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As we grow up our relationship with our parents changes over time. This is a natural course, initially we idolise our parents- we follow them and imitate their behaviours. Then we separate our identities from them; rebelling; rejecting them and their ideas. We aspire to be different, to be more, and we focus on their flaws and shortcomings. We vouch we will be different, do things differently and even rear our children differently. And then in our adulthood, when we may be physically/ geographically distant from them, we realise how much we yearn for their support or approval. We acknowledge their struggles more and see them more for the individuals that they are.

This can be quite generalising, however it is a common theme which I have come across not only in my personal life, but also through the narratives that clients bring in therapy. Growing older I also see the frailty of my parents who are also growing old and the implications that this brings with it. I stop to reflect on the values that I embrace and how these were passed on, intentionally or unintentionally by my parents. How they contributed to the path I have taken in my life and on my own process in becoming more the person I am today. Ending 2020 and starting 2021 is a good place to stop and reflect on our personal journey. Where am I coming from? Where am I currently? And where do I want to go from here?

Stopping and reflecting means getting in touch with our history and roots. We all started off from someplace, and it is important to keep this in mind. When we evaluate our actions and feelings, it is good to keep them in context and stop taking a judgmental stance towards ourselves. By acknowledging our history, we accept who we are and what we do, even if we may not like this. This gives us the power to decide to change things and the resources to try and be different, rather than feel stuck at blaming and feeling bitter.

Stopping and reflecting also means getting in touch with the present and becoming more grounded in the current situation. This is important in order to really feel and experience our situation and carry out a reality check on what it is that isn’t working for us right now. To really acknowledge what needs to be changed or what is working well. Sometimes we rush through life in a disconnected manner and allow things which are not working well for us to be repeated and amplified until they reach a point where we can’t take it anymore. A point where we have reached our limits and have limited resources to change things.

Stopping and reflecting also means giving oneself direction, a goal and a purpose. This means that we can make a plan, gather resources, and come up with a strategy to achieve our goal. This also helps us to come to terms with what has been in the past, and what needs to change for the future. Which brings us to a full circle in our reflection of our narrative, back to our parents. Back to the meaning of our life narrative and the terminality of it all.

What purpose does our narrative have? What meaning does it all have? What is your meaning and purpose? How will you define your narrative?

Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on abigail@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.