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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Unlived Life of the Parent

Jung wrote: Nothing affects the life of the child so much as the unlived life of its parent. What you do not become conscious of in yourself, will find a secret life in your child, and therefore it is truly your responsibility - not only to yourself, but also to your children - to not cease in exploring your inner self.

It is crucial to understand that the part of you that you, yourself do not bring out on the table in your own life, affects your child on subliminal levels and will – at least until the child becomes conscious and aware - direct his life without either of you realizing it.

Let me hit you with a colossal – and obvious – example: a parent who has not learned to acquaint him/herself with the inner self and has not begun to love that self, will clearly taint the early years of the child – no matter how greatly the child is loved – due to this lack of self-love. A human being who does not love the self, is simply very different – and, if I might say so – on a lower scale of evolution, and quite clearly on a lower level of emotional maturity, than a human being who has begun the process of loving the self. 

Therefore, this unlived life of the parent’s self will impact the child enormously, and, unless the child discovers these matters himself as he grows, may impact the entire lifespan.

Since the notion of self-love is unlived in the parent – how can the parent ever model such a concept to the child? Simultaneously, the parent will model all the compensating behaviors; all the protective mechanisms he himself has erected, in order to be able to live with himself in this barren, inner, self-negating world. He will, in no particular order of importance, teach the child to rely on the ego for feeling good about the self. That means of course that to feel good about the self is based on the acquisition of outer "toys", on outer honor and prestige (none of which is bad, by the way, it is simply not enough, but most certainly negative, if that is what someone needs in order to feel good). He will teach the child to emotionally manipulate others (and probably emotionally manipulates the very child), in order to make his own world right. He will teach the child the importance of constant outer control, or at least attempted outer control over others, over circumstances and situations, in order to keep some of the inner demons at bay, not to mention teaching inner control over all feelings and thoughts that might not fit into the Weltanschauung that the parent has slowly evolved over the decades of his own life. This might imply not being curious about religions or spirituality, for example, as that implies actually facing monumental questions concerning integrity, morality, ethics, honor, and so much more, that the parent is potentially eschewing in his own life of rigid order to help him minimize such articulations, or it might mean tightly and rigidly adhering to the precepts of one single religion, no matter how nonsensical, simply in order to have that “under control” as well.

Sometimes parents will come to see me with the hope that I can ‘fix’ their child. I’ve written about this before in my article The Absolutely Best Way to Help Your Children Grow Into Exceptional Adults and my stock answer is more or less that I can do so if they themselves will begin the process of their own ‘fixing’. In other words, they will need to discover their own unlived life.

Let’s look at another example. Is the parent living a life of purpose? Does the parent even know what a life of purpose entails? If the parent has not yet begun to peek at this part of his own unlived life, he will again, have an impact on the lives of his children because meaningful and articulate conversations about these issues will never rise to the table. And by the way, this should not be misunderstood in the sense that the parent might have wished to be a painter, and instead, due to parental pressure that he received in turn, and thus became a lawyer. While this would also be a kind of unlived life, it is, however, often a generally openly acknowledged and recognized life, whether lived or not. What this article is examining, is the life that is not even discovered yet; the one with which the parent has not begun to engage.

Living a life of purpose implies giving value to your own life. You can quickly see how this is not going to happen as long as there is no importance being given to self-love, and how this will – again – impact on the child’s life, who will need to discover all of this on his own, and it may not hit his consciousness until he is well into adulthood himself.

Not living a life of purpose signifies that on some level the parent is not fulfilled, even though he may not be fully aware of what the nagging in his solar plexus is all about, especially if he has reaped professional, financial, and social honors. Not being fulfilled will affect his mood, his interaction with others, his sense of well-being, to name only a few, and this will, of course, have an effect on his child. His child will not be able to observe that daily moving towards fulfilling yet another part of the parent’s dream, or sense of purpose, simply due to its palpable absence, although no one would necessarily be able to put a label on it.

The unlived life of the parent is onerous in some ways. It sets up the scene for a great deal of mis-managed and unrecognized psychic energy in the household, as Jung called it, that negatively impacts on all its members. Yet, reflecting on my own life and that of many of my clients, I have come to realize that it offers a very specific ‘set-up’ for the child that will allow it – should it so decide – to grow in many ways that the parent never did, simply because the child begins by being vaguely aware that something is missing, or something is wrong, or simply, something is not right, and then, bit by bit, starts on a path of personal discovery by observing what helps his own inner process. If this truly happens, the next generation will be in the enviable position to live a very different life. In hindsight, the child, now evolved into a conscious adult, will recognize that ultimately its own growth stems precisely from the unlived life of its parent.

© Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D.



See the preview (click the title below) to my online video course:

"Fatherless Women & Motherless Men"


See the preview (click on the title below) to my online video course:

"Freedom From the Torture of Your Thoughts"


See the preview (click on the title below) to my online video course  



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Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books (also in Spanish & German). My latest book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is available globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.

Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (English). Available globally in paperback or Kindle e-book versions

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Libros por Gabriella Kortsch (español) ... ahora en todo el mundo en Amazon en versión bolsillo y Kindle

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