Hi Open,

Wow, you must have been sensing what is happening for me through the ether ☺! This couldn’t have come at a better time time. Despite moving out of my parents house 20 years ago, I am still having a hard time trying to rid myself of the daughter label and all the conditioning that came with that label growing up. My parents definitely fit the category of those emotionally carrying the burden of their children’s path (my dad will even admit that he sometimes wishes that he could ‘fiddle with our knobs’ and tune us to his preferred channels…). Over the years I think we have come along way together and they have definitely loosened their grip, but for them I will always carry the daughter label with the associated conditioning/expectations, which for me is where the challenge lies. Even when I have detached myself from this label quite a bit, they keep on projecting it onto me and I am often finding it hard to know how to respond in way as to shake off the label. Part of the conditioning is that they always know best/better, so as soon as I try to challenge something, they are unlikely to consider my point of view, but would rather want to convince me why their point of view is right (e.g. ending nowhere unless I agree with them).

In the past, living abroad was my way of creating a physical distance away from the daughter label, but this strategy doesn’t actually dissolve it, so it is always waiting for me upon return to my country of birth, where I am living at the moment. I can feel the strong temptation to run away from it and move abroad again, but at the same time there is some determination to breakthrough the label once and for all…. In the interaction with my parents I have become aware of a lot of the patterns at play when they happen (almost like an observer), but I often still find myself getting stuck in conditioned responses, because I haven’t yet found a different way to respond (and perhaps there is a certain degree of avoiding conflict involved in my responses). It sometimes feels like being a character in a strange movie, where I don’t agree with the script, but end up playing along anyhow, because there is no alternative script available. At the same time, I am very aware that there is still a part of me that has an expectation/attachment to the need for my parents to change somehow (which rationally I know they probably won’t, but emotionally still wish for) and is not willing to accept them the way they are and the daughter label that they have created for me.

In a similar way, I struggle with the label of my nationality/culture, which I don’t associate with in many ways, but particularly when I am my country of birth, I feel the weight of conditioning weighing on me heavily and the attempts from people around me to get me ‘back in line’ if I don’t conform (for example, I am still resisting to conform to the Dutch ‘agenda’ in which you have to schedule your whole life at least 3 months in advance!). At the same time, it can sometimes feel very lonely ‘out of line’, when you are the maverick swimming against the tide.

I am surely creating this in my life for a reason (and probably the whole label is just another veil of illusion), and I have a feeling that there are going to be different layers to break through, but I would appreciate any experiences others have in dealing with the son/daughter labels that their parents defined for them growing up, and particularly any useful strategies on how to effectively change the script!

With gratitude!