With his grandmother, 9 Year old Jimmy came for a session to my office. I was the last therapist to try before they would put Jimmy on medication for ADHD and hyperactivity. Grandma was the caretaker for Jimmy and his sister because their parents were divorced and unable to take care of their children. Grandma spoke very negatively about her ex-daughter in law. “She‘s a horrible mother, a drug addict. She’s not even paying child-support.” Jimmy looked away while she spoke. For me the task was to elicit some empathy from grandmother for Jimmy’s mother, who was seemingly immersed in her own problems. Being addicted to drugs never occurs because of happy reasons. Grandma was not open to hear any other vision than her own.
I asked Jimmy to “map his family” with colored footprints he would choose from, and to put them in the open space on the floor that we call “the field”. Spontaneously he put the footprints wherever he felt like. He chose a pair of footprints for himself, his mother, father, sister and grand- parents. We added the dog too. I asked Jimmy to put shapes that are representing feelings next to the footprints , where ever he would feel comfortable . Those feelings would then be seen as belonging to the footprints of that person. Jimmy put next to everyone “love” but not for himself. He put “sadness” to his mother’s footprints and also to his own. He put “anger” next to his father’s prints.
The mapping shows the inner picture of how Jimmy perceives his family and ultimately his world. He was obviously feeling lonely, disconnected from his parents, but supported by grandparents, and had no love for himself (!).
The way he positioned his own feet showed a deep longing for his mother. It became clear how he was connected to his mother, which was with sadness and pain. He peeked from the corners of his eyes to his grandmother, almost afraid of what she would think from all this and he saw that she was tearing up. This picture made her realize that it is detrimental for the boy when she speaks negatively about his mother. His feelings need to be respected. Even a troubled mother wants to be loved by the child, and deserves respect for wherever and whatever she is going through. Most importantly, regardless of the situation, the child will love his mother. The child needs to have positive feelings about his parents., which can be very difficult and conflicting. Tearing natural family ties apart can cause restlessness and depression. It is our judging that can hurt others so much. One session seemed to be enough to have Jimmy‘s behavior change. The need for medication was gone.
The green footprints are from Jimmy, yellow and blue the grandparents, dark pink the dad (left corner beneath), yellow in the upper left corner; the mom. The pink circles symbolize “love”, the purple circles “sadness”. Red square: anger
We could simply realize that many are not really happy with themselves or in their relationships. Self-love, as the basis of the ability to love others, is often very hurt or even absent. In my practice I frequently face that the root cause of many issues is based on a lack of experiencing to be appreciated and accepted for who they really are. This appreciation is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children.
We have disconnected so completely that we willingly engage in the dysfunction, yet we seem not to know how to make the changes.
Bound by fear and relishing in illusory symbols of status and power, we choose to spiral through depending on approval and life clinging to our reputations, our homes, our cars and our jobs as if they defined our very existence. We and of course our children are paying the price.
Every time a child commits suicide or goes on another school shooting rampage, we struggle to understand why? Fingers are pointed in every direction – at the media, the psychiatric drugs, the music industry, video games, lack of morality in America, but our fingers are never turned inward, toward our own hearts. We simply do not understand.
It is time to recognize that our own words and actions as the cause of an ever-eroding respect for life. respect coming from our hearts, not from superficial politeness.
It’s time to begin the healing of our hearts, to move from closed to an open heart.
In the past decades much psychotherapy was focused on blaming the parents when a child, regardless what age, had problems of thriving. It did not contribute to more inner peace, in many cases.
NOW there is a common belief that when issues are arising, the blame for the problems is put on the ABSENCE of a parent. Either way, blaming does not create compassion, healing or insight, only guilt, shame and victim-hood.
The absence of an abusive parent could be a bliss as well, the less violence in a child’s life, the better, right?
Key of the issue is that when the CHILD is helped to heal negative experiences and is guided to learn to forgive, to be empathic and taught to LOVE and APPRECIATE him/herself really, those energies pre-pave the path to a healthy, happy and thriving personality. Every experience can be turned around into an opportunity for growth and strength takes effort, but the outcome is so much better!
Acknowledge their brightness, teach to heal and clear wounds of the past at any moment in time!
We have been taught, at least most of us, to develop a sharp, critical mind. The sharper, the better. We were validated if we were really good at it. It is this mindset that is detrimental for happy relationships. If we use our criticism, masking our real feelings of disappointment, hurt and unmet needs, we become real fault-finders. Hard to live and to deal with! If we CHOOSE to become a LOVE finder, focusing on the beauty in others, our level of happiness improves and elevates drastically…
Practice it..and enjoy the results…