October 29

Generational Learning

October 29, 2012

Marriage, Personal Growth

Annette sat down in my office and said, "As you know, I've been studying Real Love for a year now, but I keep making mistakes. On occasion I still get angry at my husband, and I get impatient with my kids."

"Wow," I said, "so after a whole year you're not loving everybody perfectly?"

It was obvious that my tone was mocking in a gentle and loving way, so she chuckled. "I get your point," she said, "and I was about to tell you something like that. I visited my parents last night, and I spent the entire time watching them like it was a clinical exercise. I was absolutely blown away by the constant arguing and feeling of bitterness that filled their house. It was like being surrounded by poison. In the last year I could see more and more that my parents had been far less loving than I was led to believe—by them. I'm not criticizing them as I say that, just realizing that the way they raised me definitely was not unconditionally loving."

"True for almost all of us," I said.

"And the more I watched them last night, the clearer it became. They never stopped picking at each other, and I remembered more how that made me feel as a child. But I didn't call to criticize them. I actually called to tell you that I'm very happy."

"In what way?"

"I realized that even though I still make mistakes with my husband and children, I've made unbelievably positive steps from where I was a year ago. If I hadn't learned about Real Love, I'd still be doing what my parents do—or worse. I'd be doomed to a lifetime of the hell they live in. So my attitude has changed a lot toward my mistakes. I'm really changing, mistakes and all. I don't have to feel ashamed. Instead I'm encouraged."

Once we learn about unconditional love—and especially after we feel it—we tend to be in a hurry to be perfectly loving. But we're changing the inertia of many generations of pain and unproductive perceptions, feelings, and behavior. It's pretty difficult—often very, very difficult—to change all that. In fact, very few of us can heal ALL our wounds and our pain at the lightning speed we'd like. Even with years of work, most of us can't heal completely, but we can heal a great deal. And we can pass that healing and that love on to the people around us, and with that love they can reach a level of healing and health beyond what we can achieve.

To be briefly and intensely personal, my father—for example—is emotionally healthier and more loving than his father. As a result of considerable personal evaluation and work, I'm much more loving than my father, and my children have achieved a level of health and happiness that I couldn't have imagined when I was their age. Oh, but my grandchildren! They feel more loved, they are more loving, and they are more responsible than I thought children their age could ever be. Just watching them makes me weep.

In short, healing is usually gradual. Relatively complete healing can take years, but sometimes it requires generations. We need to keep a long-range perspective and be grateful for all our steps forward, remembering not to ruin our joy by becoming impatient.

PCSD

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