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I feel suffocated by my parents who will not support the plans I have for my life - how can I correct this?


heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I am a third year business administration student, of Chinese descent, a new age believer, who was raised by super conservative parents, and who feels suffocated by family.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
I hope to be independent, to make something of myself in another country.
Question
I am sending you this message hoping to be enlightened about my current situation. I attend a substandard university I absolutely hate because it was my father's wish and knowing how he is when he's angry, I couldn't and still can't disobey. I cannot wait to graduate! My years in that university have been the worst in my life, not at all what I envisioned in high school, which brings me to the question - What happened to the law of the universe?

All my life, I imagined making it big in college, landing on the dean's list, impressing people, taking on challenges. Everything happening right now runs counter to that. I presently have my eyes on a university in China. It's expensive, so I'll be working on an application for a scholarship. My parents could very well afford to pay for my education abroad but I hate hearing my dad keep saying how I'm so useless and how much I owe him. To him, I am never good enough. So I'll make sure I get that scholarship. But I have fears. They often make me question what I am really up to. Am I selfish? What is it that I need to change in my life?

I have arthritis. I read somewhere that arthritis is caused by endless complaining, which makes sense. Can I still reverse my disease? I have managed the pain but I still cannot move as freely as before the onset of the illness. What should I do? I reside in the Philippines, where spiritual resources are not as readily available as they are in the States.

Also, my family keeps pestering me about going to church. I have read Neale Donald Walsh's and other spiritual teachers' books and have decided that the Catholic Church is not for me. It is too dogmatic, too ritualistic. I feel that my family has always been discontented with me because of my tendency to follow what I believe in. I explained to them that my decision to NOT go to church is my choice. Neither side is right or wrong. It's only a matter of belief and the willingness to stand up for that belief. How do I correct these things?

Wallace's reply
Wallace
This young woman needs our support and encouragement. Here is my perspective...

Do not hate your current university. It may not be what you wished for but see everything in life as a gift, to be appreciated - even things that appear to be bad! Then you will have fewer problems, because you will be seeing the good in everything. When we are able to see the good in everything, we perceive the unity of life - how everything works together for our spiritual welfare. Often the thing that appears the hardest and most troublesome is the very thing that helps us to mature and grow into a loving caring person. So do not hate anything - love and enjoy your life.

Problems with parents and family problems are the most common questions that I am asked - so you are not alone. When children become young adults there needs to be changes in the kind of relationship that exists between offspring and parents. Many families find this transition difficult and stressful.

I want you to remember when talking with your parents and discussing difficult issues, the many sacrifices your parents made to raise you to adulthood. It is easy to see those things that you feel your parents are not giving at present and that you would like them to give and forget about all those times, especially when you were very young, when your parents tended to your every need, sometimes in the middle of the night when they were exhausted, with love and devotion.

Having said that, I understand why you now feel suffocated in your relationship with your parents and want to get away from home to spread your wings. This is a legitimate aspiration for a young woman who is seeking to find her own identity. Sometimes parents unwittingly drive their young adults away by refusing to give them the scope and freedom to develop in their own way. Parents can feel that their young adults should be copies of themselves rather than individuals in their own right with their own beliefs, skills and attributes. When this happens problems often develop in the relationship between young adults and parents.

So I would encourage you to continue to seek to develop your own path in life - this is essential for your current and future wellbeing - but while doing so to treat your parents with compassion, remembering all the sacrifices they have made to raise you into adulthood. You need to develop the joint skills of firmness and compassion. You need firmness about your intended path in life combined with compassion for your parents' wellbeing and understandable concerns.

Pursuing your heart's desire is not selfish but is rather a sign of mental and spiritual health. There is nothing as powerful as a person who sets out to pursue the path in life that is right for them. Doing this however can be misinterpreted by others, including parents. My advice to you when you meet opposition to your intended path, is to not give that opposition energy by opposing it in argument. If you are sure your intended path is the right one for you, stick to your path with calm deliberation and dedicated action. If others wish to support you in your decision, good; if not, find ways to be self reliant and still pursue your intended direction. If loved ones do not support you, replace feeling hurt and victimized with feelings of power and creativity. Use these feelings of power and creativity to ask God within to show you ways to pursue your intended path. Remember God supports right action that is in accordance with your heart's desire - you will not be alone on your journey!

Initially your parents may continue to be unhappy with your choices - you have no control over their reactions and responses - but in time, parents often come to appreciate and have respect for offspring who have led the life their heart desires, leading to a much more harmonious relationship with their offspring in later years.

I cannot answer your questions about arthritis.

Further Help and Resources
Peter Shepherd's book, Daring to be Yourself, is based on principles that have helped thousands of people. It has an excellent section on communication and relationships, which will help you in your relationship with your parents; a section on positive living, called a Positive Approach, which will help you disentangle yourself from the suffocation you feel around your parents; and a section on achieving goals, which will help you to focus on the personal vision you have for your life and empower you to be able to attract the help and resources you need to realize that vision. I recommend it highly.

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