torstai 28. helmikuuta 2013

Days 159-160: Infant development & uncertainty over lost memories



I have begun to prepare myself for my entrance exams before the actual material is published by studying developmental psychology, among other subjects. For the past few days I've been reading about the development of an infant at it's prenatal stage and during the first 15 months after birth. I have found interesting new perspectives into my self-reflection as I have realized how far in my past – how early in my childhood – who I am now has been established.

In the book I'm reading there was an explanation about “interaction patterns” (I'm loosely translating from finnish) which an infant builds according to his relationship towards his primary caregiver – the one the child imprints on. (Funny thing is, the book mentions “imprinting” as something animals do, but that the same pattern with humans is referred to as “ developing attachment” - why call it something different when in essence it's exactly the same, if not a bit more complex?) These interaction patterns are divided into three main groups based on how the caregiver responds to the child and what the consequences of this interaction have been shown to be.

The first group were the children who developed a sense of safety and certainty as the caregiver was able to respond fast and correctly to the needs the child expressed. The child here learns that he does not have to worry about his basic needs being fulfilled and thus has the fundamentals of life in such order that he can explore the world bravely.

Then there are two groups of children who did not develop a sense of safety: avoiding and conflicting. The avoiding child has learned that when/as he expresses a negative feeling (of hunger, cold, fear, etc.) the caregiver will respond in a negative way. So the child learns to avoid expressing his true emotions and will instead seek to express himself in such a way that will draw a positive response from his surroundings. The conflicting child has received conflicting responses to his self-expression from the caregiver – sometimes positive, sometimes negative – and the inconsistency leads to the child expressing himself as powerfully and assertively as possible to make sure he gets attention and is heard.

I recognized myself from the model of the avoiding child. I do not know how I was treated as an infant – all I know is that my memories of my early childhood are nothing but positive, even though I know there has been some rough patches – so I am not pointing a finger at my family or anyone else. I am simply realizing that my introvertedness, passiveness and social anxiety may have been installed into my mind when I have been a wee baby with very limited self-direction, and thus isn't something I could have really influenced on my part. Of course some of the patterns that remain within me today may have been such that were instilled in me when I socialized with other children, as many fears I did create in school, but there have been some things I have been unable to explain with happenings in school because they seem to have begun earlier than I can remember.

One such pattern is that since as early as I can remember I have avoided sharing my negative experiences with my parents. I never told them I was bullied – I never told them I was depressed – I did not express my envy towards my siblings – I never shared my anxieties and fears. I also never told any teacher, any of my siblings and rarely any friends, because eventually my friends became the bullies. I was thinking about this today and realized that a parent should be a stability point to a child - “the one to go to” during the child's process of growing up – and I remember as a child seeing my friends do this with their parents and wondering how they were able to do so. I could not conceive how a mother could be one's “best friend”.

This is one such pattern that has begun in my early childhood for reasons I do not remember (yet). Up until now I have been trying to pinpoint memories, relationships, people, moments, events – concrete things that I can handle – so that I could “get” my issues in order to transcend them. What I'm faced with here is that such concrete points may simply not be found, as the whole issue of how I became who I am now is so complex it is not possible to point at a single thing and say: “This is the cause! Found it!” Despite the fact that I am unable to see the reasons in their full detail, what is here is still inescapably HERE, and I am going to have to move and change that which is HERE, because I see and realize who/how I am now and that it is simply unacceptable. So I am now faced with the fact that what matters in the end is what I actually do in practice, because the past is extensive and one can waste a lifetime rummaging around the corners of one's mind without ever actually physically moving oneself to do something about it.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to search for memories, relationships, people, moments and events in my past that would provide a comprehendible reason for who I have become as I have wanted to have the security of knowing why I am like this as I could not simply face myself for who I am and carry my responsibility to direct myself without a solid reason.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to require an explanation before moving myself, the need to move not enough of a motivator.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear moving without knowing how I have become who I am now as I have feared I will somehow “mess myself up” if I act without full understanding of every detail of the situation.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not trust myself to be able to handle whatever comes my way as I move, and to justify not moving based on this distrust in self (“but I will break something”).

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to analyze my mind for the sake of analyzing with no commitment to actual practical change.

I commit myself to bring the analysis I do as I walk my process into practical living here in the physical as commitments that will assist and support me to actually change in motion.

I commit myself to embrace uncertainty.

I commit myself to realize the extensiveness of the shitload I carry at my back as past experiences, patterns, habits, agreements, arrangements, characters, personalities, beliefs and imagination – and that to comprehend all of it is not something to be done in a matter of months but a matter of years, decades and a lifetime of learning.

I commit myself to face one point at a time in calmness and stability within the realization that “the big picture” will build up as all these points accumulate.

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