Dr. Paul Tournier was a loving and wise Swiss psychotherapist and writer of many bestselling books and articles. He was master of providing hope to patients in healing the self amidst a broken world. He taught much about “parental imprints” and how to become your own person.
No one has ever had perfect parents. I am no exception. One day I came home as a teenager with medals to show to my Dad but he just ignored me. Since then, I had to discover and continue the process of examining my father’s invalidation and hurt. I’d experienced the pain repeatedly over the years, which led me to commit unnecessary mistakes in my life. As I progressively realized it, I began healing the wound caused by “parental imprints.”
“Leaving home psychologically” is one way I’d like to describe my process of examining and healing my original wound. It’s a painful process when I went through it myself so I can get to the “other side.” I even went through a stage where I became arrogant, defiant, and violent. But the interesting thing is, as I learn to put on my own imprint instead of just automatically being what my father has imprinted in me, I’d diagnose and treat, yet still tend to put the old imprint back on. It’s not giving up without a fight!
Dr. Tournier speaks of taking off parental injunctions from your system much as you take off a clothing. You begin doing this, usually during teenage years, when you start to question your parents in many areas. Still, the questioning needs to be properly guided in the right paths – reevaluating “parental imprints” in the light of wholeness, health, and current level of maturity. Every one is free to discard all of those unhealthy or life-damaging “parental imprints” but one is also free to put any of them back into your own present clothing.
Try your own imprint on for size. Keep reminding your self that you are free to make your own choices, even when some of those choices feel uncomfortable. Seek help, if necessary, to heal your ancient wounds still influencing your present. Know the process of leaving home psychologically and do it. That’s how all of us are called to do developmentally so we can make the passage from child state to adulthood.