I think the fact that you are already asking the question of “will my parents’ mistakes affect me” sets you apart from most other people. Being self-aware and increasing your understanding of why the mistake took place is a great place to begin when moving forward.
Leveraging parents’ mistakes to increase your personal success!
You obviously had ZERO control over the outcome and choices of your parents’ lives, but you have absolute control over the choices you make in your own life! Does that mean you won’t face challenges, failures, disappointments, or setbacks in life? No, but it does mean that while you cannot control your circumstances, you CAN control how you react to them.
What does that mean?
Let’s start with an example.
In my counseling practice, I have come across people who will say that because their father had an affair, they are then more susceptible to making that same mistake. They would then go on to explain that these kinds of things must be etched somewhere in their DNA or that they learned this type of behavior growing up and are now just facing the consequences of generational patterns and dysfunction. So then in the future when they make the decision to have an affair, they easily make the connection back to “well, my father had an affair and I realized that I was just like him, so that must be the main reason why I am in this situation”.
So who’s responsible?
With this line of thinking, where does the responsibility lie?
While the person who had the affair may admit that they in fact made the choice of being unfaithful to their spouse, they are ultimately saying it is their father’s fault because he first set the path. Or maybe even going back as far as a grandparent, claiming that it is enmeshed within their family history. Isn’t it easier to blame our bad genes and our poor role models growing up than to fix our self-talk and negative thought processes?
Now you might be thinking that this person just wants to shirk responsibility and this is just another lame excuse for their poor behaviors, but I have worked with well meaning, genuine people who truly believe that they are destined to follow after their parents. They may have been told this or just grown to accept it over the years.
Has anyone ever told you, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, “like father like son”, “like mother like daughter”, etc.?
So where do we go from here?
If this resonates with you, don’t fall into a guilt and shame trap. Recognize it for what it is and then begin taking steps to change your way of thinking, which ultimately will change your actions as well.
Seek accountability from those in your life who have proven trustworthy. Take a risk and set up an appointment with your local counselor. Go for coffee with someone who is a bit farther along on this journey than you. The more support you have, the more faithful you will be to this new discipline.
It is possible to lead a very different life than your parents and to even leverage their mistakes to propel you into future success!
Now for some practical steps you can take today!
Identify and name the mistake(s) that your parents’ made or are making. This is an important step because you cannot avoid these mistakes if you don’t acknowledge and seek to understand them first.
Here are some examples:
- My parents’ have had checks bounce.
- My parents’ relationship failed.
- My father has been fired several times.
- My mother had an affair.
- My father always criticized everyone.
- My parents’ struggled with substance abuse.
- My mother is extremely co-dependent.
Be sure to add to or modify this list based on your own life experiences.
Decide that you want to live differently. Knowing that you are consciously making this choice, you can now lead your life in a way that avoids those same mistakes, whether that be living with integrity, valuing honesty, creating a balance of work and play, engaging in activities and practices that better you, setting important boundaries, practicing healthy communication skills, navigating conflict well,cultivating relationships that contain depth, seeking out opportunities to be challenged and refined, living within your means, etc.
These are all attainable goals. You just have to decide if you will follow through with them or not. It is not easy, but if you really wanted easy, I don’t think you would have been asking the initial question of “will my parents’ mistakes affect me”. The desire for more is there…lean into that.
Live this out on a daily basis. Be conscious of it. Value this choice. Instead of allowing this mistake to cloud your life and using it as an excuse to not live out your full potential, use this mistake to mold you into a person that others admire.
Knowing what you don’t want to be is just as important as knowing who you do want to be!
Wouldn’t it be cool if your kids one day said, “I want to work hard at being just as awesome as my parents are”? Will there be things they will want to change? Sure! We want that for them. It is inevitable that parents always want their children to do better in life than they did.
Now it is time for you to take what they have learned and use it for good…cr