#11 - I Conditioned My Parents and Now I'm Doing Everything I Can to Undo It

During the time between middle school and a year after college, every time my parents talked to me, it was as if they were walking through a field of landmines. At any time, any words or actions could trigger an explosion.

I was cool as a cucumber with friends, bottling up my anxiety to release at home.

Quietly stressed out, I didn't have the tool to process my fears, insecurities, and desires.

I wasn't conscious of my impact on others, especially my parents. They bore the brunt of my inability to self-regulate and still loved me unconditionally in a way only parents can.

But there were consequences.

As I learned later in life, the words I say and the things I do train the people in my life on how to engage with me.

I now notice these conditioned thought patterns and behaviors come up regularly.

The biggest one? My parents are reluctant to ask me for help and will often not do so until it's too late. They're afraid that I will be bothered.

I get to take responsibility for this because I was the one who trained them on what my response would be.

I am committed to creating disconfirming experiences where I respond to their requests with ease, free of frustration, and set healthy boundaries as needed.

By talking about these realizations openly, my parents and I are now able to slowly undo those years of conditioning, unlocking far more love, affinity, and contribution to each other's lives than we ever thought possible.

Joseph J. Lam
On a mission to help people connect deeply with their parents. | CEO & Co-founder of Parents Are Human (parentsarehuman.com)