It’s “e” day on ABC Wednesday and “m” day on AlphabeThursday and that for me brings to mind my late teacher, Ellen Margron. I’ve been thinking lately about the part of her version of Fischer Hoffman that affected me hugely and has continued to be a useful tool.
We spent a long time using a sixteen page list of negative beliefs and admonitions to identify everything we could possibly come up with (including beliefs and admonitions not on the list) that our mothers believed and then that our fathers believed. And that’s on every subject you can imagine: sex, money, jobs, success, failure, body image, fatness, thinness, femininity, masculinity, spousal roles, health, wealth, siblings, family, inheritance, culture, society, politics, legacy, etc.
A crucial piece of the teaching was that we should not confront our parents with anything because these lists are perceptions of our parents and don’t necessarily have anything to do with our actual parents. The lists in their entirety give you a map of a huge percentage of your beliefs and admonitions. A few experiences of siblings making lists about their parents helped me realize how true the perception piece is because they’ll often have lists that are completely contradictory as to what each parent believed. They each filtered experience and things their parents said through their own personality and understood the same things differently.
I particularly liked this one because it was somehow easier to identify the beliefs when I thought of them as belonging to Mom or emanating from Dad. It was also startling to see what I really believed. Another part of the work helped to release a lot of those beliefs. But I came away knowing that any time one of my parents is driving me crazy with an attitude or belief that I need to take a look to see where it shows up in me. That list is generally jumbled up and a given belief may only show up in a certain circumstance and not in others or may appear in several contexts only if particular conditions are present.
I highly recommend that you work on your own lists of mother’s beliefs and father’s beliefs in order to discover great insights about what you believe. And then remember that it really is just what you believe and doesn’t necessarily have any reality for the parent to whom you attribute it. Thanks Ellen!