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What is Driving Your Ambition, Purpose or Parental Wound

What is Driving Your Ambition, Purpose or Parental Wound

Children do not emerge from their mother's wombs hardwired to chase material success and specific goals. These are determined in large measure by the parent's own psychological wounds or lacks, which are consciously or subliminally superimposed on the child's psyche in the early developmental years. According to Don Miguel Ruiz, author and shaman, “we domesticate humans the same way we domesticate a dog or any other animal: with punishment and reward.” The result of this process of domestication is that the child betrays his own innate sense of worthiness and yearns to be accepted by the parent. Thus follows the long and tedious journey of unconscious obedience to the parent's wishes at the cost of forsaking one's intuitive dreams and individual purpose, which keeps him stuck in the quicksand of unfulfillment and unhappiness. Consequently, success is misconstrued to be the mindless participation in a wild rat race that defies intuitive wisdom.

Ranjan was a man of meager means who could barely make ends meet. Poverty was his Achilles heel and he truly believed that if only he had more money, he would be accepted and respected in society. For him money was the currency of power, of making the impossible possible. He lived with this singular obsession and made sure to imprint his sons’ minds with a blind faith in the money God, above all else.

Suhel, the elder of his two sons, was instinctively creative. He recalls with vivid indignation, his father's utter disbelief and anger when he first spoke about wanting to pursue a career in creative arts. "Artists don't make money”, his father had yelled at him, "a man must do only that which earns him a handsome profit." It isn't surprising that Suhel grew up to be obsessed with making money. He mentions currency and calculations in a single sentence like people drop names to feel relevant and important. Even on family vacations, his mind is less attuned to his family and more focused on evaluating business ideas and ways of improving profits. He dreams that someday he will be able to build a business empire large enough to impress his father, but despite having multiplied his wealth manifold, he has never felt acknowledged by the old man. This feeling of not being worthy of his father's appreciation keeps him on the hunt for more accomplishment and money-making opportunities. His restlessness can sometimes be so extreme and all-consuming that he often wonders if he is perhaps afflicted by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

People rarely ever realise that their ambitions are unconsciously fueled by the need for parental acceptance. Many young adults will argue that their dreams are their own, but these are subliminally programmed and driven by their parents' idiosyncrasies and desires. Even though such youngsters may rebel and contradict their parents' will or secretly hate their dominant or overbearing parent, deep within, they strive either directly or indirectly to excel in ways that will win them their parents’ approval and hopefully make the parents proud.

I think it's appalling that young children should have to carry this burden of parent-pleasing upon their psyches when they should be unhinged and free to explore from the multiplicity of possibilities that life presents. Why can't children just be curious, playful, and creative, without having to look over their shoulders and worry about making dad and mum happy? This dogmatic ideal of papa kehte hain bada naam karega (Every father believes that the son shall make him proud) makes youngsters disown their potentials and dreams even before they've had a chance to discover them. How can they then hope to know thyselves or fulfill their truest ambitions?

When forced implants of what parents believe to be right or wrong, good or bad, are installed in a child's psyche, his creativity is lost. The child blindly embraces these implants or what I like to call mental filters, that shape his beliefs and colour his perceptions. Suhel found his father's attitude to life and living distasteful on several counts and yet, he was always hungry for his praise. When this was not forthcoming, and it never was, he'd feel guilty and worthless. This would make him restless, pushing him even harder to earn more, hoping that more money would get him his father's love and affection. The harder he worked, the more resentful and hurt he was by Ranjan's aloof and critical behaviour. Besides, the incremental earnings rarely ever made him feel better for more than just a few hours, for he would simply slip back into feeling what he always did, inadequate and incomplete.

He hated his father, but he wanted to be loved by him. This is the tragedy of parental wounding. No matter how much money Suhel earns, in his father's eyes it shall never be enough because the filter of lack, and poverty is so deeply embedded in Ranjan's past experiences. Even if there is enough today, he doesn't hesitate to rudely point out to Suhel that it may not be enough for tomorrow. The only way for Suhel to overcome the feelings of guilt, unworthiness and not being good enough, is to recognise that the lack is not in him, but appears so, because of the distortion of truth by the mental filter implant. It's the father's beliefs and behaviour that are shattering his self-confidence and peace. When he can truly grasp this understanding, then only can he begin to dissolve the feelings of inadequacy and discontentment with life. Instead of blindly chasing more money, he may then start honouring the unique skills and talents he is gifted with, examine what pursuits make him really happy and how he can add value to the lives of others through his work, contributions and service. This is the true essence of authentic success. Until he reaches this clarity, he is sentenced to labour after goals that aren't really his, but those of his parents.

Unconscious parenting can damage children in many ways but one of the worst is to have the child spend his entire life climbing a certain mountain, only to reach the summit in his sunset years and realise that he was climbing the wrong mountain all along. What a waste of a precious lifetime that is. Perhaps parents need to be aware of their own woundedness first, before they can strive to give their children an unburdened life, and the free will to choose careers and goals that actually inspire them, rather than force aspirations that only aim to make parents happy but keep the children feeling empty and miserable inside.

Every child craves the “5A” gift from their parents, teachers and primary caregivers and these should be offered unconditionally and lovingly.

  1. Attention - upon receiving the parents undivided attention, a child comes to believe that his life matters, and that there is indeed a special place for him in this world.
  2. Affection - It is through affection the child learns to value and honour himself.
  3. Appreciation - Words of encouragement and appreciation instill in the child an intrinsic faith in its abilities.
  4. Acknowledgement - Genuine praise and positive acknowledgement of the child, teaches him to believe that he is intrinsically a good human. This builds trust and confidence in his ideas and abilities and gives conviction to his actions.
  5. Approval - Whether it is an encouraging gesture or a vivid verbalisation, approving behaviours from the parents’ signal to the child that he is well supported and safe through all of life's adventures, bestowing him with courage and self-drive.

When a child's soul is nourished liberally with the manure of these 5 aspects, children grow into self-reliant individuals with high-risk appetites who can chase their dreams bravely and bring path breaking and meaningful innovations to the world. Whether it's your child, or your inner child you wish to nurture, the journey must start with understanding your own woundedness and mental filters that are determining your worldview so that you can lovingly offer the gift of 5A and become the wind beneath your child's wings. 

About the Author

Author of the International bestseller, 7 Karma Codes, and Creator of the world's first Karma Wisdom Oracle in Italian, Suzy Singh is a Mental Health Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Karma teacher, International Wellness Speaker and Advisor to the Board at NGO We-Listen. As a therapist and coach Suzy has helped thousands across the globe. She writes extensively for several Wellbeing publications & has been an active jury member on the Business World 40 under 40 Wellbeing and Healthcare Awards 2021 & 2022. She is the founder of Grief Circle, a humanitarian service that offers support and healing to grief-stricken individuals and a youtube mentor to the youth. She can be reached on suzyhealsme@gmail.com