P1 When a child feels rejected—and you know that every child does—whether this feeling is justified or unjustified makes no difference—in most instances it feels more rejected by one of the parents than by the other. The desired aim—exclusive love and acceptance—is confused with the parent withholding it. In the confused, immature mind of the child, the rejecter now becomes desirable, taking the place of that which was originally desired: exclusive love, approval, and acceptance.
The child’s psyche says: “If I am unloving, I will be desirable, my love will be sought. Just as I do not reject my rejecter, so will I no longer be rejected. Since the rejecter seems cold, aloof, and free of emotions, this behavior pattern—imagined or real—becomes desirable and something to be emulated.
P2 Deep in the unconscious, he or she feels that it is undesirable, and therefore shameful, to demonstrate all that for which the child within still yearns. There is, on the one hand, the guilt of selfishness and self-centeredness which makes loving an unprofitable, disadvantageous adventure. There is, on the other hand, the shame of loving. Thus you feel guilty for not loving and ashamed to love.
Consider also that the child feels deeply humiliated when it yearns for love and affection but is rejected instead. In its unconscious mind the idea forms that to love is humiliating. Such subtleties are at work when you are ashamed to ask for something, or when you detect an acute feeling of shame about showing your heart and exposing your innermost need. Or, for instance, you find that you are ashamed to pray.
Sometimes it is very obvious, then again it becomes compounded with so many other conflicts that it is hard to detect. Nevertheless, some of this basic conflict exists in every individual. If the situation is such that the rejecter is outwardly the “superior” one, always the winner, while the loving parent is subdued, apparently weaker and under the domination of the rejecting parent, and perhaps even a little bit despised, the conflict becomes even stronger in the soul.
P3 The child then gains the impression that the loving parent is weak, while the rejecter is strong. Therefore love becomes weakness, while aloofness is a sign of strength, at least in the unconscious. Or, outwardly neither (of the parents) is domineering and “strong,” but inwardly such an imbalance in the relationship exists very definitely. You must not forget that especially as a child, you absorb the inner situation, you register it very finely, while you retain the outer situation in your intellectual memory. The latter has much less effect on you than the former.
No matter how the outer situation appears, you acutely feel the dependent, wanting, needing parent as inferior, while the one who rejects these wants and needs you regard as strong and superior. You would rather be accepted by the desirable rejecter than be identified with the weak, needy and dependent parent.
As far as your innermost self is concerned, whether you actually betray the weak parent in words or deeds, or if you merely desire to do so, does not matter. The betrayal is aggravated because you abandon the very thing you yearn for. You betray the best in you because you prohibit the unfoldment of your love capacity. You now unconsciously consider his or her (parent) very act of giving as a weakness that deserves contempt.
P4 The betrayal weighs you down with guilt. It is the deepest of your guilts. As long as you do not become aware of and face all the ramifications and aspects of your betrayal of the one who has loved you most for the one who has given you less – at least, according to your feelings—that betrayal darkens your outlook on life. It eliminates your self-assurance, your self-confidence, your self-respect. It is responsible for the deepest roots of your inferiority feelings. You do not trust yourself with this betrayal locked in your soul.
Your psyche says: “How can I trust myself knowing that I am a traitor, knowing that I go on constantly betraying the best in me? If I cannot trust myself, I cannot trust anyone else.” If you do not trust people, you are bound to attract those who will constantly confirm to you that you have no reason to trust them. Whenever you reject a person who is ready to offer you genuine love and affection or friendship or help in some way, and for one reason or another you feel or imagine this person to be helpless or weak or dependent, he or she takes on the role of the “weak” parent.
Based on the wrong conclusion it follows that: love is weakness; withholding love and affection is strength. Since you do not wish to be weak and needy, you not only emulate the person who corresponds to your wrong concept of strength, but you also betray the one who seems weak to you.
P5 Find the part in your emotions where you ascribe weakness to acts of love and humility that are tendered in a healthy and real sense. Find in you the part which believes that strength is aloofness or coldness. The main component of the wall behind which you hide the real you is the shame of imagined weakness, of being yourself with all the tenderness and understanding, with all the sympathy and vulnerability of your loving heart. The shame of loving and giving causes you to hide your true self behind a wall. The inevitable effect must be the realization that you are condemned and left alone.
P7 No one is wicked or bad or malicious because he enjoys it for its own sake. A person may be all those because he mistakenly thinks it serves him as a protection. So, when people behave negatively, you will no longer feel frightened or personally involved. It will no longer cause you hardship.
—The Pathwork® Guide