Posted: June 15, 2020 in: Pain-2-Power, Personal Empowerment


How does it happen that by the time we are adults, we live lives partly based on denial, fiction and repression, depriving ourselves of the enormous personal power that comes from living authentic lives?  Part of the answer is often that as vulnerable children and adolescents, we began quietly recording our life stories, but not quite according to the facts.  Instead, we began mentally writing partly fictional autobiographies designed to make us feel safe and loved and to insulate us from the real psychological toll of thinking we were less than unconditionally loved and entirely safe.

To do this, we had to see our parents, the people we relied  on for our very survival, as being very nearly perfect, or at least as making good sense—even if they didn’t, and even if it meant burying reality and parts of our true selves in service to a reassuring vision of our early life experiences.

So many people maintain a “Hallmark card” version of their youth when no one really gets through to adulthood without disappointments or injuries.

Research data supports this tendency to window-dress—even in the extreme. Some children who are actually abused selectively remember the rare positive experiences they had with those who abused them.  Severely traumatized children may forget being abused altogether.  And a child rejected by his or her father or mother will often identify with the rejecting parent in order to regain that parent’s love, despite the fact that doing so means denying deeply held feelings of anxiety or anger.

I hope you didn’t live through such extreme experiences, but you may well have neatly tied bows with the loose ends of your life, anyhow.  And that can set you up to be someone who wears rose-colored glasses as an adult—unable to see those loose ends before they fray badly and become undeniable.

Pain-2-Power is all about making your vision sharp and clear so that you can locate and fix today’s troubles before they become unmanageable.  It is about becoming proactive about the truth, rather than protective of it.

Mastering this ability usually takes some work because our truth as younger people was distorted not only by denying the injuries we suffered but by a kind of permeability to the narrative force of others.  The way our parents, older siblings, teachers and other caretakers interpreted (or spun) the meaning of the events unfolding around us influenced the way we came to understand them.  We echoed and mimicked their perspectives because we wanted to rely on them and participate in a shared experience with them, and because we were still learning about ourselves and the world.

It is hard to imagine a five-year-old boy with an ability to see to the core of complex relationships.  But even if he could, it would be difficult for him to resist the urgings of the adults around him to see those relationships differently.  To do so would likely make the child feel too isolated, afraid or guilty.

In other words, kids will surrender their version of reality to that of the powerful adults around them.

That kind of “willingness” to go with the flow and not assert one’s own opinion about a situation can easily leak into adulthood.

Pain-2-Power is also designed to stop that tendency to abandon your intuitions and opinions, which are your path to insight.

Here’s the really good news:  It doesn’t take years to begin becoming yourSELF.  But it does take the decision to get started.


Dr. Keith Ablow


Comments are closed.