When trying to deal with our current troubles and anxieties, it can be deeply irritating to be asked to consider our childhoods. They happened so long ago; we can probably barely remember, let alone relate to, the little person we once were. But one of the most powerful explanations for why we may, as adults, be struggling, is that we were denied the opportunity to fully be ourselves in our earliest years. Perhaps we were over-disciplined and cowed, not allowed to be wilful or difficult – and so learnt to tell white lies and people-please. Or perhaps our caregivers were preoccupied or fragile and so we had to assume the role of parent, burying our true needs and desires deep underground.
When we thoroughly examine our upbringings, the larger implications for our adult selves are clear to see. Once we understand the roots from which our flaws stem, we can set about correcting the harmful behaviours we mistakenly believe to be innate. This book is a guide to better understanding our younger selves in order to shape who we wish to be in the future. It explores to what extent we can pin our actions in the present to our experiences in the past, and how we might then break free from the learnt patterns of our childhoods.