be lethal in some way, then you can decide that you don't want to risk. Diving off of a high cliff into unknown waters is not safe and you don't have to do it. If you know how to swim and you want to learn how to dive, then start by learning how to dive off of a low diving board. Be sure there is someone else around who could help you, like an instructor, a lifeguard, etc. Gradually increase the height of the dive as long as you continue to feel comfortable. When you get to a point that you think it's too high stop! Then enjoy swimming and diving with your family and friends.
When we are being intimate (remember, done with clothes on), and the other person says something that we misconstrue, we may get very angry and decide that this person is not going to be a friend or is not "the one." Before you tell this other person to "take a hike," stop! Look at the other person and ask him/her (for example), "When we were talking, I thought you said that you don't like fat people did you mean to say that?" If the other person says that was not what he/she meant, then give that person a chance to clarify what was said. If, for some unknown reason the person did mean to say, "I don't like fat people," you might ask, "Do you also mean that you don't like my dad? He's kinda fat..." Give the other person a chance before you "jump the gun." Perhaps that person may stutter, stop and realize he/she was being too judgemental on people who are over weight, and will apologize and decide NOT to be so judgemental in that area and perhaps other areas as well. Also, beware of criticizing another person for ANY handicap! The same handicap or worse could come back to haunt your own "self!"
Communication and the meaning behind what you are saying can be mistaken often, especially when people of different ethnic groups get together. If you think someone said something that perhaps offended you, it is imperative that you clarify what is being said AT THAT TIME so that you don't misinterpret. And if you are talking and suddenly someone looks at you with a "what did you just say???" look on his/her face, stop. You may have to ask the person right then and there what he/she THOUGHT you just said. Clarify if he/she misunderstood THEN don't wait until later.
Misunderstandings have caused wars, among other things. Good communication and intimacy are necessary for a happy, healthy life.
*Recreated from notes taken during lectures at various hospitals, and at the YWCA, etc., including classes given by Jim Osborn, a great teacher 2007