Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.
Whose love did you crave most?
We all come into this world like a sponge. Everything is completely new to us, so we suck up all of the information that we can, and as we grow up, these early experiences help to shape our worldview. That is the information we carry forth into the world as an adult.
Along the way, in addition to learning about the world around us, we also develop our identity – which is directly derived from our parents. (Or sometimes a grandparent, or whomever it was that raised us or was very close to us.) We spend so much time with our parents that we begin to take on traits similar to theirs, and end up craving affection from them long after we’ve grown up.
Subconsciously, we seek to identify with the primary caretaker whose love we craved most. Even if they have passed away, we shape ourselves into what we think we need to be in order to gain their love, their acceptance and their approval. This craving for love heavily influences identity, even as an adult, and understanding this can help you better understand your personality and how you respond to interpersonal situations.
Think of the person whose love you craved most as a child: What did you have to be for that person to accept and love you? What did you have to think or do to gain their approval? Sometimes, the answer is simple and straightforward. Other times, it’s more complicated.
Tony gives a great example of this:
“I am one of those people that has to always give, I was raised to give — you don’t take. When I was poor and had no money, I would take other people to lunch at Denny’s. I would pay for their order and then I had no money for myself, so I would have an iced tea and I’d tell people I had already eaten — because I had to give. It was a demand. It wasn’t a desire. It was something I had to do.”
How many times have you heard someone say, “I wasn’t (or was) raised like that”? And why does that matter to us, even after we’re adults living independently from our parents? It matters because you have sourced your identity from your childhood, and from the person who raised you, so those are the beliefs you will always align yourself with.
By examining your childhood and understanding whose love you craved most, you can get a clearer explanation of why you see yourself the way you do. You can also examine your relationships and access a better understanding of how they’ve succeeded or failed in the past. Are you constantly trying to prove to your partner that you’re worthy, because your parent made you feel that you needed to do so for their love? Do you seek someone who finds joy in all the little moments in life, because that’s what your caretaker taught you to do? Craving affection is not a bad thing, but by understanding why you make the emotional decisions you do, based on your upbringing, you can acknowledge what it is that makes you tick and work to change the behaviors you’re unhappy with.
“Identity is this incredible invisible force that controls your whole life. It’s invisible, like gravity is invisible, but it controls your whole life.” – Tony Robbins
Header image © anawat sudchanham/shutterstock