Children who grow up in dysfunctional family systems do not develop emotional EQ. They miss important developmental milestones because they are busy putting all of their energy into survival. This leads to children who grow up to become Adult children also known as the Adult Child.
If you grow up in a home where your caregiver raged at you or stonewalled at you, its understandable that what was role modelled to you was that you are responsible for your caregivers anger or any other feeling that they are projecting on to you.
Functional adults, however, take responsilbity for their feelings and do not project them on to others. They do not post nasty messages on social media when they are mad at someone. Functional adults do not write nasty emails to the person when they are upset because they believe the person deserves to read it. Functional adults do not rage at their children or partners. Functional adults do not blame others for how they are feeling. They do not gossip behind the persons back, or try to align others against the person they are mad at. They simply take responsibility for their anger.
“Wait … what? so then you are saying whenever I feel mad its not the other person’s fault? “
No! Someone could have done something to you that makes you mad and its understandable why you are mad, its just not mature to take it out on that person. Children take their feelings out on others. Functional adults do not take their feelings out on others.
If you believe you are an adult child, ACOA or CODA is a wonderful support system for you. This support group will give you tools on how to regulate feelings.
In order to take responsibility for our feelings we have to first understand what feelings jobs are.
I will use anger as an example.
Anger has the following jobs
A) to right an unjust act
B) to protect us from fear
C) to protect us from feeling hurt
D) to help us meet a goal.
The next time you are angry at someone and you believe its another person’s fault and therefore this justifies getting angry and acting out at them.
Am I hurt?
What am I afraid of?
Am I angry because I can’t meet my goal ( Road Rage)
How can I obtain justice for me or at a global level? How can I make this right ( social Justice).
Anger can save our life especially in the case of fight- flight response i.e, fire, attack or wild animal. Rage is hardwired to protect us.
Anger can help us to stay away from those who bully or harm us.
Anger can motivate us to make something unjust right. Civil rights movements.
The next time someone has done something that has hurt you ask yourself, What kind of boundary do I need to set with this person in order to protect myself from this happening again? This solves the problem and prevents you from falling into the blame game.
If you are an adult child it won’t be easy to take responsibility for your feelings but it can be done with patience and practice.
© Crystal Arber