We are all in a post-hypnotic trance induced in early infancy.
~ R.D. Laing
Every human being emerges from childhood in a trance.
Its defining characteristic is a tendency to perceive and treat ourselves as we were perceived and treated by our parents.
If they loved and accepted us, we love and accept ourselves.
If they abused or neglected or judged us, we abuse or neglect or judge ourselves.
Garbage in, garbage out. As with computers, so with children.
All this is pretty much inescapable.
And as adults most of us walk around hypnotized much of the time without realizing it.
Adult relationships, though, tend to trigger our awareness of this trance.
This happens because, in our need for our partners’ love and acceptance and approval, we tend to confuse them with our parents.
We slip back into the Kid Trance, where how we feel about ourselves depends on how we are seen and treated by someone else.
This is both an awful and a wonderful thing.
It’s awful because of it how feels. It’s never fun feeling like a vulnerable, self-doubting, dependent kid in a grownup’s body.
It’s wonderful because of the opportunity it offers.
Because adult relationships provide a second chance — a chance to awaken from the trance, to revisit distorted conclusions about ourselves and our worth as people, and to redefine both in light of a more adult awareness.
We do this mainly by practicing what kids cannot do:
We act like ourselves.
We tell the truth.
This is not easy work.
It can be scary to be ourselves.
It’s especially scary if our past attempts at doing so were met with criticism or conflict or rejection.
Since the alternative is to remain permanently hypnotized.