Early Memories of Mom and Dad

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!

20 thoughts on “Early Memories of Mom and Dad

  1. THIS is FASCINATING! My parents are both deceased, so I think of my sisters (younger by 16 months and 5 years) as having the “same” parents, though, of course, they did not.

    • Yes. I don’t have siblings so I didn’t realize until I saw some siblings naming parents’ beliefs that every kid in a family has a different perception of what each parent believed, though they may agree on some.

    • A little idle searching has never turned it up on line. Somewhere I still have the hand-out. If I can find it and get someone to scan it I’ll let you know. And on an external hard drive with issues I have some old documents that include some class materials I wrote with a shortened version of that list so one day I may at least have that. I did find this discussion of the process that includes a couple of sections that give you an idea of what was on the 16 page list: http://inherentexcellence.com/resources/hoffman-nls.pdf

  2. I love this idea! I’ve been recently working on a timeline, going back and trying to figure out where and why certain patterns began. This feels very connected–our parents form so much of our own ideas and beliefs, even when we might consciously think we’re rejecting them!

    • Oh yes, rejection of beliefs is generally just another way those beliefs show up in your system. After we spent a few months making our belief and admonition lists as long as possible we wrote autobiographies of our lives with each parent, which was informed by the memories we’d unearthed in creating the lists… Sounds like a similar process to creating a time line of patterns and memories. It really shifted huge amounts for me.

  3. this is very interesting – I’d like to see my sister’s list – I’m sure we can’t think alike, even though we spent about the same amount of time with the same mother.

  4. Interesting idea. I think I’ve done this over the years, not so deliberately in one fell swoop. But I know that as I’ve gotten older I’ve definitely learned things about myself as I’ve learned them about my parents.

  5. I am quite intriqued by this idea.

    And it really hit home for me.

    I think this is something I need to work on.

    My parents are very negative people and promote such negative energy. I work to combat it but I suspect I still need a lot of work in this area.

    Thanks for a fascinating share.


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