Whether it is immediately apparent or not, our families shape how we form our expectations of love, relationship models, love languages, and attachment styles outside of the home.
Jealousy-borne strife in your marriage can be the result of some unhealthy competition of attention in your childhood home. The way your parents treat each other in front of you can define the way you behave toward future partners or friends.
My Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) result is ‘mediator’. When I first took the test, I scoffed at the way a standardized test confirmed something I had known all my life: that I was raised to deal with other people’s problems.
Cynical as it may sound, I knew there was truth to the test result.
My mother is a people-person working in Human Resources who, through no ill-intent of her own, tends to adopt socially opportunistic behaviour. Whenever I went to her for advice on petty primary school drama, she would explain the nuance of human behaviour and offer problem-solving ideas. I learned how to suppress strong emotions, talk calmly, choose words carefully and analyse one’s face and body language.
Soon enough, I became known as the ‘armchair psychologist’ friend who seemed to have the solutions to any interpersonal conflict. My own quarrels were not exempt from the rule. Keeping up the impervious facade was tiring, but it beat the alternative: being vulnerable enough to make ‘real’ friendships and risking rejection.
Over a decade later and I still catch myself shying away from showing my true personality, thoughts and feelings to new friends and partners. The habit of putting on a more amenable exterior can be tempting, especially for the average risk-avoidant introvert with trust issues.
I try to unlearn ingrained patterns by remembering that acceptance is a two-way street and one can only gain as much as they put into a relationship.
For more targeted practices, self-help resources, and peer support, check out SG Support Group on Discord.